Freelance Writing Jobs: 7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid

Are you a newbie writer who is searching for freelance writing jobs? Are you having trouble landing the clients you want? I’ve been there.

I began freelance writing almost ten years ago, and as a self-starter I did not fully know what I was getting into. Thankfully, I learned many lessons along the way, and I discovered that the mistakes I made were common among beginners. So, I want to share those experiences with you!

Without further ado, here are 7 common mistakes beginners make when searching for freelance writing jobs:

#1 Your pitch is ineffective.

Creating the perfect pitch is an artform, and not an easy one to master. My pitches were terrible. They lacked focus, did not connect with the client, and highlighted my shortcomings. It was no wonder that I had trouble finding freelance writing jobs. Now, I follow these steps when creating the perfect pitch:

  • Connect with your client: Take some time to know your client. How do you offer the unique expertise they are looking for? Mention their need in the opening of your pitch and the solution that you offer.
  • Keep it brief: Your client is busy, and they probably have dozens or even hundreds of pitches to sort through. Respect their time by offering a clear and concise pitch that is power packed with the most useful information.
  • Sell yourself: If you are like me, then you might be a lot better at selling others than selling yourself. You will get used to it. Find your strengths and stand by them. You might have more to offer than you think.

#2 You forget to follow up.

This one is simple, but effective. Since many clients receive dozens to hundreds of pitches, even the most talented people can slip through the cracks. Help avoid this by following up with your prospect client, reminding them that you contacted them about the job posting and you would like to connect.

You can also let them know that you are interested in all freelance writing jobs with their organization, so even if you are not the best fit for the posting you applied for, they might consider you for a different role.

#3 You underestimate your worth.

This is one of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started looking for freelance writing jobs. I had no experience, so I was willing to take any job that came along, even if the pay was terrible. My first job paid only $5 per 500 words. Yikes! Once I gained some confidence, I stopped working for scraps.

Now, I try to avoid charging too little or too much. I know that I have something worth while to offer, but I am also limited in my expertise and I want to remain competitive. I have researched the pricing of other freelancers, and I think I have found the right balance.

#4 Your focus is too broad.

When I first began looking for freelance writing jobs, I had no idea what type of writing I wanted to do. So, my profile carried no weight and my pitches were terrible. After doing some research and landing a few of those low-paying gigs, I found my niche as an SEO website content writer and copywriter. I could narrow that focus even more to just one industry, but for now I like gaining experience in a variety of fields.

#5 You do not ask the right questions.

Once you land an interview, make sure that you ask the right questions. You want to know what you are getting into beforehand so that you and your client receive the best experience possible. You also want to give off a good impression, and the right questions will help build that repertoire. For example, you could ask:

  • What is your desired word count per piece of content?
  • How many pieces of content do you need?
  • What is your timeline and budget?
  • Do you have examples of the content you are looking for?

#6 You do not have multiple freelance writing jobs.

As a work-from-home mom with young kids, I could not manage a full-time job, but I wanted regular work. At one point, I invested all my time and energy into a single client. They offered flexible hours, so I could work as much as I wanted each week. They were reliable and I enjoyed the work, so I did not take any other clients.

Here was the problem.

When COVID-19 hit, that client cutback—and all freelancers were the first to go. Suddenly, I was high and dry without a single paying client. Not smart, but lesson learned.

Now, I will take smaller freelance writing jobs and more of them, so that this does not happen again, and I advise other freelancers to do the same.

#7 The bar is too high.

If you plan to do like I did and transition from your regular full-time job into freelance writing, then make sure that you set reasonable expectations.

Some people find freelance writing jobs easily and their careers take off almost instantly.

Others, like myself, had to build up their clientele overtime.

Only you know your limitations but be careful not to set that bar too high. If you do, you could end up disappointed, or worse yet, without a steady stream of income.

Maybe you start off by taking a client or two as a side gig while you keep your old job, just to see how it goes. Do what works for you.

One last piece of advice…

Dust off and keep going.

As with any new venture, there are going to be mistakes made and lessons learned when you begin looking for freelance writing jobs. If I had given up after making some of the mistakes listed here, I would not be where I am today. When things get hard, get back up, brush off, consider what you can do better, and keep going. Most businesses and independent contractors that fail do so because they quit too soon.

Finding enough freelance writing jobs isn’t the only problem WFH parents face. If you are a work-from-home mom that struggles to manage it all, learn how I keep it together by creating the ideal WFH schedule!