Freelance Writing – 5 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid

5 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid when Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is a rewarding career with the potential for financial independence and freedom of expression. Whether you’re just getting started or have been freelancing for years, it’s important to remember that in order to succeed in this business you must learn from others’ mistakes – not your own. Avoid these common pitfalls to ensure your business is profitable and sustainable:

1. Not Protecting Your Writing

In the excitement of landing a new assignment, writers often overlook something extremely important: copyrighting their work . After all, you’ve been hired by a publication or website to do these pieces and it’s not like they’re going anywhere; right? Wrong.

As we explained in an earlier post, ” Why Freelance Writers Should Copyright Their Work ,” your articles may end up where you least expect them! It may be on another site that gives proper attribution (such as a link back to your original piece), but the page count could also disappear into thin air, with no indication that your words made it there in the first place.

How to Avoid It

Blog writing is particularly susceptible to copyright infringement, but you should always register your full name and the date of publication with the U.S. Copyright Office . If your post is ever plagiarized or used without attribution, you’ll have proof that it was yours first and can take legal action if necessary (see our article on what to do if other writers steal from you ). You should also keep all documents related to assignments – invoices, work agreements/contracts, payment receipts – as evidence that you completed a piece for a specific client.

2. Thinking There’s No Value in Writing for Free

Don’t immediately dismiss opportunities that involve working for free; such experiences could be extremely valuable down the road. Lou Schuler , a fitness journalist and author, recently attempted to break into the world of magazine writing. He was offered an opportunity to write a piece for a highly respected publication in his industry, but there was one catch: he’d have to do it for free. The editor felt that it would be a great way for the rookie reporter to hone his craft and familiarize himself with the editing process. It turned out to be one of the best (and most profitable) decisions that Schuler ever made.

Even though you’re not paid for your time, understand that these experiences will eventually lead to future opportunities – if only because you’re associated with this reputable website/publication/brand . You’ll gain more exposure, build relationships with editors and may even receive referrals or references.

3. Not Using Social Media to Promote Yourself

Succeeding as a freelance writer is about more than just writing; you also have to promote yourself! After all, how can anyone find out about your work if they don’t know you exist? It’s probably safe to say that most writers now understand the importance of social media , but it seems their enthusiasm wanes with each new tweet or Facebook status update. You wouldn’t ignore clients who contact you for business, so why should you reject social media opportunities?

How to Avoid It

Go beyond simply tweeting about your latest blog post (even though this may be helpful, too). Start interacting with current and potential clients by joining conversations and participating in discussions. This is a great way to let others know who you are and may even lead to future business – whether it’s through Twitter or your website/blog!

4. Writing for One Client Too Often

Have you ever written an article that was such a perfect fit for a client’s site that they kept asking you (and paying you) to come back? It can be very tempting to exclusively focus on these loyal clients, but if another publication is willing to pay your full rate, there may be benefits beyond the check itself. The more experience you have with different topics and publications, the higher demand will be for your writing skills . What once seemed like a boring topic could later become your and what seemed impossible to write about could be your most popular post to date!

How to Avoid It

If you do decide to write for this publication, make sure that they know up front that you’re also working with at least one other client. They may not like it, but it will prevent any misunderstandings down the road.

5. Not Asking for What You Want

Don’t let fear of rejection keep you from asking for what you deserve. A new writer might feel comfortable asking an established author how much she charges per article because he feels intimidated by her success and is reluctant to put himself in the same league as his idol – even though he thinks his work is just as good (if not better). On the other hand, a more experienced writer might overcharge a new client because he’s embarrassed to admit that his rate is too low.

How to Avoid It

Negotiate the best price you can with your current clients, but don’t feel like you’re obligated to give them preferential treatment. Asking for what you want (and need) will help keep your services in demand and establish you as confident professional who knows how to set limits.

Now that you have heard about these mistakes , it is time for hope! Check out our latest post on How To Promote Your Freelance Writing Business ! Comment below if this was helpful or share it on social media so others can learn from your experience!

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