I’ve been a freelance writer for a long time, and I did a whole lot of making it up as I went along. Here are 5 of the huge freelance writer mistakes I’ve made in my decade-long career… and how you can do better.
1. Wasting Time On A Social Media Presence And Content Marketing
Social media marketing is NOT the thing new freelance writers should be focusing on. You should be figuring out if you can make money in your career as a freelance writer first. You need to find work, not set up a Facebook page. If you don’t have a client yet, don’t set up a Facebook page.
You should be building real relationships, which you can do through writer Facebook groups. Post and comment, get noticed, and be visible. Get to know other writers, other freelance service providers, and people who might be clients. For more specifics, see my post Finding Writing Clients on Facebook.
The same goes for content marketing. Don’t worry about having a blog, email newsletter, or an opt-in at this point. You need to be focusing on finding work!
2. Reading About Marketing Instead Of Actually Marketing
Marketing doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It can be, and it does have somewhat of a reputation as one, but being a marketer with integrity is what you as a freelance writer are aiming to be. That doesn’t mean that you need to educate yourself on every gosh-darn aspect of marketing in the world–sales funnels, webinars, sales copy (oh, my!).
As a freelance writer, you need to take action, not just be in motion. In other words, you need to get out in front of people. Market your writing ability. Tell people you’re a freelance writer and you’re available for hire. Put it on your email signature.
You only need to ask yourself and answer these 3 questions: Who are the people? Where can I find them? How can I get myself out in front of them?
3. Not Buying The Right Training
At first, when I had almost no money coming in, I didn’t buy any training. My thought was if I could find the information on Google, why would I pay for it? But the benefit of doing a training is saving yourself so much time! With the right training, of course.
Even so, I didn’t give myself permission to spend any money on training, even when I had a bit more to spend. And then last year, I went overboard, because I had a lot of money coming in. I spent too much money on training, some that I didn’t really need but that sounded useful or I liked the trainer, etc.
To avoid both these mistakes, see my post How To Know If That New Course Is Worth It.
4. Letting New Writing Formats Intimidate Me
I turned down thousands of dollars worth of work because I was too intimidated to learn how to do the type of writing people were asking for. I started out writing blog posts and was comfortable writing them. My clients began asking me to write other things, like sales pages and email sequences, but I said no instead of figuring out how to do them.
What a biggie of freelance writer mistakes! I wish I had been braver. I want you to be braver.
You can always do a practice round. You can probably find a $12 book about how to do it on Amazon. I bought a $20 one on how to write case studies when I got brave enough to try writing case studies. Imagine that.
If you want an all-inclusive course on how to write over a dozen different formats, check out my course Copy Confidential. It’s a direct result of my own experience of not knowing how to write different formats. I wish I’d had it, so I created it.
5. Focusing Only On Client Work And Not On Building My Business
By the time I’d gotten a few clients, I made the mistake of just delivering client work as fast as I could for rates that were too low. At that time, I was a single mom with a young son, and we were just trying to survive, but I really should have set aside a bit of time for working towards improving our future by building my business.
I could have implemented the 90/10 rule, which means that 90% of your working hours that aren’t spent doing client work should be spent trying to get more clients, and 10% of those same working hours should be spent building your own business.
Let’s break it down: if you have 12 hours a week to dedicate to your freelance writing business, and you have 2 hours worth of client work, that leaves 10 hours for the 90/10 rule. Which means you would spend 9 hours that week actively trying to get more clients, and 1 hour building your business (working on your website or a new skill, etc.).
If you have questions about any freelance writer mistakes, come join my free Facebook Group, The Ink Well Guild. We have new and experienced writers in the group, and I’m frequently in there, responding to people. We help each other out with advice and feedback.
If you need help getting great writing samples for your portfolio, I have a course called Clips Camp.
It’s a three-week course for new and advanced new freelance writers who want to get started with high-paid client work. If you’re on Upwork or Fiverr and miserable, if you haven’t even done anything to get started and you don’t know what the first step is, then Clips Camp is for you.
I teach you how to put together a solid portfolio of writing samples that position you as the kind of awesome writer that awesome clients want to hire. If you want in on that or you just want more information, go to clipscamp.com, and I will see you on the inside!