Imagine your ideal freelance writing income.
How much do you want to make?
Maybe it’s $5K a month.
Maybe it’s $10K per month.
Or maybe, you just want to make enough to get by.
But you feel stuck.
It’s not that you’re a bad writer — you know you’ve got that part covered.
But something else is getting in the way of you reaching your income goals, and you’re not quite sure what that thing is.
I understand. I’ve made tons of mistakes in my career, and I know how tough it is starting out — especially when you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.
The good news?
You’re here, which means you’re taking action to improve your freelance writing career.
So give yourself some credit, then keep reading.
Because today, I’m going to talk about 6 serious mistakes you’re making that are costing you freelance writing clients. Then, I’ll give you some advice so you can land more (and better!) work.
Ready to start learning?
Cool. Let’s start with one of the biggest mistakes I see freelance writers make.
1. Failing to pick a niche
Imagine that you’re a marketing manager for a dental office. You’re looking for a freelance copywriter who can write blog posts that help you drive more traffic to your site.
Which one of the following copywriters are you going to hire?
- A copywriter who writes all kinds of content
- A copywriter who specializes in writing blog posts
- A copywriter who specializes in writing blog posts about dental topics
You’re going to choose the last one because of that writer has clearly defined subject matter expertise.
And as a freelance writer, your potential clients will think the same way when they’re considering hiring you.
That’s why you can’t be afraid to define a narrow niche. You need to do it so all your potential clients will think:
Aw snap! This writer specializes in exactly what I need! Shut up and take my money, writer.
2. Ignoring LinkedIn
The best way to make the most of your LinkedIn presence?
Show, don’t tell.
Let me explain what I mean with an example.
Know how most people on LinkedIn fill their profile with fluffy adjectives (like “passionate” and “hardworking”)?
Yeah – you shouldn’t do that.
Because anyone can slap some jargon up on their profile and make claims about their approach to work. And everyone does it, so you need to use a different approach that sets you apart.
That approach involves directly addressing how your writing services solve problems for your target clients.
Because, let’s face it – clients don’t care about how “passionate” and “hardworking” you claim to be. They care about how your writing will help them increase their traffic, get more leads, or improve their business a different way.
3. Charging by the hour
I often charge $75-$100 per hour. Sometimes more than that.
But do you think I quote my potential clients an hourly rate?
Most of them would probably laugh at the thought of paying a writer that much per hour.
That’s why I usually quote a per-project fee.
The key to making per-project fees work is to calculate how long a project is going to take you to complete. Then, you can use your ideal hourly rate to figure out how much to charge total for the project.
For example, let’s say you want to make $75 per hour writing a 1500-word blog post, and you estimate that the post will take 3 hours to write. You should tell the client that the flat rate fee for the blog post is $225.
That way, you can make the amount of money you want without scaring off clients with your hourly rate!
4. Taking on projects you don’t really want or need
I get it – your freelance income can be unpredictable at times, so it’s easy to feel like you have to take on every project that comes along.
The problem with that?
You end up overwhelmed and burnt out on your work, which eventually lands you a one-way ticket to Writer’s Block City, my friend.
When you reach a comfortable income level, you should only be taking on those perfect projects that make you excited to wake up in the morning and get to work. Anything else will frustrate you and make you feel like you’re wasting your time.
Remember, you started freelancing because you wanted to do what you love. Don’t take on tons of projects you hate for a few extra bucks you don’t really need – it’s not worth the trouble.
5. Not giving a shit about deadlines
Trust me – if you can consistently hit deadlines, you’re already doing much better than many other freelancers.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m totally a Type B personality, so I understand that meeting deadlines can be tough. But here’s how I make it easier:
Use a project management system.
I use Basecamp to organize my tasks, and I LOVE it. But you can also try Trello, Asana, or even Google Calendar as a free option.
Create a task for yourself the SECOND you get an assignment.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll completely forget about something if I don’t make a note of it right away. That’s why I never put off tasking myself with something – I do it immediately after I get a new deadline.
Give yourself more time than you think you need.
If you can do something by next Wednesday but it’s going to put you in a time crunch, give yourself until Thursday or Friday instead! You never know when something could come up, and the last thing you want is to stay up working all night before something is due because you didn’t give yourself enough time.
6. Using bidding sites and content mills to find clients
You didn’t become a freelance writer to pump out crappy content for rude clients who pay one penny per word. And let’s face it — that’s pretty much all you’ll find when you sign up for content mills and bidding sites.
Now, you might be thinking:
But Jorden, I’m a newbie! How else can I ever hope to find freelance writing clients?
The answer to your question?
And I’m not just saying that – I know it’s true, because cold emailing allowed me to earn over $800 in my first month as a full-time freelance writer.
To start cold emailing, first pick a niche and create a website for yourself. Then, use LimeLeads or a similar service to start gathering your target clients’ contact information.
After that, it’s time for you to become a cold emailing machine. More specifically, you should be sending 25+ customized cold emails per day.
Is it tedious?
Is it difficult at first?
… But does it work?
Yes. It does.
So if you’re ready to level up your freelance writing income and grow a successful business, start cold emailing and stop making the mistakes I’ve mentioned here.
Don’t overthink it — just take action get started.