[Thanks go to Herbert for today’s guest post]
Freelancing offers flexibility, versatility, and unrestricted earnings potential without necessarily having to get tied to a certain client. Many successful entrepreneurs such as Brian Wong, Sahil Lavingia, and Chris Pearson, started off as freelancers.
Freelance writing functions in the same way. If you’re thinking of making a fortune in this industry, here are some early debacles that you should be able to overcome:
Your unparalleled writing prowess may go for naught if you don’t have any relevant projects to work on. Newbie freelance writers are definitely hungry, but untested. How do you get clients then when you don’t have a single review or published piece?
The typical scenario is to sign up on one of the innumerable freelance writing platforms online (e.g. Upwork, Freelancer, etc.) and start bidding. These sites, however, are too crowded with both prominent writers and ones who are willing to work for $0.01/word or less. A substantial portion of your time will surely be devoted to bidding, too. Hours spent on bidding prices and crafting proposals, sadly, aren’t reflected in your pay.
Bamidele Onibalusi, a writer and blogger, found a goldmine on three alternative freelance writing platforms: Problogger Job Board, Warrior Forum Warriors for Hire Board, and Flippa.
But how do you get clients outside these platforms to escape their hefty project fees?
- Team up with other freelancers. For sure, graphic designers, who accept whole projects, will need content writers to spice up their craft, and vice versa. Working in teams gives you the opportunity to recommend and be recommended.
- Write for a cause. Agreeing to be a guest contributor on a particular site without asking anything in return is a good move to showcase your skills. Also, engaging in intelligent discussions in writing forums may just be enough to get the spotlight and presence you need.
- Update your profiles. At times, all you need is to have your online profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) tell people that you’re into freelance writing. Attaching certifications and seminars attended will surely bring in more inquiries.
- Create a working portfolio. This constitutes pieces on which you’ve been featured in such as university gazettes or local newspapers.
Choosing the freelance writing life equates to being saddled within the four corners of your house. Though it gives more flexible working hours, it’s pretty hard to partition work from your personal life.
How to resolve:
To strike a balance between work and life, plan objectively. How many projects can you turn in per day without compromising quality? And how many hours do you believe your family and home needs from you? Deduct the total from 24 hours and the difference is the residual time you can devote for personal leisure/pampering.
Doing almost all of your work at home may be excruciating to a freelance writer’s productivity. It’s imperative to hit the reset button by considering these alternative writing places:
- House of a colleague – Having discussions with someone who’s just as witty as you may help unravel new ideas and perspectives to go about your project. A drawback, surely, is the possibility of finishing nothing but chitchats.
- Local parks – Your imagination and creativity surely take a notch higher by getting stimulating sunlight and seeing nature’s beauty. Pair it with a back and forth stroll for best effects.
- Coffee shops – Nothing warms the heart more than taking a sip of your favorite brewed coffee while indulging in a cosy environment.
Late Client Payments (or none at all)
There’s no freelance writer who hasn’t had any issues when it comes to irritating clients that, by chance or intentionally, have their payments delayed. This dilemma can be very exasperating especially when you furnished an above par work on time. It’s as if PayPal’s processing would take up to hours to complete.
How to resolve:
- Discuss honestly with the client how such delayed payments impact the financial growth of your business and your personal one.
- Provision an early payment discount (if possible) or freebies (e.g. free revision, PowerPoint presentation, etc.), and set up a late payment fee.
Meanwhile, ‘online wolves,’ as I term it, are rampant across freelance writing sites. This guy flatters you with all the compliments possible, and then leaves no trace after you turn in the deliverables. Needless to say, late payments are way better than not getting any at all.
How to resolve:
Make sure that you’re utilizing the freelancing site’s payment system protection. For instance, Freelancer’s Milestone Payment System ensures that freelance writers get paid after every project achievement.
To put it into simple terms, the freelancing site serves as an escrow so you can be guaranteed of payment. However, that guarantee comes with a lofty project fee. Securing a contract within a freelancing site’s boundaries or consent independently? Your choice.
Scan your clients thoroughly. How many stars does he have in his review section? Is he a legitimate authority? Never contract with folks who aren’t even ‘Payment Verified.’
Abundance vs. Stagnancy
Like most small and specialty businesses, freelance writing has its peaks and valleys. A common newbie mistake is to not apportion sufficient cash for a contingency fund when they are earning very well. You’ll be amazed at how long $200 can last when you’re scraping the bottom.
To avoid absolute dependence on volatile writing jobs, it’s essentially important to have passive income streams such as the following:
- Blogging income – Building a reputable blog takes a considerable amount of time, but once Google’s AdSense crawler confirmed the relevance of your content and its SEO power (e.g. healthy click through & conversion rates, decent keyword ranking, etc.), you’ll surely cash in every month.
- Referral power – Be mindful of the needs of your client, past, and present. Aside from freelance writing which you already rendered, they may also be on the lookout for other service providers like graphic designers and SEO specialists. Making follow-up emails on past clients and asking present ones for probable additional services are ways to go. It’s time to claim that 10-15% project referral fee from your comrade after that.
- Feeding on cheap, yet decent freelance writers – You’re on the buying end this time or let’s just say an intermediary with a twist. Pass on projects to qualified writers who accept a below average rate. The agreed price must be something within your desired profit margin.
After receiving the submission (and paying your invoice), make necessary tweaks as to conform to your style of writing or to the project’s requirement.
Remember that you don’t get paid unless you turn in something. Value your time and working schedules.
Herbert is a creative writer at GreatPaper. He values the importance of family towards his craft and travels to give his writing a fresher perspective. He is fond of hiking, biking, and engaging in extreme sports.