Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
Want to get the most out of being a freelance writer? It takes more than just being able to construct good sentences and finding good clients. In fact, you could say there are several things you must avoid if you really want to be a success.
Since January of 2012, I’ve made mistakes and fixed a lot of problems for myself and others. I mean, no one is perfect. But I can say that I am a success today because of that journey.
So, what can you do to help ensure you’ll have a good experience as a freelance writer?
1. You Must Avoid Procrastination
Perhaps one of the biggest problems a lot of writers have is procrastinating the task. I’ve seen this happen in myself as well as those I’ve tried to help get into writing for clients.
For example, one person I tried to help a couple of years ago would accept an order from a Textbroker client and wait the entire 24 hours before turning it in.
He wanted to make sure it was the “utmost” quality. Sitting and watching reality TV all day didn’t help, either.
The problem with that is he took too much time for only a $5 article.
Delivering the best product possible is ideal, but it shouldn’t take you 24 hours. For me, I can usually hand in a 350 word order in 15 to 20 minutes.
Don’t wait until the last minute before turning in a piece. Clients like speedy returns, and it’s possible to be fast while offering superior quality.
And the more work you turn in, the more money you make throughout the day. Not to mention how some clients may even start sending you direct orders because of your efficiency.
2. Stay Away from Known Diversions
One of my biggest problems is being easily sidetracked. I see something on YouTube that piques my interest and I immediately click it. Sometimes I feel like a goldfish; a short memory span that is easily entertained by shiny objects.
You must avoid diversions like these if you want to get the most out of your day. As a freelance writer, you’re most likely paid for productivity, not time. This means every second you’re not actually typing for a client, you’re not paid.
Nowadays, I make sure all of my writing is done by 3:30 pm before I even look at YouTube, Netflix or play games.
After all, would you do those things if you were working for a major company? Probably not. Well, at least not without being fired.
Chris Desatoff brought up a great idea about pretending you’re working for a company and treating freelancing like an actual career. Because in reality, it is.
3. A Lack of Proper Health
Being able to type, sentence structure, grammar and memory recall are all vastly important as a freelance writer. And yes, every one of these points benefit from good physical and mental health.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be successful if you’re out of shape or obese. In fact, I started my career as a freelance writer at 280+ pounds. However, exercise does improve memory and how the brain functions. [note]https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/well/move/how-exercise-may-help-the-memory-grow-stronger.html[/note]
The foods you eat will also impact how you process information. [note]http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20434658,00.html#healthy-food-and-memory-0[/note]
This is something I can completely agree with. I’ve noticed a significant difference in ability and productivity after going on my latest health kick. I’ve lost 70 pounds and now produce far more work than I have in the past.
Things just seem to come easier to me while writing today. Of course this could also be the result of writing for more than six years. But in general, I just feel better both physically and mentally.
4. Being “Above” Certain Work
Another person I tried to help break into freelance writing felt he was above a $3 article. “It’s not worth my time,” he would say. And it’s this mentality you must avoid if you want to make money and attract quality clients.
Let’s take that same $3 article. If I was to complete it, I would probably spend about 10 minutes creating the content. If I did six of them inside the hour, I just made $18. Which is more than what he was making at the time.
Instead of spending 30 minutes looking for that “perfect” article, he could have made about $6.
Yes, it’s disappointing when all that’s available are small $1 articles in content mills like Textbroker. But when you consider how long it takes you to do them and how many you can complete inside of an hour, is it really a waste?
I remember a couple of years ago, Textbroker had a major online client who wanted thousands of product descriptions. These were all super-small and ranged between $0.75 and $0.95 each. However, I also made an average of $28 per hour because I could do a lot of them in a very short amount of time.
Don’t think of the job as being “too low” in price to complete. Instead, look at how much you make throughout the week by doing as many as possible.
Remember, it’s all about productivity.
5. Instant Gratification
Some people think they can start off making hundreds or even thousands of dollars a week as a freelance writer as a beginner. The truth is, you’re probably not going to see a lot of money rolling in for several weeks if not months.
Unfortunately, the open market for content writers really makes it difficult to bring a great deal of money. You might hear stories of people making in excess of $1 per word.
However, very few freelancers make this amount today unless they have a contract with a publisher for a set amount of words per month.
In reality, you’re lucky to get more than $0.02 per word depending on the client. That’s because there are so many writers in the world who will work for less.
Does this mean you’ll never reach a high pay rate? No. In fact, I’m paid very well from my current client. However, it took a lot of time and effort to get this company.
The best thing you can do is keep going, build onto your skills and offer the best experience to every client willing to pay. You never know when a major company will put you on a retainer for contracted content.
6. Not Creating a Budget
Freelance writers like myself don’t get the benefit of sick leave, vacation time or even health insurance paid out of our paychecks. As a result, all of these things need to be addressed on a regular basis.
It can be awfully tempting to spend your money once it hits the bank account. However, you must avoid doing so if you want to secure a brighter financial future.
Do you have an account set aside for your retirement? I do in the form of stocks which pay dividends.
What kind of finances do you need to focus on as a freelance writer?
- Savings for the event of being sick or injured.
- Savings for going on vacations without worrying about income.
- Setting aside a retirement fund as you most likely don’t have a 401(k).
- Paying your taxes, as you don’t want to go to jail for evasion.
- Health and dental insurance.
I try to set aside 10% of anything I make from clients into various savings and investment accounts. And I don’t think it’s enough, really.
The point is you need to take care of your finances if you want to maintain a level of success and security. You can’t write for clients if you’re in jail for not paying your taxes.
7. Paying to Work
Perhaps one of the most profound things you must avoid at all costs is paying to work. I’ve seen a few ads for writers claiming you can make $35 to $45 per hour as a freelancer.
However, they want you to pay for “private access” to a database to find those jobs.
The fact of the matter is, you can find work just by doing a simple Google search. That’s how I found Textbroker, WriterAccess and HireWriters. In fact, the client I have now recently advertised a position for a content writer like myself directly on the company website.
You should never have to pay to work. Legitimate businesses who want you as a writer will never ask for money. At least, none of the ones I use do.
Money you shell out for services like this is net-negative income. This means you’re spending more than you’re making right off the bat.
Effort Will Influence Success
This is only a short list of things you must avoid. As you begin as a freelancer, you’ll undoubtedly come up with plenty of your own. The trick is to learn from every experience and become a better person because of them.
Put in the effort, and you will succeed in time.[template id=”2089″]
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