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The top 10 mistakes made by freelance writers and copywriters.

 

by Nick Usborne

 

10. Accepting any work they can get

 

Freelancers get anxious about paying the bills. So they are tempted to take on every job that comes their way.

 

Doesn't matter whether the fee is good, whether the deadline is reasonable or whether the task actually matches their skills. They take on every job because they don't dare say no to the money.

 

The trouble, they end up filling their time doing the wrong work for the wrong price. And they don't leave themselves time to pause, think and focus on getting the kind of work that is right for them.

 

9. Failing to set up an effective home office

 

Working from home isn't easy. There are a ton of distractions, especially if you have a family. And more often than not, family members will treat you as being "at home", because you haven’t taken steps to let them know you are "at work".

 

To work effectively, you need a room or a space that is devoted entirely to your work.

 

This will help you remain focused while you are working, and will serve as a prompt to other family members that you are "at work" and not available.

 

8. Failing to become an authority in a chosen niche

 

There are thousands of freelance writers and copywriters out there. Most of them are generalists, working on any assignment that comes there way. Do you really want to compete with them?

 

Far better that you establish a clear niche, an area in which you specialize and then become a recognized expert.

 

By becoming a respected expert in your niche, you separate yourself from the herd. Clients come to you. You get to charge more. Marketing your services becomes easier.

 

7. Competing on price

 

Do you really want to compete with someone who charges just $5 to write a 500-word article?

 

When you try to compete on price, you are jumping into a downward spiral. Your earnings will decline, you'll work harder and harder and you'll feel terrible about yourself and your business.

 

Never compete with other freelancers on price. Set your prices according to the quality and value of what you can do. Your prospects and clients wil respect you more for knowing your own worth.

 

6. Failing to turn a small assignment into a larger one

 

Don't allow yourself to have a "piece work" mentality.

 

If you are given a small job by a new client, look for ways to make it into a bigger job or an ongoing series of jobs. Use the first job to figure out what your client really needs. Then suggest related ways in which you can help further.

 

5. Paying too little attention to the marketing of your own business

 

Freelancers get so busy with the work they have, they fail to pay enough attention to marketing their own business. This doesn’t just mean getting new work. It means stepping back, thinking about your business, reworking your web site and print materials. Planning ahead.

 

4. Wasting time on low-value projects and clients

 

You may have one or two great clients you have had for years. They may be a pleasure to work with and always pay on time. But what kind of return are you getting for your time?

 

From time to time, step back and look at how much time you spend with each client or activity. Then add up the income you have made.

 

Make a list of your high-value clients and your low-value clients.

 

Figure out how to get more of the high-value kind, and let the others go.

 

3. Not making productive use of their time

 

Freelancers get distracted, all the time. Be aware of this. At the end of each day, make a list of what you have done that is moving you forward...and a list of the things you did which were a waste of time. Do this every day. It can be scary.

 

Become aware of your time wasting activities. That way you'll be better able to recognize them. And when you do recognize the opening moment of a time-wasting activity, stop. Do something more productive.

 

2. Failing to separate their business and personal lives

 

This is connected to the poor productivity issue. Emptying the dish washer during work hours is not a productive use of your time.

 

Use a day planner and a to-do list. Become a lot more self-disciplined. Clear you mind of "home" tasks and focus on your work.

 

Being able to take a break and have coffee with friends may be part of the allure and the "freedom" of working from home...but it is rarely an effective way to get your work done.

 

Put aside the romance of working from home. During working hours, be "at work".

 

1. Failing to set goals for their business

 

Almost all freelancers drift. They are piece workers, running from one assignment to the next. They have no plan. No goal.

 

Set some clear goals for your business. You're a freelancer, so you have no boss, manager or colleagues to keep you on track. You have to do this for yourself.

 

Determine where you want your business to be in 12 months 24 months, 36 months.

 

Set targets. Identify milestones. Plan each step forward.

 

And whatever you do, whatever clients you take on, make sure that you are working directly towards the next step towards your goal.

 

If you find yourself taking a step sideways, stop. If you're stepping backwards, stop.

 

Set goals and make sure every step you take, every action your take, is aimed towards your next milestone and your ultimate goal.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing for the Web

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