Starting a new job is HARD. You might be tempted to think that making mistakes kind of goes with the territory.
Here’s the thing. It is hard to start freelance writing online. And most new writers do make a lot of mistakes. But you? YOU ARE DIFFERENT.
You are reading this blog, and that means that you don’t want to make the biggest mistakes most new freelance writers make. You’re taking action. You’re learning and asking for advice. So you can avoid those mistakes.
You can save yourself a lot of heartache — and money.
Is it possible to launch a freelance writing business and never make a single mistake? Yes… probably. If you never take any risks and don’t try to grow.
If you want to make a real living as a freelance writer, then it’s a safe bet that you’ll make a mistake or two along the way. That’s actually how you gain entrance into the freelance writer’s secret society. We have a handshake and everything.
(I’m totally lying. There is no handshake.)
Anyway, you’re going to make mistakes. But you don’t have to make THE BIG MISTAKES detailed here.
There are five critical mistakes that you can avoid — and those mistakes can be the difference between launching a successful freelance writing career… and writing endlessly without making money.
1. You Keep PLANNING to Start — But You Don’t.
There are a fair number of students in my Writing for Money course who spend a LOT of time thinking and planning about HOW to launch a freelance writing career. I give them a roadmap to follow, and they go out and buy highlighters in 64 different colors.
They make the map look LOVELY. Every possibility is carefully considered and mapped. Contingency plans are created and debated. Thoughts are pondered.
But when it comes time to actually start freelance writing? These students refuse to take the first step.
You cannot make money from freelance writing if you do not actually START freelance writing. At some point, you have to suck it up and apply for a job.
You can find a million and one ways to launch your freelance writing career — job sites, querying magazines, approaching businesses — but ONLY YOU can actually get it started. If you need a little kickstart, check out my free, 5-day course on how to be a freelance writer.
I can promise you that you will not make ONE PENNY by thinking about one day, maybe, writing for money.
Oh, and if you’re worried that you’re not good enough to be a freelance writer? Here’s a video I made just for you.
2. You Don’t Want to Choose a Niche.
Choosing a niche means that you choose one area to specialize in. Instead of spending all your time trying to attract every potential client in the world, you can focus on providing an amazing level of service to your ideal client.
You can focus on creating content that your ideal client will love. Content that your ideal client will pay for.
I can introduce you to many writers who insist that they do just fine writing about anything and everything. But when you press them a bit, you’ll usually find out that they spend a lot of time looking for work, and they’re probably making under $50 an hour.
You want to make $75 an hour — or more — and you can do that when you specialize. You can cut down significantly on the time it takes you to do the work, as well as the time it takes you to find the work. You can work less and earn more.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, then go ahead and write about everything. I’ll be over here, watching the new season of House of Cards, because I finished all my work, and I can afford Netflix.
3. You’re Spending Money on Stuff You Don’t Need
You’ll find a lot of people who tell you that you need to build a professional web site in order to get good freelance writing jobs.
This is simply not true.
I have landed many, many freelance writing jobs for excellent pay without a professional freelance writer web site.
I advise new freelance writers to start on Upwork — which many writers poo-poo. Look, I make $125/hour working on Upwork, and I don’t poo-poo that. When you work on Upwork, all you need is to create a great profile overview and some stellar portfolio samples, and you can do that even if you have no experience.
You don’t need a professional web site to get freelance writing work, and I firmly believe that until you start earning consistently, you should not put money into a website.
Yep, a lot of people disagree with me. I’m pretty used to that. It’s been happening for most of my life. And yet, I’m making money, so my advice has clearly worked for me.
4. You Don’t Know How to Showcase Your Benefits
There are so many people in the world who do not understand the difference between features and benefits.
This is sad.
It’s especially sad if you’re a freelance writer and you don’t understand the difference between features and benefits, because
- This is a marketable skill.
- You can sell yourself to clients by showcasing your benefits.
Whenever you are pitching yourself to a client, you should NOT be using the word “I.” Instead, you should be using the word “you.”
Let me explain.
When you pitch your services to a client, you don’t want to say, “I am an awesome writer. I have written these awesome things. I have many awesome skills.”
This is not awesome.
Sometimes, writers think they’re being clever, and they say:
I have many awesome skills, which will benefit you in this way.
Nope. Still not awesome.
Seriously, just get rid of the word “I.” Stick with “you.”
On my Coaching for Writers page, you won’t find the word “I” at all. That’s by design — the coaching isn’t about me. It’s about what my clients need.
5. You’re Not Writing Consistently.
If you want to make money from freelance writing, you need to treat your freelance writing business like a business.
You need to write consistently, and that’s not always easy when you’re at home with kids.
You need to take charge of your time and determine your priorities. And then you need to stick to those priorities and actually do the work.
Saying you want to write, or that you want to improve your writing, or that you want to make money from your writing is not the same as actually writing. If you put in the time to write consistently, every day, you will see results.
Avoid These Mistakes When You Launch Your Freelance Writing Business
Now you know what to look out for and what mistakes to avoid when you launch your freelance writing business.
What mistakes have you made, or which scare you the most?