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Seven Tips for Freelance Writers Who are Just Starting Out

Updated on October 16, 2011

Don't Waste too Much Time on Bidding Sites

While it appears to be very tempting to use a freelance bidding site, it is very time consuming and oftentimes reaps little to no benefit. For instance, you may place bids on nine jobs, spend an hour doing so and never get a gig. Additionally, many jobs on these websites pay peanuts. Don't forget, you are competing against people from other counties who are more than thrilled to work for $1, $2 or $3 an hour. Although you might not make in the double digitals per hour at first, if you take extremely lowing paying gigs, you will never ever want to stay in the industry. I made the mistake of relying on a bidding site for a few days worth of work. I was sadly disappointed when the person advertising the job lead me on, by telling me how much he loved my work I did for a health magazine. Days worth of emails let me know I was his top candidate. He sprung it on me last minute that my price was way too high for his price range. When I spoke up and informed him I could lower my prices a little bit, he ever-so rudely informed me that he’ll downgrade his quality standards before he will ever pay as much as I wanted. Needless to say, he downgraded his standards to a person who worked for $2 an hour and didn’t speak English as a first language.

Know How Much your Worth

As briefly mentioned above, you will have to take some lower paying gigs prior to making the real money, but do not go too low. While you do have to start somewhere, 500 words for $1 is absurd, and a truly a huge waste of your time. You should never sell your writing for under .005 per word. Personally, I would never write for under .01 a word, but sometimes that rule can be broken when you are an expert in a field and you can write with little to no research. Once again, writing for little money will make you miserable and you will never have a enough to pay your bills.

Don't Listen to the Bad Reputation of Content Mills

Many bloggers, writers and journalist criticize and turn their noses down to those writers who work at content mills. Truly, you are not a bad writer if you work for these places--maybe a little inexperienced or scared to move to bigger or better things--but definitely not a bad writer. Often denoted as "content farms," these writing websites provide newbies with experience and a portfolio. Truthfully, you might even make good money with them. In fact, I know work at home parents making over $60,000 a year just doing content mill work. This result is not typical, but it definitely is possible.

Don't Be Disappointed if your Book Doesn't Sell

You might have it in your mind if you publish a book, you'll make 10s of thousands of dollars quickly. The writing industry is not a get rich quick scheme. It is; however, an industry to show off your creativity, flare or talent. So if you publish a book, don't expect it will make it to the best sellers list tomorrow. It may take years for it to be prosperous, but don't let this discourage you from writing the novel you always dreamed of publishing one day. Your first experience with publication shouldn't depict your entire writing career, so don't hesitate to publish a second or third book, if the first one is unsuccessful.

Create a Blog or Website

A blog or a website generates income via advertising placed on it, and builds a professional portfolio for prospective clients to view. Basically, these money-makers are a way to display your talent, write content that might not be in your niche, let your readers know who your are as a writer and as a person, and can be used as a link to previously published work. I personally only have a few blogs out there under my own name--none of which are connected to one another; however, any one in the business will tell you how you how important creating both website and a blog or either one can be to your career.

Rejection and Discouraging Words

There is a guarantee a publisher, magazine editor, copy editor or prospective client rejects you at some point in time. Once again, rejection classifies as a probability not a possibility. I have had my share of rejection, and I write as my full-time income. You are not a match for all clients or content producing websites. Don't feel bad, it truly, truly happens to the best of us. I've been told I wasn't engaging enough, my writing was too academia for the general public to want to read, and I'm a good writer, but I lack excitement and personal style. Still, I'm not quite sure how medical writing lacks excitement and personal style, but it can or at least I was informed it can. Maybe next time when I apply for that company, I will write about the joys of having diabetes, so disease has a positively, thrilling connotation. Anyways, your articles, your books, your application and anything else you write has a chance to receive rejection. In fact, more than once in your writing career someone will inevitably tell you they don't like your writing or your style. Don't take it to heart because not every writer matches the persona wanted for every writing opportunity, no matter how amazing your writing may be.

Relying on One Writing Gig

Don't, and I repeat DON'T rely on one content mill or client for your sole source of income. Freelance writing has many perks, but stability definitely doesn’t count as one. If you only write for one content mill, there might come a time you can't find anything you want to write about or the content mill decides to downsize or go out of business. The same happens with private clients. The man you write 20 weekly articles for may not have work one week for you or his needs might change. Spread your eggs out and place an egg in a few different baskets, so you always provide you and/or your family with food on the table.


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    • peramore20 profile image

      peramore20 6 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      jenniferrpovey, its always good to refresh our minds with information regarding our value and how difficult thsi field can be. If not, we will take every rejection to heart and may potentially work for way less than we are worth.

    • peramore20 profile image

      peramore20 6 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      Thank you netlexis. I agree with you. Its fine to have a few steady gigs as your main "eggs," but you absolutely must have backups.

    • peramore20 profile image

      peramore20 6 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      I agree MsBizPro. If not, you will never enjoy this field if you cannot make enough money. It also hurts other writers because people think they can get away with paying every writer nothing if a few accept it.

    • peramore20 profile image

      peramore20 6 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      Thank you pinkytoky.

    • peramore20 profile image

      peramore20 6 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      Thank dmcgaw. You make some very valid points, especially when you state not to think too hard for .01 a word. Its very true. I started out make .01 at a lot of places, so I stuck to only writing part time for the longest time.

    • peramore20 profile image

      peramore20 6 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      Thank you Megan

    • jenniferrpovey profile image

      jenniferrpovey 6 years ago

      This is a useful reminder...I know most of it. And dmcGaw has a good point too.

    • netlexis profile image

      Katherine Koch 6 years ago from Southern California

      Lots of good info here. My biggest tip is to diversify and have a number of gigs. One or two can be primaries, but have back up. Also, create your own sites or other rev share options, like HubPages.

    • MsBizPro profile image

      Anna Green 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Great advice. Knowing what you are worth is essential if you're going to survive in the freelance world.

    • pinkytoky profile image

      pinkytoky 6 years ago from Singapore

      Very informative hub. Has sound advice as well. [Voted up.]

    • dmcgaw profile image

      Danielle McGaw 6 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Great hub. I think that as long as you are a good writer you can earn at the very least 1 cent a word but you have to be a fast writer to make good money at that. Try to get jobs writing on topics that you know about. Write fast and don't think too much for 1 cent a word.

    • Megan Coogle profile image

      Megan Coogle 6 years ago from Alabama

      Great hub! Good information for new freelancers.