Freelance writing isn’t easy-especially when you’re first starting out. Many new writers get sidetracked, or discouraged. Let’s examine some common pitfalls of freelance writing so you know what to avoid in this potentially stressful career.
1. Charging too little: A gig that pays 15/hr may seem tempting-until you consider that freelance writers lack the health insurance and benefits that come with mainstream job packages. And let’s not forget taxes! If you’re first starting out, $25/hr is a reasonable amount to charge-provided you’re willing to provide quality original content.
2. Not Reading Enough: As a writer, it’s important to learn and grow. It’s impossible to do this if you’re writing and writing without studying different styles and techniques. Active readers are curious students, who understand how to observe when reading. When you choose a niche, invest in it by purchasing books on the topic (this will ultimately be tax deductible anyway). If you can’t afford to spend a lot, visit your library or second hand bookstore-keep in mind that a hard copy is preferable because it allows you to write in the margins and really make the book your own.
3. Not Writing Enough: This is another common pitfall-it’s important to do research, but sometimes we get caught up in it and end up not writing anything! Practice isn’t optional when you’re a writer-writers write, and you need to write often. All writers should have a blog because they allow you to promote yourself and track the growth and progress of your writing style.
4. Waiting to be Discovered: So you have a blog. Are you promoting it? Daily? Are you looking for opportunities as a guest writer? Do you have gigs lined up to pay the bills?
5. Not diversifying: Learning to specialize and flesh out your niche is important. But you never want to rely solely on one niche. The best tactic when you’re first starting out is to pick a niche that is evergreen (these are niches that won’t ever go out of style-like health, marketing, and parenting). When you’ve gotten experience in that niche, try out another one (whilst maintaining contacts in your first niche). Eventually you’ll find the niches you enjoy writing about most, and you’ll have diversified contacts (aka amplified job security!) Diversification also means writing in multiple mediums (trade mags, glossies, online…)
6. Getting Discouraged: This is a career where persistence pays off. Spoiler alert: You will get rejected. This rejection will continue throughout your career. Growing a thick skin and converting criticism into motivation goes a long way.
Which of these pitfalls have you fallen prey to? What advice can you offer newbies in the field?