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Freelance Writing Tips and Tricks: 10 Common Mistakes Freelance Writers Make (and How to Avoid Them!)

freelance writing

Have you been kicking around the idea of potentially launching a freelance writing career? If so, it’s going to be extremely important for you to go about doing it in the right way.

There are a lot of people who make a bunch of freelance writing mistakes during their first year as a freelance writer and never recover from them. You should do whatever it takes to avoid the most common mistakes by freelancer writers so that you’re able to get your new career off to a strong start.

By learning how to be a freelance writer and then doing what you can to steer clear of these mistakes, you’ll give yourself every opportunity to succeed. Here are ten freelance writing mistakes that people make far too often and some freelance writing advice to help you work your way around them.

1. Assuming Life as a Freelance Writer Is Going to Be Easy

Many people are under the impression that freelance writers are able to make a living while sleeping until noon every day and spending every afternoon parked in front of the TV. While some people might take this approach to freelance writing, it rarely works out well for them!

If you’re going to be a successful freelance writer, you have to a hustler. You have to constantly be looking for new clients and new assignments to take on. If you’re not willing to work hard at your craft, it’s going to be almost impossible for you to carve out a career in the freelance writing industry for very long.

2. Starting a Freelance Writing Career Without Any Clients

When you first decide that you’re going to try and become a freelance writer, you should hold off on quitting your current job until you’re able to find a few clients. You don’t want to dive headfirst into the world of freelance writing if you don’t have any freelance jobs lined up.

More often than not, you may need to start your career by writing articles for free to build up a portfolio. It’s going to take some time to prove to others that you have what it takes to create great content for them.

3. Failing to Take the Time to Learn How to Land Freelance Writing Gigs

It’s a lot easier to find freelance writing jobs than it used to be. But even still, it can be challenging landing freelance writing gigs if you don’t know how to go about doing it.

When you’re in the process of trying to transition into a freelance writer, you should figure out where to find gigs that will help you pay the bills. In some cases, you might see them on job boards, but in others, you may need to network with those at different publications to learn about freelance writing opportunities that they have available.

4. Refusing to Carve Out a Niche in the Freelance Writing Industry

The second you decide that you’re going to become a freelance writer, you should try to do whatever you have to do to set yourself apart from other freelance writers. You are, after all, going to be competing with them for freelance writing positions.

One great way to do this is by carving out a niche in the industry. You should find topics that you enjoy writing about and focus on writing as many articles as you can on them. It’ll make you look like an expert on certain subjects and increase your chances of convincing people to let you write about them.

5. Pitching Freelance Writing Ideas in the Wrong Places

Once you’ve found your niche in the freelance writing industry, you should get into the habit of pitching freelance writing ideas to the places that cover the specific topics you’re most interested in. You’re better off doing this than casting a wide net and pitching ideas everywhere.

You’ll be able to develop relationships with different publications when you pitch ideas in this way. With any luck, it’ll lead to you getting work more consistently from them and allowing you to bring in a more predictable income.

6. Using Poor Spelling and Grammar When Completing Freelance Writing Assignments

Do you know the difference between “there,” “their,” and “they’re”? If you don’t, freelance writing is not going to be for you!

When you get hired to put together an article, a blog, a press release, a product description, or something else, the expectation is going to be that your spelling and grammar will be flawless. If they’re not, your clients are going to be disappointed and think twice before hiring you again.

It would be a good idea for you to brush up on your spelling and grammar prior to launching your freelance writing career. It would also be a good idea to download a good grammar checker to your computer. 

7. Forgetting to Read Through Instructions When Working on Freelance Writing Assignments

Most of your freelance writing clients are going to give you very clear and detailed instructions when they send an assignment in your direction. They’ll tell you exactly how they want something laid out and expect you to deliver what they’re looking for.

If you’re not someone who is good at following instructions, freelance writing might not be the right career for you. It’s going to be essential for you to give your clients what they want in the end.

8. Demonstrating an Inability to Meet Deadlines on Freelance Writing Assignments

In addition to letting you know how they want something written, your freelance writing clients are also going to expect you to deliver copy back to them within a reasonable amount of time. Most will set deadlines for you and anticipate you hitting them with no problems.

You need to be prepared to meet deadlines your clients set for you, no matter what. The last thing that you want to do is get onto a client’s bad side by sending them something two or three days late. They might not be as quick to send you an assignment the next time around.

9. Exhibiting Poor Communication Skills When Touching Base With Freelance Writing Clients

One of the joys of working as a freelance writer is that you’re not going to have to answer to a boss every day. You will be your own boss and will be in charge of policing yourself.

You will, however, have to stay in constant communication with any clients that you have and keep them updated on the progress that you’re making on your assignments. You should be ready to take phone calls and respond to emails at the drop of a hat for your clients. 

10. Spending Freelance Writing Money That Should Be Set Aside to Pay Taxes

When you work for someone else, they’ll take care of taking taxes out of each of your paychecks so that you don’t have to worry about spending a small fortune to get your income taxes squared away every April. But when you work for yourself, it’ll be your responsibility to squirrel away money to cover your taxes.

You should try to save about 25% of each of your freelance writing checks to pay taxes with. Don’t make the mistake of not doing this during your first year and getting hit with a huge tax bill.

Try Not to Make Any of These Freelance Writing Mistakes at Any Point

When you launch your freelance writing career, you’re going to be so excited about it that you might inadvertently make some or even all of these mistakes. Now that you know about them, you should try to avoid doing this.

Keep these mistakes in mind as you attempt to solidify your standing within the freelance writing industry. It’ll help guide you in the right direction as you work to carve out a successful career.

Would you like to start working on freelance writing assignments right away? Fill out our writer application to see if you have what it takes to be a freelance writer.

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