Want to turn your writing talent into a career? Freelance writing certainly isn’t an easy career path, but for those that find success it can be extremely rewarding. The entire field has moved online, so if you’re focusing on paper publications this could be your first mistake – you’ll find most of your opportunities through blogs. Here are just a few other mistakes to avoid when chasing a career as a freelance writer.
Not owning a blog yourself
Every freelance writer needs their own blog. A personal blog can serve as a portfolio for your talent when getting your first freelance writing jobs. It allows people to assess just how good a writer you are and tells people that you’re serious about this writing thing. A personal blog can also be a source of income – one that you may have more control over. If you’re struggling to get jobs working for other blogs, you can always publish a sponsored post on your own blog as a fall back option. Sites like Fiverr are great for finding paid writing opportunities – this could be anything from an album review to a paid advertisement piece on a new holiday. Meanwhile, if your blog grows and gets lots of readers, you may be able to make a bit of money through ad revenue.
WordPress and Blogger are just two of the most popular blogging platforms – both of which are free. Of course, you may want to pay for a domain name to make your blog feel more official, which you can do so through sites like GoDaddy.
Not cold pitching
You may be able to find a steady paid gig at a blog or a company writing content that’s given to you, but if you really want to turn your love of writing into a career and get your work published on those bigger platforms, you’ll need to do a bit of cold pitching. This basically involves contacting a publication you’ve never had contact with and persuading them to let you write for them. By coming up with an engaging post idea, you may be able to sway the editor of that publication into giving you a chance.
Cold pitching can require some persistence – it’s worth following up your pitches. Obviously, you want to stay polite and professional and not keep harassing them, as this will do nothing for you cause. Also try to stick to email when contacting editors and try not pitch people via Twitter/text/climbing-through-their-bedroom window at night, as this may just annoy them.
Failing to make use of social media
Social media is a writer’s best friend. It’s the perfect marketing medium for sharing your work and getting more exposure. You can also use social media to find paid writing opportunities – there are many Facebook groups specifically set up for advertising opportunities. LinkedIn meanwhile functions as a public CV, allowing you to list your writing achievements and previous jobs that you’ve held in order to help persuade people that you’re a serious writer. All in all, social media is an important tool for building your reputation and finding new work.
Prioritising you own work over client work
Client work has to come first if you want to build a reputation as a reliable writer. If you miss a deadline because you were too preoccupied writing content for your personal blog, you could blow the opportunity to ever write for that publication again. Make sure that you’re putting clients first – your own work can wait.
Using copyrighted material without permission
The web is tightening up its copywriting laws and more blogs and publications are finding themselves in legal battles for using a photograph or a quote without permission. Make sure that when using someone else’s content, you always provide a link to the source underneath or a description to tell people where you got that content from. You may also want to change the search settings when using Google or Bing to find images, so that you’re only using images that are other users have allowed you to use for free. Not caring about copyright laws could get you into trouble with publications and blogs that you write for. At the very least, the content will be deleted, which could affect the quality of your post.
Forgetting to do your taxes
As a freelance writer, you will likely be in charge of filing your taxes. It’s important that you don’t forget to do this, otherwise you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. Calculating taxes and expenses can get complicated – if you’re finding it difficult to do it manually on a spreadsheet, consider investing in some accounting software such as UltimateTax to help make things easier. Not only will it speed up the bookkeeping process, but it will reduce the likeliness of any errors. Similarly, try not to forget sending invoices where necessary – forget to the send them and you may not get paid for your work! Set reminders when it comes to payments if you think you’re likely to forget.
Not fact checking your work correctly
There’s a lot of fake news on the web. If you’re writing something that contains factual information, make sure that you’re checking your facts to ensure that they’re from trustworthy sources. A statement thrown out by someone on a web forum isn’t a source you can trust – look into studies or quote government sources. Keeping your content factually sound will prevent angry comments and protect the reputation of the publication that you’re writing for – you don’t want to be the reason that nobody trusts that publication any more as a reliable source.