"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, October 3, 2011

Anne Wayman on the 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make...

You’ve sold a book, or several articles, or you’ve worked inside publishing someplace and you long to declare yourself a freelance writer and go home and write. Or maybe you’ve already made the leap. Either way, here are the five biggest mistakes writers make when they transition to freelancing – avoid these and you increase your chances of success immeasurably.

1. Not treating your writing as a business.
The idea of freelancing may seem romantic, but the truth is you must treat your freelance writing like a business if you are to succeed. This means setting goals, tracking income and expenses, paying self-employment taxes and all the other things that go into making a business work. This isn’t glamorous but it’s necessary. And once you get the business side organized it’s not too onerous.

2. Not determining how much to charge.
Determining how much money you need to charge is imperative. If you don’t you won’t know how to answer the question, “how much do you charge?” The place to start is with your monthly expenses. Then add about a third and work that out to an hourly rate based on how many hours you can realistically expect to write five days a week. I can manage about four hours of real writing every day. The rest of my time is prep, marketing and the business stuff. It will take awhile to really know how much time writing jobs will actually take you, but knowing your hourly rate will help you not under charge. And yes, you’ll make mistakes – which is okay. Just learn from them.

3. Not insisting on a written agreement.
I can’t count the number of writers who have contacted me with what they call problem clients and it turns out there’s no contract or written agreement. It’s not the client that’s the problem; it’s the lack of a clear, written understanding between you and your client that causes most of the grief. Contracts (which can be simple but clear emails) need to describe the work, describe the deadlines, explain the method of payment and say what to do when there’s a problem. You don’t need a lawyer, just a clear agreement.

4. Not implementing a marketing plan.
Yes, you need to market your writing. The plan can be simple – like three queries a week, or five cold calls a day, or two blog posts on the blog that markets you, or developing your own website or ordering and using business cards. There are at least a gazillion things you can do to market yourself and your writing. Get one small one done a day and you’re sure to be a success.

5. Not respecting your time.
Folks, all of us have the same 24 hours in every day – if you don’t respect, even cherish, your time no one else will. Train yourself and your family and friends to honor your writing time. Don’t answer the door, turn off the phone – do what you have to so you can write and conduct your freelance writing business. One of my most successful writing friends hired a nanny just so she can write every day. Do what it takes and you’ll see positive results.
On the other hand, if you work out how to avoid each of these problem areas you’re likely to wake up one morning and realize you truly are a successful freelance writer.
What else would you add to this list?

Anne Wayman is a writing coach, ghostwriter and blogger who has been writing longer than she now cares to admit. AboutFreelanceWriting is where she blogs about writing. She blogs about 12 Step recovery at PowerfullyRecovered.com, about money at DollarsandDebt.com and life at WhenGrandmotherSpeaks.com

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  1. Thanks so much for the opportunity to do an article for you Jennifer... I really liked the one you wrote for me - 7 Ways to Blog Like a God (and Create a Cult Following!) - http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2011/09/7-ways-to-blog-like-a-god-and-create-a-cult-following/

  2. Anne,

    The pleasure is mine! I greatly appreciate your time and your words of wisdom. I'm sure that writers will benefit from what has been shared.


  3. It's wonderful to meet Anne! Thanks, Jennifer, for the intro. This is timely; I am working on a price for a client as we speak. Also need to implement a better marketing plan, so I appreciate this advice.

    Have a great week!

  4. Good luck, Karen. Thanks for weighing in here.

  5. Thank you for sharing this information with us. Should I happen to get inquiries about writing grant proposals or any other type of writing, I will refer to this entry.

  6. Food for thought. Now the idea for me is to do more than just chew on it!

  7. Remarkable post Anne. Five fundamental points that every writer should follow.
    Thanks for sharing Jen.

  8. quiet spirit,

    Good to hear from you. Here's hoping you'll get many grant writing opps coming your way.

    Be well.

  9. Thanks for adding to the mix "Anonymous".

  10. Andrea,
    Good stuff-right? I appreciate your input. Thanks!

  11. It seems that a number of publications offer the choice to send either a query or the complete article. Do you recommend one or the other?

  12. Good question, Rebecca. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both. But, I think your question is for Anne, so I'll hand the "mike" to her. :-)

  13. Anne, it's great to see you here, and thanks for those tips. I really need to dust off my freelance writing plan and work it. Thanks so much for these.

  14. Great input for this wannabe writer. Just need to find a way to set the time factor as a priority, get a little out there, and then look at the other stuff. Time to research where to connect is also a key factor for us newbies.

  15. We appreciate your thoughts here, Marcie.

  16. Reflections,

    Nice to get your feedback on this--long
    time. :-) Sounds like you've got a game plan in mind. All you need now is the execution. Good luck!

  17. Wow! Look at all these comments. Thank you all. Let me answer some questions.

    Rebbeca - if you're a new writer I'd suggest sending the complete article - it's called 'on spec' because there's no guarantee they'll buy it. If you're already published, even a little bit, queries are great.

    Reflections - making time for writing is a must IF you want it, but you know that.

    I'll come back to see if there are more questions, and until then nice to meet such a nice group of readers.

  18. Just found this blog. Great articles and great tips for writers!

  19. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  20. Hi, Emma...Welcome! Good to have you here. Thanks for your comment. Hope you'll join us in the future. :-)

  21. rental mobil,

    Glad you liked! Greatly appreciate your visit and input.

  22. Anne,

    Great, useful tips, especially the one about the written agreement. It can be tempting to agree to a "hand-shake" deal, but the written deal is the smarter and safer bet each and every time.

    Thank you for your guidance!