Seven Deadly Sins of Freelance Writing
Freelancing isn’t a cakewalk and all the elements of this career path point to this. It has responsibilities equivalent to entrepreneurship. With the rise in the number of remote working gigs, this sector saw a surge in freelance writing jobs. But ever wondered why only a handful of new freelance writers land high paying clients?
As lucrative as it seems, freelancing comes with the immense freedom and making mistakes becomes easier in such a setting. Clients may pull the plug or projects may get cancelled. Even a single blunder can damage your reputation or potentially harm your business.
It may seem like you have it all under control, but that six-digit income may still be a far-fetched dream. Worry not! Slip-ups are inevitable during entry days. With every passing day, you become a better freelance writer or copywriter alongside learn to handle clients and collaborate with other freelancers. Here are seven deadly freelance writing pitfalls to avoid.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Freelance Writing
1. You aren’t too good with deadlines
What’s your final goal as a freelance writer? To land up good high paying projects and earn as many referrals as possible. Right? It is possible only when you build trust and a reputation for timely project deliverance.
The crux of your relationship with your client is dependent upon trust. This trust is earned with quality work, delivered on time. If you cannot deliver on time, it poorly reflects on your professionalism, work ethic, managerial abilities and competency. However, it is not a big deal if you are only slightly over the deadline. But, if this becomes a habit, it will impact your freelance writing business in the long run.
Even if you are charging per word or per project, make it a practice to strict to the promised deadlines.
More times than not, you may encounter clients with lofty expectations and artificial deadlines. In such situations, it is your responsibility to manage, adjust and define targets. Another idea is to work with a contingency plan in place. Be prepared for uncertainties the future may hold and schedule a target date accordingly.
2. You aren’t making much noise
The golden rule of successful freelancing is Marketing, Marketing and some more Marketing.
Picture a scenario where someone is working in isolation. Now imagine that they don’t have a strong social media standing, an online reputation or a referral network. Do you think a word about this writer will travel to hiring agencies, freelancing communities or prospective clients? Definitely not. Therefore, it is needed that you make some noise in the market to make your presence felt. It is a waste of effort to expect someone to magically appear before you with a gig.
To show your presence, focus on marketing your freelancing services.
Author bios, work samples, endorsements and referrals are all just perfect for this.
Choose the write platforms like Upwork, and Fiverr to your advantage.
Writers nowadays are extensively using social media, online writing forums and groups like:
Also, don’t forget to become a member of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook groups like:
- Creative Freelancers Unite
- Female Freelance Writers
- The Cult of Copy
- The Solopreneur Society
- The Copywriter Club
Drop links to your writing portfolios or blogging website.
You can also brand your services. Go knee-deep into how to brand your business and gain maximum exposure.
3. Taking criticism to heart
All domains are prone to criticism. Those who take it in their stride, improve and make prolific progress. The incapacity to deal with a complaint is a major entrepreneurial mistake and a severe freelancing mistake to avoid.
Since art (like writing) is highly subjective, you may be subject to criticism. Sometimes your clients may not approve of your website copywriting, other times they may dislike an entire blog. How do you deal with it as a freelance writer?
Firstly develop thick skin. After this, understand that you are in a position to produce work as per client requirements and instructions. Sometimes you can try to put forward a better proposal and find a way to improve the result. Other times, it is wise to adjust to their requirements simply. Thirdly, take criticism as an opportunity to refine yourself.
As a freelancer, you may come across all kinds of clients; some with more professionalism and humanity than others. Similarly, their feedback and criticism will vary and may not even be useful. In such scenarios, you learn to filter and gather what’s necessary.
Regular meditation and doing some kind of workout is a preferred practice by freelancers worldwide. It helps to improve productivity and become more tolerant. Use apps like Headspace and Calm for your daily dose of musing and contemplation.
4. Behaving in an unprofessional manner
Apart from a casual dress code, there are many perks to being a freelance writer—the absence of a manager and strictly no obligation to adhere to corporate rules. In such a scenario, you are likely to behave in an unprofessionally with your clients.
Being too cold or too friendly can be a fatal mistake. Act as per your role and develop a relationship with boundaries. Oversharing is a big mistake. Your client is certainly uninterested in knowing what you did over the weekend or your review of the new series you started watching.
It goes for all freelancers without saying- act as per your position to seem worthy of the fee you charge.
5. Inability to follow instructions and guidelines
Out of a sea with million fishes (nearly 2 million in the UK freelance market), a client took the pain to find, filter and approach you for your services. In this case, your inability to understand and follow instructions will be a bummer. It will show that you are lazy, incompetent and ignorant.
When given a deadline, editorial instructions, or outline, your client expects you to follow them diligently. Sometimes it may be regarding the language or tone. Other times client may want something totally niche stricken. Since your clientele demands professional quality work from an expert like you, you must deliver. For this:
- Read the instruction guidelines carefully and promptly ask for clarifications on any front (if needed).
- Have total clarity of the project before beginning.
- Make visible sticky notes as reminders.
The immense leverage you have while freelance writing is working on projects, having a learning opportunity, and gaining a personal reputation in the market. In this state, timely deliverance, the prowess to follow instruction and adapt is the biggest selling point.
6. Failure to give a Creative Output
You want fun and creative projects while your clients wish for someone to realise their vision in the artsiest way. That’s a combination better than peanut butter and jelly. This collaboration has the potential to cross benchmarks and produce something unique. What’s stopping you? Get your creative juices flowing, bring freshness to an idea and suggest ways to accentuate a project at hand.
A habit of all successful freelancers is to go the extra mile to make their client’s life better. Therefore, don’t shy away from proposing an idea or an alternate approach.
In a competitive market, you have to be more than an ordinary Tom, Dick and Harry. Do all that you are expected to and then look beyond core services. This will show extra efforts on your part.
7. Leaving no room to learn from mistakes and upskill
You may be the best writer or produce the wittiest website copies. But tomorrow someone better will appear on the scene and snatch your clients. Ouch! That’s every freelancer’s nightmare.
Shake yourself back to reality and continuously up your game by finding ways to upskill and learn something new.
Perfect yourself in one niche and then expand your horizons bit-by-bit. Interact with other writers, learn from them and try writing something totally out of your comfort zone.
Additionally, regularly monitor your progress and learn from any mistakes you make on the way. Like any other job/profession, this is where being better than others matters. Except, there’s no job security!
Okay, there is no guarantee of a regular six-figure income as a freelancer, but rest assured that if there is anything that can get you there, it is this set of basics; and as a freelancer, if there is anything you know how to do, it is how to protect your base income.