New freelance writers are making big mistakes and then wondering why they don’t have any clients, or the clients they do have, pay them pennies.
Many don’t realize what they’re doing is holding them back from making more money and from growing their writing business.
I know, because every one of the mistakes in this post I did when I first started.
Being a Freshman Freelance Writer
I just completed my freshman year as a freelance writer and I learned a lot. Starting off on your own is difficult. Especially, if this isn’t your full-time thing.
I’m a work-at-home-mom with twin toddlers — boy and a girl — and I had to learn the freelance writing ways while having to juggle taking care of my children and running a household.
I didn’t know anything about WordPress, blogging and had no idea what Google Docs was. It’s an understatement when I say I was a total nube starting out.
But, even though I made mistakes along the way, I was able to build my freelance writing business from starting at $1.62 a post
to now making, on average, hundreds of dollars a post. But, this didn’t come easy. I had to hustle, pitch, produce epic content and try hard to be available for my clients.
My story isn’t unusual; you can achieve this even if you make these four monumental mistakes.
1. Taking Any Work That Comes Your Way
It’s hard starting out. You have expenses to pay — like food and rent — and you’re scared you won’t be able to pay them. And it’s terrifying when you have children to support.
But, this doesn’t mean you should take or pitch to any work that comes your way. Look at me.
I started on iWriter — a legit content mill — and I absolutely hated it.
I almost quit right then and there. I spent hours writing some stupid post (my first post ever) and all I got was enough money to buy a cup a coffee.
And all that time and energy I spent on iWriter, I never had the time to seek better jobs.
It’s okay to take a few jobs at a lower rate when you’re first starting out. That’s what I did; I moved out of the content mills and started finding work on job boards. My rate at that time was $.04/word.
But, the point is, only take a few jobs at the low end of your rate. Have a plan to move up the pay scale and find better clients.
2. Not Asking Questions
You’ve landed your first client. Way to go! But, then you start thinking, your client can see right through you. You’re worried they realize they’ve made a huge mistake in hiring you.
So, to cover it up, you don’t ask any questions about the assignment. You think, if you ask questions, it will definitely confirm you’re new to this and, well you don’t want your client knowing you’re new.
You’re supposed to just know everything because real freelance writers know this stuff! Well, the truth is, you’re supposed to ask questions to your clients.
I mean, what if you hired a web designer to design your site and they never asked you questions about what you want your site to look like. Instead, they just did what they thought you would like.
See, professionals ask questions. They have to if they want to produce the best service or product. When you don’t ask any questions, you run the risk of submitting sub par work, or worse, not what the client wanted at all.
And that sucks because that can ruin your reputation as a professional writer.
Here are some questions I’ve asked my clients:
- Do you want this post uploaded or formatted in the WP HTML format or is the MS doc fine?
- Do you want this post closer to 300 or 700 as this makes a big difference in the detail I go into for each point.
- I can pitch some ideas or if you have some topics you think will do well, I would love to hear them!
So, don’t worry that if you ask a question to a client, they automatically think you’re not a freelance writer. Instead, it shows you know your craft and you want more information to better represent your client’s brand and position.
3. You Don’t Know How to Market Yourself
I recently started coaching aspiring writers. One of the things I’m hearing from multiple writers is how to market yourself when there’s thousands of freelance writers out there.
Many haven’t a clue because their background is in journalism or they’re a mom (like me) with a non-writing background (like me). Marketing just doesn’t come naturally for many talented writers.
And that’s okay! You don’t have to be a big-shot marketer to be a successful freelance writer. You just need to know how to market yourself to get maximum exposure.
Here are some ways to market yourself as a freelance writer:
- Update your social profiles to say, “freelance writer for hire.”
- What if you don’t have any social media profiles? Then get some! I suggest opening a LinkedIn and Twitter profile to start. These two platforms have generated thousands of dollars for my freelance writing business.
- Include links to your writer website and services page in your author bio.
- Start guest posting like yesterday.
It just takes a little bit of getting out there to drum up some business.
4. Not Starting
So, remember how I just told you to go and “get out there?” Well, the biggest and most monumental mistake I see from new freelance writers is not starting.
They sit on the idea of wanting to start freelance writing for years, but they never find the right time to start. Life gets in the way and their fears can stop all ideas of quitting their day job to pursue freelancing.
All the other mistakes don’t matter if you never start. And don’t worry about making everything perfect.
When I started, my pitch sucked. My first website was way too wordy and didn’t sell my services. I undervalued myself on one gig because I couldn’t do the math. My project tracking sheet was terrible and I’m pretty sure I forgot to invoice a client or two. And there are plenty of more mistakes I did along the way.
But, you see, I recovered. I learned how to do things the right way. I found a way to go from $1.62 to $350 a post. And that’s great because I’m out there doing it. You shouldn’t be thinking about freelance writing; you should be doing it.
Wipe Off the Dust
We all make mistakes at one time or another. You could be five days in as a freelance writer or have five years under your belt.
No matter how new you are as a freelance writer, know that if you make a mistake, learn from it and move on!
Now it’s your turn — tell me if you made any of these monumental mistakes or if you know of another one, I’d like to hear!
Originally published at elnacain.com on October 25, 2015.