Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Top 8 Reasons Freelance Writers Fail At Their Career:

#8: Working for peanuts: Honestly, I love peanuts as much as any monkey, but to work for them? I think not. I did do that once however, when I first started freelancing. I accepted $5 per blog post for a site that was ‘just setting up’. It wasn’t bad in that I had the freedom to select my topics and post as much or as little as I wanted to. But then two things happened; I spent a lot of time blogging for this $5 cheque and I was hesitant to ask clients to pay me a very much higher fee. And then one day, it struck me; I have years of professional writing experience, I am a good writer and I love what I do. I really don’t need to be blogging for next to nothing. And so I stopped and demanded a higher fee from clients who not surprisingly, said yes. Deliver quality and demand a decent fee for it.

# 7: Failing to treat your writing as a full-time career: Working freelance doesn’t mean working part-time and it’s very easy to confuse the two terms. While you’d like to work your own hours and be your own boss, the fact remains that unless you put in a 9-5 time sheet and realize that your clients are in actuality your boss, you just won’t get paid enough to have a career.

# 6: Not seizing business opportunities: Freelance writers must also be business people and seize new and exciting opportunities to write for. If you write for blogs, then how about online publishing houses? Writing web content? Perhaps you can also specialize in biographies. There are tons of possibilities out there but the competition is tough. So acting quickly and effectively makes all the different between getting a job and losing an opportunity.

# 5: Not specializing in a niche: You could become a general writer and compete with thousands of other writers, or you could become a niche writer and specialize in a chosen field. Writers of the former category will spend more time and earn less money than those in the latter.

# 4: Getting distracted: It’s so easy to get distracted. It’s a nice day and a jog seems tempting. Also the laundry needs to be picked up and you did offer to do the cooking today. And yes, there is that thing called a marketing plan, which is waiting to be written. Which one gets priority? If it’s during your working hours, then there should be no question about it- your housework and fun-time can and should wait until you’ve shut off the computer and turned off your desk lamp.

# 3: Not having a marketing plan: Which brings me to this very important point. Most freelance writers do not have a marketing plan! They spend so much time job hunting that they do not have time to market their services. A percentage of your time needs to be spent each day marketing your services to both current and potential clients.

# 2: Chasing the wrong kind of clients:
If you find yourself chasing the wrong kind of clients; the ones who ‘do not want your services immediately but may need them in the future’, or the ones who are ‘just setting up and cannot afford to pay you much’, then step back and reassess your efforts. It may be better to give these clients a miss or put them on hold and begin to seek better paying projects.

# 1: Failing to set goals: This is one of the biggest problems with any business, not just freelancing. Your goals will keep changing as will your work methodologies and ethics. But the core values should always remain the same and it’s these values which need to be translated into short, medium and long term goals. Without them, your career will be like a ship set adrift without a compass; you cannot see the shore and you are unsure as to which direction to set sail in.

© 2009 Usha Krishnan Sliva
Freelance writer Usha Krishnan Sliva has years of article and copywriting experience. To get more free tips and writing ideas, subscribe to her ezine-Getting It Write, today.


sarah said...

do you have thoughts on the ups and downs of self publishing?

Usha Krishnan Sliva said...

Hi Sarah,

I haven't given it a go myself, but I would assume there are both pros and cons to doing it as with any other independent venture. Have you checked out this article on self-publishing?

If you are looking for someone to help you with it, I came across this a few weeks ago http://www.spirepublishing.com/ Not sure how good or bad they are, but they may be able to answer questions you have.

Good luck!

Bruno LoGreco said...

Those are excellent points! Look forward to reading more about you.

Kimmy said...


I started my blog/website with the intention of being able to promote and possibly make writing my career. However, after seeing everyone out there using the same google ads, and same affiliate programs, I decided to 'not quit my day job'

It was 10 years ago that I started "blogging" on my yahoo geocities website, updating daily. Then eventually I moved to Yahoo Groups, because I needed an archive.

Who would have thought that I have been blogging for a decade.

I wish I would have coined it then!

Oh WELL.. away to blog with the rest!

Usha Krishnan Sliva said...

I haven't made much money via blogs, though of course persistent bloggers like John Chow are millionaires thanks to blogging. But as a writer, you can earn a decent income if you build the correct platform for yourself and stick to an organized method of marketing your skills.