Friday, June 15, 2018

7 Things I Learned The Hard Way As a Freelance Writer

Getting started as a freelance writer is often a rocky path with no exact guideline on how to move forward. At least, that’s how it felt back when I started over seven years ago. Here are the seven things that I learned the hard way as a freelance writer that I wish someone would’ve told me about to avoid them.

Ask For Clarification ASAP

One of the first things I learned as a freelancer is that the instructions given to you aren’t always the clearest. Often, you’ll have clients that seem to think you’re a mind reader with what they want because to them the instructions are clear as day. In some cases, the topic is self-explanatory for what they want, but not always. If anything about a project is not clear to you, ask for clarification right away, even if it’s something small.

Sometimes, you may not have questions until you actually start researching or writing, so as soon as the question pops up, you should send off a message. There’s nothing worse than finishing writing a piece that you weren’t certain you got the right angle or tone to find that the client isn’t happy with what you’ve written and requests edits.

You’re Only as Good as Your Process

As a freelancer, I’ve developed a process that works for me and helps me to keep most of my clients happy with my work. I don’t often get asked to do revisions, and I like to think that’s because of the process I have in place. I read over the instructions, create an outline of what subheadings I’ll be using, write, read what I write aloud, run it through Grammarly, and read it over again before submitting it. Some assignments, I don’t do anything with what I wrote right away. I wait until a few hours pass or the next day before going over it with fresh eyes.

It seems like a lot of steps to take, but each step helps to make sure that I’m giving my client my best work. When I first started, I didn’t read what I was writing out loud or use a tool like Grammarly. I missed easy mistakes that I was making with my writing because self-editing isn’t always the easiest task and would get dinged with revisions or lower ratings than I wanted. 

You Won’t Please Everyone All of the Time

However, keeping the first two topics in mind, you won’t please all of your clients with everything you do. Some individuals just aren’t happy even with several revisions. I haven’t had this issue with revisions happen too often, but when it does, it stings a bit. It can knock the wind right out of your sails, and derail your whole day if you’re not ready for it.

One of the best ways to take the sting out of the situation is to keep a list of all of the things that you knocked out of the park to reaffirm that your other clients love you and your writing along with the knowledge that some people can’t be pleased. There are those that have this set idea of what they wanted to be written they probably would’ve been better served by writing it themselves. There are others that have no clue about the writing process and give horrible instructions. Some clients will give one set of instructions and then reverse everything they said when it comes to the revisions. These instances can be frustrating to no end but try not to let it shake your faith. More on that to come.

Don’t Be Shy To End a Relationship

As a freelancer, I stayed with toxic clients much longer than I should’ve in many situations. Some clients had lousy payment terms when it came to the work I was providing. Slow payments, late payments, no payment clients are all issues that freelancers have and can be frustrating. If a client isn’t meeting your needs or causing more hassle than they’re worth, cut them out of your schedule. It may mean hustling to find a new client to replace the revenue, but it’ll be worth it to find a better client and cut ties with your problem client.

You Don’t Have to “Pay Your Dues”

There is this idea that some freelancers have that you have to start at the bottom with content mills to get started with writing, but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you want to practice and perfect your skills on these lower grade content assignments, that’s great, but don’t feel that you have to if your writing skills are already honed. Go after those higher paying assignments. You don’t have to wait to “pay your dues.”

Have a Support Group

One of the biggest things that can make any situation easier to deal with is having a support group. That’s not always easy when you’re a freelancer. It’s not like you have an office where your office buddy can lend an ear on the problems you’re having with a client. Plus, you may be in a situation where your friends and family don’t really grasp what you’re doing. Create a support group that’ll help you get through those unreasonable revision requests or annoying clients.

You Can Find Success

A final thing that I learned the hard way as a freelance writer is that you can find success. I started freelancing because it was too expensive to put my newborn into daycare. I wouldn’t have much left of my paycheck, and it didn’t seem worth it. I struggled to get started and had no support. I didn’t feel as though I could make it and just had to keep working at it. I didn’t really have a choice to make it as I had bills that needed to be paid. I still have days when it’s a struggle, but all of the things that I learned to help me get through the freelancing rough patches and move on to better days.

I hope that you can take these seven things that I learned the hard way and add them to you freelance journey to make things easier for you.

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