If You’re A Freelance Writer, Here’s What You Should Stop Doing!

I started Freelance Writing a year and a half ago… by accident, to help out a friend whose content marketer backed out at the last moment. I worked that weekend, got paid and went on my way.

Before long, I got another call – this friend recommended me to someone else. It was a big brand and a small project. From there, it snowballed. I dabbled in fashion, travel, parenting, law and food writing and enjoyed it – and then I started my own blog.

After a while, I found myself submitting multiple projects and articles every day, 7 days a week. It was mentally exhausting and I would often start my laptop even before brushing my teeth in the morning. I charged reasonably and delivered quality.

Since it was a somewhat of a hobby, it didn’t hurt when people found someone cheaper and went away. There were plenty of fish in the sea. But when I look around, I see so many freelancers selling themselves short and for some of them, it’s their only source of income.

I’ve taken what I’ve learnt over time, from my own and others’ experiences and spilled them into this post. If you’re a Freelance Writer, this is what you definitely SHOULD NOT do.

Never quote a price without knowing the details – Every project differs in the time you need to put into writing and researching on it, even if the word limit required is the same. It’s easy to write about ‘How to get more Instagram followers.’ But if you need to explain ‘Tips for trading online,’ you’re going to need to understand the subject first (considering you will write without copy-pasting), so factor in the costs for your time and charge accordingly.

Not working regular hours – If freelancing is your primary source of income, you need to treat it like one. Set regular hours and stick to them. Use the time to look for new projects and work on existing ones. Dedicated work time disciplines your mind and body to work – and no, playing Angry Birds does not count. Remember to have a work-life balance to keep your sanity intact. This is something I could not do for a long time, simply because I could not say ‘No.’ So I took on project after project and basically had no life. (That’s when I increased my prices!)

Don’t let competitors determine your prices – Because let’s face it, the industry sucks! Everyone undercuts everyone else, and the ultimate quote is unfathomably low. Stick to your standards unless your client is willing to settle for a lower quality piece.

Think about it

If you charge Rs. 5000 for 1000 words and you lower your price to Rs. 2500, you’re going to have to work double the time to make the money you need. Ultimately, you’ll run out of time and after writing 2000 words, find yourself with money that doesn’t justify your day’s work. Don’t do that. Period.

Not knowing what to charge – When breaking into the freelance world, many people think it’s a good idea to start working at a lower price range for experience and to have a few good brands on your portfolio. However, it shouldn’t go on for long, and sooner or later you should figure out what you’re worth. If you peg yourself in the low-rate category for long, you’ll find yourself stuck there with clients who pay you too less for what you deliver. The best way out of this scenario is to price yourself according to your skill and only work with those who value this skill and creativity. Build a reputation and then raise your prices.

Not asking questions – You’ve landed your first project! Now you’re scared that the client will see how “inexperienced” you are and take the business elsewhere. So to cover it up, you put on a confident face and don’t ask questions. Bad idea. Professionals ask questions. What if you hired a graphic designer for a logo and he didn’t ask you anything? Instead he did what he thought you would like? To give your best and minimize rework, ask questions! It shows that you know your craft and want info to write in a way that represents them better.

Spending too much time on a project – This one is for the new writers. You want to do a good job and hopefully, gain a happy, long-term client. But if they are paying you Rs. 1000 and you put in Rs. 5000 worth of time and effort, you’re losing money! This can be a tricky situation to get out of. Remember to factor in time for rewrites and edits and put in only as much work as the project is worth.

Looking for work on Facebook – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a random person in a group for freelancers posting a (badly written) requirement for freelance writers. It is usually followed by 468134687 responses. This person, with a limited access profile and no DP will proceed to give you some work and disappear once you submit it.

Firstly, Facebook should be your LAST resource for project hunting (personal references being the first!) Yes, there are genuine people on Facebook and to find them, look for posts from people who have a proper name, DP, website listed and have been active on the site for years. Go to his company’s website, look for the company’s social media pages, look up the guy on LinkedIn and if you’re satisfied, THEN contact him. You need to take some effort, but at least you won’t be left hanging once the job is done.

Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket – Never rely on one or two clients for all your income. Like financial investments, diversify so that you have multiple income streams. Falling into a false sense of security is dangerous, and also, you’ll stop challenging yourself.

Don’t Overbook – Many freelancers take on project after project and are then unable to complete them. What follows? You guessed it! Excuses!

You can’t just expect to complete your work by typing faster. Writing is hard work and it takes time to deliver quality. Stick to 2-3 pieces a day so you don’t frustrate yourself and your clients.

Taking word-of-mouth promises when it comes to payments – It’s always a good thing to work with bigger, well known companies. There are hundreds of start-ups opening every single day, and not only will they squeeze you dry with their shoe-string budgets, but they’re the most likely to disappear in a week. No matter who you work with, ensure your payment terms and commercials are put down on email and acknowledged by the client on email. Always insist on a 50% advance if you have the slightest gut feeling that the company will default.

There’s so much I can write about on this topic, but these are the most important things to keep in mind. Comment below and let me know about your experiences and tips, if you have any!

Don’t forget to subscribe to That Goan Girl! My next post will be a GIVEAWAY and ONLY subscribers are eligible!! Can’t wait!!

Toodles!

xoxo

28 Comments

  1. Jeff
    May 13, 2016 / 1:40 pm

    It was a good read Jade. I decided within first 3 projects that I will write only for myself 🙂 Maybe someday I will make this a source of income…

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      May 13, 2016 / 2:06 pm

      Why someday? Start small – one a week, maybe!

  2. TANYA GHAI
    May 13, 2016 / 2:04 pm

    Great post! Although I’ve been writing for years, it’s only recently that I started taking freelance projects. How I wish I had read this before taking on my first (underpaid) freelance project. Thanks. Will be back to read to more soon…

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      May 13, 2016 / 2:06 pm

      Hey Tanya! We’ve all been there 🙂 Better late than never, right?
      Hope to see you back again!

  3. RACCHNA
    May 14, 2016 / 2:04 pm

    Excellent tips Jade! Hi! I am Racchna. Presently working as a VA in education content development and keen to venture into freelancing in content writing for blogs. Have done lot of book reviews in the past and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

    Would love to stay in touch.

    Regards,

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      May 14, 2016 / 5:14 pm

      Hi Racchna! Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Hope to see you around here more often

  4. May 14, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Great work Jade! We’ve worked together for a year, but this is probably the first time I peeped into your blog. I would say, each piece is so interesting that the person would get glued until the last read.

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      May 14, 2016 / 5:47 pm

      Thanks so much, Aditi!

  5. May 15, 2016 / 3:48 pm

    What a comprehensive guide to all the freelancers around. I could relate to every single statement .. Indeed a much needed post.

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      May 15, 2016 / 3:48 pm

      🙂 Happy to hear you could relate, Shilpa!

  6. May 18, 2016 / 11:50 am

    How does one start, i.e. get their first paid assignment? Are there websites you can check and submit your proposal?

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      May 18, 2016 / 12:49 pm

      There are websites, but they’re U.S. based ones and you need a PayPal account. You could check out TaskMitra. Even Twitter is a good source. Search for #freelance #writer and tweet back if the person actually works in the organization or can connect you to someone who does.

  7. May 19, 2016 / 7:57 am

    Very nice and informative post , I want to do some freelance work but since I am new to this blogging world I do not have much idea and connections . Can you please guide and tell some reliable sites where I can get freelance work .
    Thanks

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      May 22, 2016 / 8:17 am

      Omg thank you!!

  8. May 21, 2016 / 3:04 pm

    The timing of this post couldn’t have been better! I have a blog since many years but considered freelance writing only a few months back. Yes, I started doing work for cheap and realised I was being taken for a ride. That’s when I begged out.

    Your tips are very useful for me. I’m subscribing to your blog. Giveaway for me, please?

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      May 22, 2016 / 4:51 pm

      Hey Varsh! Thanks for stopping by! You juuuuust missed the Giveaway, sorry! Next time 🙂

  9. May 22, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    Came across your tips through blogadda’s Tweet… Great list… Since few months, I have searching high and low on how to get freelancing project and what to start charging. Can you list those as well possibly in your new post! Thanks 🙂

  10. June 28, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    Wow. 🙂 Just came across your blog on Twitter and guess what perfect timing, read just before I decide to start freelancing. This was really enlightening read for a beginner like me.

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      June 28, 2016 / 12:17 pm

      Glad I could help, Diksha!

  11. MARLON OLIVEIRA
    September 12, 2016 / 5:15 pm

    Awesome!! As usual. Nice one Jady

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      September 12, 2016 / 6:21 pm

      Thanks Marley!

  12. August 11, 2018 / 10:58 am

    A really well thought-out and written post, Jade. It summarizes most of the major aspects that any newbie freelancer would like to know. Thank you for ironing out a lot of doubts in my head.

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 4:18 am

      So happy to hear that, Gauri!

  13. August 24, 2018 / 10:00 am

    Excellent tips Jade!! Few things which I have learned too 🙂 thank you! love and shine☘️

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 5:19 pm

      Glad I could help, Shweta!

  14. December 2, 2018 / 11:17 am

    This is such a good post and I needed this reflection! Going to read your other posts in the Digital Nomad category now!

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      December 2, 2018 / 4:14 pm

      Made my day! Thanks Nishma!
      Hope it added a lot of value.

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