19 Dangerous Mistakes That Can Damage Your Freelance Writing Career

As a freelance writer or copywriter, you’re bound to make mistakes. You’re bound to make even more mistakes when you’re just starting out.

Learning from other people’s mistakes will keep you abreast and reduce the number of mistakes you make.

Top writers in history were also beginners at some point and they’ve made several mistakes.

But even with such mistakes, why are they the best today?

They learned from their mistakes and became better.

This article is intended to help you envisage dangerous pit holes and avoid them as a freelance writer looking to grow big in this business and become one of the most recognized writers in the world.

The list will go a long way in fast tracking your growth in this business.


1. Not improving your skills

As a beginner, you learn the art of writing and getting clients. You might even take several online classes — like I did — to boost your career.

But what happens when you start getting clients? Most of the times, the answer is that you’re always working on one project or the other. You become too busy to improve your skills. This isn’t good for your business.


2. Working for too long hours

You might have left your day job because you want to have enough time for yourself and do what you love.

The fact is sometimes when you start doing what you love, you get too carried away that you tend to work far longer hours than you expected or are supposed to. The result is that you burn out and might even become unproductive. Take some time off, relax and get refreshed.


3. Not collecting upfront payment

Of course, you expect to get paid for working so hard to get a client’s assignment done. I can imagine how it feels when you finish a client’s work and all you get is stories and excuses.

Always ask for at least 50 percent upfront – to make sure you don’t work for free. You’ve got bills to pay! However, you might overlook this for regular clients that prove to be trustworthy.


4. Not having a niche

This is a common mistake among new freelance writers. When you’re starting out, you might have a problem choosing your niche. My advice is that you choose a niche that you love. Choose a niche that has career prospect.

Most times, clients don’t want generalists; they look for specialists in a particular niche that can get the job done perfectly. As a generalist, you’re at a disadvantage.


5. Not investing in your business

Your first payments should not be used for all those lavishing stuff. I understand you have a dream to live big. But the time isn’t ripe for all that. Use your first payments to reinvest in your writing business.

Crave to appear more professional and expand your business. You’ll feel more confident to increase your rates and live the kind of life you’ve always dreamed of.


6. Not meeting deadlines

If you don’t meet your clients’ deadlines, your writing career is on the verge of being dead. When you struck a contract, make sure you’re able to meet up with the client’s deadline. If the time is too small, ask for an extension.

If possible, set another deadline for yourself to finish the job, at least, a day before the agreed time and don’t procrastinate. Just because you feel you can finish a client’s assignment before the deadline shouldn’t be a yardstick to delay it.

Some unforeseen circumstance might come up. Giving too many excuses can damage your freelancing career.


7. Not having a personal project

Apart from writing for clients, do you have other projects like working on your personal blog? Well, in order not to become a victim of circumstance, you should have a personal project you work on. This is what really makes you your own boss.

I personally have a special blog I work on when I’m not copywriting for clients. And in future, I plan to monetize this particular writer website.


8. Taking too many assignments

When you take too many assignments and want to do all by yourself, in some way, you’re enslaving yourself. Take only the number of work you can do and still have time for yourself.

However, if you want to take many assignments, you should think of outsourcing some of the work to create space for other activities.


9. Writing for content mill

This is one place most new writers think they most pass through to make a living. I didn’t pass through the content mill to get here and I tell you that you can avoid it, too. Although I set up an account in about three of those sites, I was fortunate to learn a better way out.

If you don’t know what content mill is, I’m talking about any site that you get clients that want to pay as low as $1 for 1500 words.

If you’re looking to make a real income you should avoid such places. Taking up such gigs will only consume your time and disable you from searching for better-paying gigs.


10. Not marketing yourself

As a new freelance writer, you might not understand how to market yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re new or old; you need to market yourself to get clients. The level of marketing might differ, though.

Instead of competing with thousands of writers fighting for clients on craigslist or job boards, why not try cold calls. As a copywriter, what I do is to compile a long list of companies in my niche and send them emails one after the other.

True! Most of them might not reply, but the few ones that do are worth the effort.


11. Not having a writer website

There is no going without saying you need a writer website. If you really mean business, you need to have a website where you refer clients to know more about you, your samples and services you offer.

And it is not just enough to create a website and leave it dormant for a very long time; you should update your site as you gain more experience.


12. Lacking confidence

You might think because you’re new you shouldn’t reach out to big companies. No! You should. No one has to know you’re new. Don’t talk about things you don’t have; flaunt the good ones you have.

Remember, when reaching out to companies, you’re interacting with individuals like you. If you have a tech background for example, that gives you an upper hand in the tech niche.

Even if you don’t have the background or samples, you can do few writings for free to have some samples and testimonials. This perhaps will help boost your confidence.


13. Not asking questions

Questions are part of your job as a freelance writer. You need to know what your client wants. Don’t be shy or feel asking questions will portray you to be a wannabe before your client.

Even professional writers and copywriters ask questions. And when your questions are answered, follow the given instructions.


14. Relying on only one project

Just because you got a continuous project doesn’t mean you shouldn’t search for other clients. If for example, you get a project to publish two posts weekly. You rely solely on this project for some time.

What happens when the client suddenly decides to end the contract without notice? You become devastated, broke and start looking for another project, right? It shouldn’t be like that.


15. Not correcting mistakes

Some clients might forgive you for the first mistake. But making same mistakes over and over again? You’re killing your career.

Once you notice a mistake you’ve made, do everything possible to correct it and never repeat it again. This makes you a professional.


16. Taking your business as a hobby

Except you’re doing it for some extra bucks, your freelance writing business is a real business. Just like others go to work by 8 and return by 5, you’ve also got a job you’re doing.

Don’t let people around you bring you down with tedious requests because you’re always home. Remember you’ve got bills to pay and no one will pay your bills for you. You just have to be serious about it.


17. Not knowing your worth

You should know your worth as a freelance writer. You shouldn’t belittle yourself because you’re a beginner.

Do not underestimate your abilities. Your clients should know you provide value and be ready to pay for what you’re worth.


18. Not doing proper Math

The fact that you earn $10 per hour which is probably more than what you used to earn as an employee doesn’t mean you’re already doing well.

As an employee, you get some bills paid by your employer; 50 percent tax for example. But as a freelance writer you’ve got to pay all your bills yourself.


19. Not dreaming big

Dream very big that you’re even embarrassed to say it out. Dream big but start small. It might take a while to achieve your dreams but with patience and persistence, you’d get there or close.

As a freelance writer, if you don’t dream big, you might get less motivated after achieving your small dreams.


No matter how many articles you read, no matter how hard you prepare, you’ll always make mistakes. You’re human and can’t avoid that. Remember that no one is perfect.

But learning from these mistakes will surely lessen your pitfalls and will fast track your journey to the promise land.

Author's Bio
Fouad Atitebi is a specialized ecommerce copywriter that helps small and big ecommerce store owners increase sales with persuasive words.

3 thoughts on “19 Dangerous Mistakes That Can Damage Your Freelance Writing Career

  • Enchanting post Fouad.
    I’m new in Freelancing and your tips will definitely help will definitely come I’m handy on my business.
    These are some of the overlooked things by writers as they believe that being an experienced or “good writer” will suffice in bringing you some clients.

    For me, focusing on a specific niche seems like a great idea although it feels like I’ll be limiting myself whereas I can spread my net and get more fish.

    Keep on writing.

    • Hi, Linda.

      I’m glad you find the post is helpful.

      I agree with you. But the problem with being a generalist is, you’d spend lots of time doing research on each assignment of a different niche.

      As a specialist, you’re an expert in your niche and will require less time for research. You’d have enough time to market yourself and get other assignments.

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