5 Business Mistakes Freelance Writers Make

mistakes freelance writers makeTrying to land more clients or generate more income? Not having much success?

Well, there are some serious mistakes freelance writers make when it comes to business. See how you compare to the list below:

Charging Low Rates

Every writer needs to start somewhere, but you must increase your rates if you want to build a career.

So, spend your time finding well-paid work.

When freelance writers begin to look at the online marketplace, they usually come across content mills and bidding websites (such as elance.com).

Their first impressions are that standard rates are $2 to $5 for a 500 word article. You must avoid this trap.

It’s true that certain writers will charge low rates, but you shouldn’t do the same. You can charge 10 times that (or more, based on your experience) and generate far more business.

Charging low fees to write articles and blog posts will quickly lead to burnout, and ultimately quitting the writing business.

But, with a better marketing strategy you can find clients happy to pay the rates you deserve.

Not Marketing Consistently

Marketing is the lifeblood of the freelance writing business.

You need to market your writing services every day. You must generate new leads and follow up on old ones.

Marketing is essential, even when you have a full roster of clients. Clients can exhaust their budgets, change direction or simply ignore you, which will leave you with cash flow problems, if they were your only source of income.

Send emails, make phone calls, send letters of introduction, blog, guest blog, Tweet, and update your social profiles.

Not Qualifying Clients

In simple terms, this means that you need to set the terms, instead of letting the client set them.

Know what type of client you want to work with, the niche market, and what you won’t except.

When you have standards (which your clients must agree to), you will remove the majority of your problems.

Even with high rates, avoid problematic projects as they will cause stress, waste your time and cost money.

Not Treating It As A Business

Freelance writing must be treated as a business if you want a long, profitable career.

Many writers enjoy the freedom and independence of working from a home office. However, this will backfire unless you plan your day, remove distractions, return emails, and execute a solid marketing plan.

Organization and productivity are essential.

Being Mediocre

Mediocrity has ruined many good writers. The best gigs aren’t given to average writers, bloggers and copywriters.

Doing just enough is a recipe for failure.

Even when you gain success and have a full slate of well-paying clients, you need to keep pushing yourself.

Keep improving, deliver more than expected and be the best investment for your client. This will help to ensure you keep getting repeat work, referrals and endorsements.

Have you overcome any of these freelancing mistakes? Leave a comment below and share how you took action.


  1. says

    Great post Tom. Your third point is especially important. Too many freelancers, especially when they’re new, let clients set all the terms. They act like they’re an employee who has to answer to an employer. But they’re business owners. They have something to offer that other people and businesses need. And like any business, they set the terms for what they offer — or at least they should.

    • says

      Thanks, Jenn.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you. This is one of the major stumbling blocks for new freelance writers. Simply making the context switch from “writer” to “business owner” can have an immediate knock-on effect on rates, terms and client selection. This is something I plan to cover in greater detail, as it’s so important.

  2. says

    Hey Tom,

    great post. I’ve been meaning to get my feet wet, so this post came about right in time. I’ve made the mistake of charging tiny portions of what I could have potentially charged in the first place, and now that my skills have grown it should be much easier to find something profitable :)

    Thank you,

    • says

      After taking your first job, I recommend you increase your rates right away. Get a glowing reference from your client and then move on, unless he is willing to pay you more for you next set of articles/ blog posts.

      I think you are on the right track, Alex, as you seem to know that you are worth much more than you were previously charging. All the best to you.


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