Large numbers of freelance writes tend to keep making the same mistakes over and over again, and it really holds them back from becoming financially sound and stable. Below are some freelance writing mistakes that people commonly commit. Some of the most common mistakes actually have nothing to do with writing but with self promotion and handling a steady work flow. Avoid these mistakes below and you will see your freelance career accelerate and your income will increase instantly.
Keeping a Schedule and Sticking to it
Any freelance writer knows that it is not the writing you’re selling, it’s your time. For most of us, writing comes naturally and easily but it may not be so simple when planning a time to write. Working as a freelance writer from home I know that it can be hard to stay on a schedule everyday, and most freelance writers seem to have the same problem. One of the main reasons most freelancers end up wasting a lot of time is because they do not devote specific hours to work only.
If you are like me you are doing laundry, cooking, and writing all at the same time. One way to save some time is to hand off undesirable routine tasks like laundry, cutting the grass, and cleaning to someone who makes less money than you do. You can also save yourself some time by hiring an assistant to make photocopies, send out the mail, go to the bank, etc. The main thing to remember when working as a freelance writer is that you have to free up your time so that you can concentrate on your writing and start making more money.
Self Promotion is one of the most important tools that a freelance writer has, and if you don’t use it you will never succeed. Most freelance writers stop promoting and marketing their skills once they get busy and this is where most of us fail. The result is gaps between work and no new leads. The key to maintaining a steady freelance writing career is to continually self promote – even when you are really busy. Many freelance writers’ lives are defined by a criss-cross motion of writing and self promotion when it should really be a continual flow. The two should be intertwined with each other creating a steady flow of work and income stream.
Not Charging Enough
Most freelance writers have the “starving artist” mentality that holds them back from really making any substantial income. Just because you are a freelance writer does not mean that your work is not as good Joe Reporter at the New York Times. In fact a lot of freelance writing is exceptionally good and not commonly found. Most freelance writers are afraid that if they charge too much the client will find someone else for less. Gaining business by charging too low is only going to lead to failure in the long run. If you start out low and then try to charge more later you may loose many or all of your clients.
Often, you will be surprised what your clients will tolerate concerning pay. Sometimes you have to push the limits to get what you want but if your work is quality most people will not mind paying a little more.
Finding a Niche
The best way to corner the ever growing market of freelance writing is to become a specialist. You can streamline your writing by subject or medium, but it is not going to sell if you do not have marketable talent. Think about what kind of writing the most people will be looking for, and also what you know. Make sure that you have reliable sources of information and that your work fits into a market niche that has not been captured yet.
It is also best to choose one or two mediums and stick to them. Since the world of freelance writing has so many different mediums it is almost impossible to succeed unless you choose a medium. If you are an online content writer don’t write magazine articles. If you are a commercial writer, stay with either television or radio. Whatever medium you feel the most comfortable using, and have the most knowledge on is the one that you should stick to. Too often, writers make the mistake of taking an assignment that they really don’t know much about, or how to format it.
If you are serious about being a freelance writer, and charging for your services, you better make sure that your work is worth the extra buck. Clients will pay more for works that are not commonly found, especially with online writing services. Before you take an assignment make sure that you are fully prepared to fulfill your client’s needs and wants. Other than just finding a niche you also have to be fresh and new. Clients are not looking for a repeat of a repeat and will pay more for exclusive works.
Not Being Clear About Guidelines
One of the biggest mistakes that most freelance writers make is to take assignments they are not clear on. You should never start researching or writing until you are crystal clear on what the terms are. How long is it supposed to be? When is it due? Will there be any re-writes? What format? When will you get paid? Are there any fees? Etc., etc. Make sure that you go over any areas of the contract or agreement that you don’t understand before you say yes. When it comes to freelance writing there is no manager or boss telling you what to do. It is your responsibility to make sure you know what you are doing before you start.
Not Focusing on the Client
Most writers naturally focus on the writing task at hand but you can be more successful if you really focus on the client. Each new client is a new relationship and you must focus on what it’s going to take to make it work. Listen to what your client says they want and understand what they need. Needs and wants are not the same thing, so be careful when researching and writing your assignments. Make sure that all of the needs are covered fully and that most of the wants are included. Usually most clients are quite flexible when it comes to wants and will not be upset if they are not all met, but all of the needs must be met in order to produce what they really want.
Potential of Profitability
We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” and the same goes for freelance writing projects. Don’t simply judge a writing opportunity by how much money you are going to make. Each writing bid should be closely examined to determine whether or not you will have an ongoing relationship with this client. The idea is to keep making money over and over again with one or two clients. If there is no potential to make money in the future, either residuals or a continual flow of work, than don’t take the bid. It is more important to build lasting relationships with your clients than it is to make a few bucks right now.
Most clients prefer not to deal with people that have too many questions or stipulations that get in the way of what is really important, and that is you writing for them. As a freelance writer you have to be agreeable, flexible, and helpful. If you can accommodate the client’s needs and wants easily then they will come back to you again and again. If you are difficult, argumentative, slow, and stubborn your clients and potential clients will look elsewhere for a writer. Of course, you must hold your ground on pay and other things like due dates and length, but don’t let the client walk all over you or take advantage of your helpfulness.
Saying Yes Instead of NO
As freelance writers we tend to get a lot of requests for work and even though you may want to take on each and every project, it is just not a reality. Unfortunately writers who take on too many assignments usually end up failing in the long run. If you accept everything that comes your way you will see your work start to back up and then you will loose customers because you couldn’t meet deadlines and the work is just not detailed enough.
If the writing opportunity does not increase your income or help accelerate your writing career than don’t take it. If you are extremely busy, see if you can get extended deadlines or just say no. Of course, it’s easier said than done but will pay off in the long run if you don’t overload yourself with work. Another plus to this is that you don’t get as many writer’s blocks and you don’t get burned out quite as easily.