Top Ten Mistakes Made by New and Not-So-New Freelance Writers!

As a writing coach, I meet many new and not-so-new freelance writers who are struggling to make a living. While the exact cause for each writer’s struggle is not the same, there are some common mistakes I see most of these writers make. Here’s my list of the top ten mistakes made by new and not-so-new freelance writers.

1. No Real Career Plan – A plan is like a roadmap. When you’re just starting out, if you don’t know where you’re trying to go, how will you know when you get there? Take the time to make a career plan, so you know exactly what the freelance writing career you’re trying to build should look like. Then, make sure your plan includes consistent, planned actions to take to build that career.

2. No Real Focus – This goes along with not having a career plan. Many writers never take the time to figure out the kinds of writing they really enjoy. Instead, they leap into freelance writing, figuring they’ll simply take whatever work they can get. Usually, the work that comes their way is not the kind of work they enjoy, so they give up before they ever really get started. Plus, there are thousands of writers out there who will take whatever work comes their way. It’s much better to focus on a particular niche and become a recognized expert in that area.

3. Little or No Training – If you want to become one of the top earning copywriters, for example, you need to spend time (and money) learning how to write GREAT copy. If you want to become a children’s book author, then take some courses that will train you to write specifically FOR children. Don’t just assume that if you like to write you can write anything and people will be glad to pay you for it.

4. No Understanding of winning queries and cover letters – Many beginning freelance writers never take the time to learn how to craft a winning query or cover letter. The ones who stick with freelance writing eventually get the hang of it, but when they’re just starting out, they waste a LOT of time writing queries and cover letters that couldn’t sell drinking water to a man dying of thirst!

5. A Weak Professional Resume – Too many freelance writers use the same all-purpose resume they’ve used for years instead of creating a professional resume specifically to attract writing clients and land well-paying assignments.

6. No website, blog, or online portfolio – Any freelance writer today needs some sort of online presence, whether that be through a website or blog. Part of that site should be an online portfolio of the writer’s work, plus a list of available writing services. Also, the site needs to look professional. If you aren’t a web designer, hire a professional to help you develop your site.

7. Under-charging for their services – This is probably the biggest mistake made by freelance writers. They also tend to accept jobs that pay too little. One of the reasons they under-charge is because they underestimate how much time and work a particular job will take. Right at the start, they should add 10% to any estimate they give a potential client because the job will probably end up taking more time and effort than they thought.

8. Fear of Taking On Well-Paying Assignments – Many beginning freelancers are afraid to even apply for jobs that pay well. As a result, they stay stuck working for peanuts for months, sometimes even years. You won’t land well-paying assignments unless you go after them. Don’t be afraid to do just that – go AFTER jobs that pay well. If you’ve trained and worked hard to become a good writer, then you’re worth the money!

9. No marketing plan – Many freelance writers are weak at self-promotion, so they have no real plan for marketing their writing services. Freelancers need to be promoting their writing products and services all the time and they need some sort of specific strategy for doing so.

10. Little or No follow-up – Most people won’t hire you just from seeing your website, blog, or business card. They’ll need to get to know, like, and trust you. In other words, you need some method for following up with people who call you, email you, or visit your website to find out about your writing services. If you get good at follow up, you’ll have a steady stream of clients to write for!

Whether you’re new or not-so-new to freelance writing, avoid these mistakes and you won’t need to struggle to build your business.

All the best,

P.S. Writing Career won’t budge? You need The Morning Nudge!

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Two Tips for Building Your Freelance Writing Business Quickly

by Suzanne Lieurance

You can build a successful freelance writing business rather quickly if you’ll follow these two tips:

1. Avoid the urge to keep learning and studying things before you take any REAL action to earn money. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re building your freelance writing business when you’re taking courses and studying other writers to see what they do to make a living. But you’ll get discouraged and lose interest in freelance writing if you don’t start earning at least a little income rather quickly. To do this, put your focus on those actions that have the potential to create some immediate (or almost immediate) income. You may need some additional training at some point. But when you’re trying to get your business started, do what it takes to get some assignments or clients right away.

2. Avoid the urge to create more and more products or services if the products and services you already offer aren’t selling well yet. Instead, focus on creating a system for selling what you already offer, then follow your system. Once those products and services are selling well on a regular basis, then create additional products and services.

If you do nothing but follow these two tips this week to build your freelance writing business, you should still have a very productive week!

For more tips to help you build your freelance writing business, sign up for my free weekly newsletter, Build Your Business Write.

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A Few Tips for Setting Up a Workable Writing Schedule

Are you trying to write a novel within the next few weeks or months, but you just can’t seem to stick to a regular writing schedule?

Here are some tips that have worked in the past for members of The Working Writer’s Club.

These tips will work for anyone who wants to write a book within a short period of time.

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1. Set up your writing time as a regular appointment with yourself – Plan specific times you will write each week, then write down these times on a calendar or day planner, just the way you would any other appointment.

2. Break down your book into small chunks. If you’re writing a novel, break down each chapter into scenes. Then schedule time to write just one scene at a time.

3. Give yourself some slack while you’re committed to completing your book. Save some of your other writing for later. You want to plan, start and finish your book within a short period of time. You won’t be able to do that if you also try to write a million other things.

4. Let your friends and family know you’ve made a major commitment to writing your book over the next few weeks or months. If they know ahead of time that you won’t be so available at specific times each week (because you’ll be writing), they’ll get used to it. Remember, we TEACH other people how to treat us. Teach your friends and family to value you as a writer!

5. Realize you will be more productive some weeks than you are during other weeks. Some weeks a chapter or section of your book will seem to write itself. Other weeks you’ll struggle to write a single sentence. Realize this and just go with the flow! A struggle is no reason to give up on your book! ALL writers struggle at some point in every book they write (some writers may say otherwise, but I think they’re much like mothers. They tend to forget how difficult the birthing process was; otherwise every child would be an ONLY child, and every book would be the ONLY book any writer ever writes).

6. Limit distractions during your writing time. You may need to get out of your own house in order to write because your kids or your spouse just can’t understand that you’re working when you’re writing. If that’s the case, go to the library or a bookstore or coffeeshop and write. But then, don’t answer your cell phone every five minutes when you’re there or get online and check your email or talk to other people. You must write!

7. Try to schedule your writing for your most creative times of the day. Some writers are morning people, others are night owls. If you schedule your writing for YOUR most creative time of the day, the work will be much easier and faster.

8. Create a reasonable writing schedule for yourself. You probably won’t be able to write for hours every day, so don’t even expect to do that. It would be much better to write for 15-30 minutes every day, or perhaps decide to write a chapter a week on one particular day each week. Figure out what will work best for you based on your family, your regular job, your writing style, etc.

Happy writing!

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Successful Freelancing – How’s Your Timing?

Timing seems to play such an important role in any kind of success. Whether you’re a writer, business owner, or even a struggling actor, ultimately, you’ve got to get the timing right.

It’s easy to see how important timing is for actors. They’re usually on stage, or in a scene, with another actor or group of actors and every bit of dialogue and every action from each actor is designed to mesh with the dialogue and actions of the other actors. If even one actor in the group gets the timing wrong, it throws off the timing for the entire bunch and the story falls flat.

It’s also easy to see how timing is important for business owners. They must deliver their products and services in a timely manner – not too early nor too late – to meet the specific needs of each and every customer.

Timing is also crucial for success as a writer. It plays such an important role in a number of ways.

First, writers have to know how to pick up on current trends and events and turn them into interesting articles and/or stories that will appeal not only to readers, but first to editors who will buy these types of pieces.

Secondly, writers have to be very quick at responding to ads for writing assignments or writing jobs. The writing world is very competitive. And, to quote a popular saying, “he who hesitates is lost.” The writer who doesn’t immediately fire off a cover letter or query in response to a current job ad usually loses that job to a writer who did.

Writers must also develop a sense of “timing” by keeping up with various markets they hope to write for and then learning to “anticipate” the needs of the editor for that publication. That’s why various articles about writing encourage writers to read several issues of any publication they wish to write for before submitting or querying. Reviewing past issues helps the writer see what kinds of topics have been covered recently and which ones would likely interest the editor. It’s such fun to have an editor respond to your query with, “Yes, I’d been thinking about an article on that topic for ages, but I just hadn’t gotten around to assigning it. I’d be glad to have you write it. Your timing for this piece is perfect!”

If you’re trying to succeed as a freelance writer, then ask yourself this question, “How’s My Timing?”

And if you need more tips to build your freelance writing business, find out about the Working Writer’s Club. For only $9.99 per month, I’ll show you how to earn at least $100 a day as a writer!

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