Are you struggling with your writing career? If you’ve been having issues with getting things really moving with your freelance writing career, you’re certainly not alone.
At one point, even seasoned writers have been where you are right now, so don’t feel bad about struggling.
Many who venture into the world of writing for a living start off doing things on their own. Though there is nothing wrong with going at things alone, it does mean that you will likely make some mistakes along the way.
Don’t get down.
We learn from mistakes and they help up grow as writers. However, sometimes there are mistakes you are making that you don’t even realize.
Here you will find 3 common mistakes in no real particular order that many freelance writers make when they first start out. And even if you’ve been doing thing for a while, you find yourself stuck in a similar rut.
You’re Afraid To Say No
Chances are you can relate to this scenario…
You get in contact with a perspective client (or they get in contact with you) and express a that you would like to write for them. You submit links or a resume to outline your previous work and skills and the client loves what you have to offer. (yay!) So now that you have their attention, they ask you what your rate or price is and you give them a quote for the work. Now, they volley back.
‘Oh… That’s more than I was expecting…’ Is a sort of a general response you would get and then then ask something like, ‘I really like your work and what you do, but I can only afford… (amount here)’
Often times, the amount they give in retort is half the amount stated you could do the work for or maybe even more. They want the same amount of your time and high quality hard work for less! This is frustrating, am I right? But what to you do?
More often than not, you reluctantly say, ‘OK… Sure, I’ll do it for that price’. You’ve done it, I’ve done it and most pros in the running will admit having done this.
Now sometimes, this is okay. If you’re lucky enough to land an e-book writing gig and say you can ghostwrite a 25 “page” book in one week for $800 and your client says they can only afford $400, you’re still going to be making decent money.
This is not the kind of thing that I mean.
Most freelance writers are stuck writing article submissions, guest posts or ghostwriting web content.
For example, say your client needs 1,500 word articles from you. On average, and depending on the nature of it, an article of the size takes about an hour of research, two hours to write, an hour to editing and proofread and then about an hour to add and edit the needed pictures. (That may be stretching it a bit, but you know I’m not far off.)
So that is around 5 hours of your time and energy devoted to this. You know how much most want to pay you for that? $2o is pretty average and sometimes, it’s even less than that! If you’re working for that amount for 5 hours, you are literally working for $4 dollars an hour.
And that doesn’t include taking out taxes, so technically, you’re making less than that!
$4 an hour… Are you really worth so little? You can make more money working at McDonalds!
Your skill and ability are worth so much more and yet you still say, ‘Sure, I’ll do it’.
This is a huge error and yet, so many have fallen to this area. Why? Mostly, it’s fear. The fear of saying no to someone who wants to give you money. But, you need to realize something:
This will kill you.
I cannot stress this enough. Willingly working so hard for so little in your freelance writing is like willing working in a digital sweatshop.
Well, here is a little word of advice on the subject.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
Tell your client that you really appreciate the opportunity, but you’ve got to put bread on the table too and the price that they want the work done for is just too low to consider.
Honestly, you’d be surprised how many of those people will change their offer to accommodate you (speaking from experience), and the ones who don’t, aren’t worth your time.
These people don’t see your value or your worth. If they don’t, then just say no.
The world isn’t going to end and you may have just lost a little bit of income, but when you work for so little, you pretty much tell others that you value yourself almost as little as they do or maybe even more.
It’s not worth it and if you keep it up, you’ll get stuck scraping by.
You Look For Work At The Bottom Of The Barrel
There are quite a bit of sites out there where you can go to try and find work as a freelance writer.
Unfortunately, most of these sites are just a waste of your time. It’s true that many find moderate success on sites like Odesk, Freelancer and Craigslist, however, most who attempt to start off in these markets truly do waste their time. (and money depending on what site you use…)
There are many reasons for why I say this, but one is that if you live in an area like America or another area with a high cost of living, you’re going to be bidding against people who live in an area who don’t need as much to get by and thus can deliver work for much cheaper. It’s hard to compete with that…
And don’t even get me started on Craigslist!
For all the time I ever spent sending resumes and work inquiries to ads on craigslist, I never got one paying client out of it. Ever.
These places are not where you want to go to make money as a freelance writer. I know of some who have found good work on these sites and therefore, I can’t shut them down completely. However, when you’re first starting out, or if you’re already struggling, these venues are not where you should be spending your time. Why?
Largely because many people looking for work on those sites won’t take you for your skills in writing. They just want the best and usually cheapest price for the work done. So where can you go to find work that will pay you well?
Well, your first stop can be here.
Freelance Freedom Fighter produces a weekly newsletter called The Coffee Classifieds where we list some sites we find and site owners we know that are looking for some top notch writers. If you want the newsletter delivered to you every week, be sure to sign up for our newsletter for opportunities at great pay work.
Other common places that you may like to check are:
Personally, I’ve found some nice high paying work on these sites, but the competition is pretty thick here.
To have a shot at these, you’ll almost always need a minimum of 3-5 links to things were you have written that clearly state you as the Author.
People who advertise on here are paying money from their own pocket to get freelance writers who are worth their snuff, so they want high quality work from high quality writers and they’re often very willing to pay.
You Don’t Have A Way To Properly Promote Yourself
This is one of the biggest things that I think most Freelancers struggle with.
Self promotion is important and at the same time, its frowned upon.
Many freelance writers struggle with how to get the word out about who they are and what they do without being that annoying person who toots their own horn. So how do you do it? How do your promote yourself without coming off as an annoying ‘trumpeter’?
There 3 easy ways of doing this.
I touch on this as one of the main points in my e-book, (5 Reasons Most Freelancers Fails and How To Not Be One Of Them) but I’m going to state this fact again here anyway.
This is vital for every freelance writer to have. Why can I say this? Because I speak from experience.
I’ve written quite a few guest posts in my day, and most that I’ve written for offer a byline with a link to my website. One of my first ever guest posts led to over 5 other people contacting asking me to write for them with a potential of an additional $600 in my pocket that month.
Sure, $600 isn’t what some consider a large amount of money, but it’s not a petty sum either. If I didn’t have a site that allowed these people to contact me, I would have lost that income and connection.
In these guest posts, I don’t promote myself, my name or my personal products. (for the most part anyway) My writing speaks for itself. It’s the way I promote myself and my skill without ever actually saying anything about myself.
My website though, is an extension of that.It’s like my virtual resume and has more than paid for itself.
You can setup a website for free on places like Blogger or WordPress.com. If you decide to go this way for building your online portfolio, be sure you by a custom URL and don’t buy one through the services offered on those sites. It’s just a problem waiting to happen.
Personally, I like and use Namecheap (affiliate link). Thier domains are at a great price plus you get WHOIsGuard privacy protection for free. (You want this, trust me.)
As a freelance writer who moonlights as a web designer, I chose to build my site on a self-hosted WordPress website. T
he above mentioned options are seriously limiting and I’m not about to limit myself.
If you’re on a budget, you can start with something that gets you online like the ones mentioned above, but I truly think it best to have a self-hosted site.
Either way, get your site online and set up a Portfolio page and a Hire Me/Contact page. You’ll be happy you did.
Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn.
Did you know that you can do a search on LinkedIn for “Freelance Writer”, and pull up a slew of people who write for a living? Businesses do it all the time and they’ll contact people who have good profiles that meet their needs.
Some of your best clients can come from here, but you have to know how to utilize it correctly. This starts with a good profile. (I plan to re-write my own in the coming weeks.)
Give yourself about 2 hours to fill this out. I know it seems like a lot of work, but this is a good idea. The stronger your profile looks, the better.
High paying clients that are looking for serious writers will look to places like this when they do a search on you. (And yes, they’ll do a search.)
This is also a good way to show your professionalism and your work to a market of people in the business world.
My biggest piece of advice just might be this tip here.
Get yourself some business cards, put a link to your site and your LinkedIn and go to some local meetups in your area.
As a writer, you’re working for yourself and thus you are a business. Every business needs a marketing and promotion strategy and many writers forget this small, but significant fact.
Go out. Meet local business people. Get to know the people in your community and tell them what you do.
This is where self promotion comes to shine and where it’s completely acceptable. Why try to get work from someone who lives 3,ooo miles away when you could have your best paying client just down the block?
Better yet, face to face clients like this tend to bring in reoccurring revenue streams. If you can write good online content for SEO purposes, there is a large market for small businesses in need of a content strategy that is often never met.
Become their solution. Be that superstar writer for businesses in your local area.
This is your local market. Dive in!
There is more to life than $5 dollar article submissions and $20 guest posts. This is why I started this site. I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that you can succeed in what you’re trying to accomplish.
That is, to make a living from your writing without scraping by.
You can do it! I know it’s sort of difficult now, but it doesn’t have to be. Now I want to here from you. What are your struggles? Have you felt like you’ve hit a dead end in your freelance writing career? Be sure to leave your comments and I’ll do my best to respond.
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