It’s a rough world out there for a freelance writer to succeed, as the competitive market is only getting more populated by the day, making it virtually impossible to stand out in such a huge crowd. But, with so many newcomers into the freelance world, focusing just on this one aspect of your work will not ensure a successful, long-lasting career.
Some of you might recognize themselves in the following segments, others may still have time to learn from those who’ve been there, done that, before you unavoidably dive into some of your own mistakes. We’d all be lucky if these were the only ones you’re bound to make, so in addition to always educating yourself, remain as critical towards your work as possible, to learn from your errors.
No blog of your own
In addition to your guest post efforts, collaboration with other prominent names in the blogosphere and working as a ghostwriter, if you don’t have a solid online presence, then you’re bound to miss out on many opportunities. Your blog serves as your best, always changing portfolio, with fresh content and relevant topics covered, to show that you’re active, and curious.
Not only will you be able to grow a wider audience, but you will also attract more clients, and earn a more trustworthy reputation. With an empty homepage with nothing more than adds, there’s little chance your potential client will stick around. Offer more valuable regularly updated content, and you’ll have them hooked.
Spreading yourself too thin
Whenever you’re tempted to dip into a niche that’s really not your forte, just remember that famous saying that a Jack of all trades is a master of none. Cliché, but still worth mentioning, because your expertise can only be reputable if you stick to what you are truly good at. Whether that’s marketing, medicine, law, fashion or music, I bet you’ve never seen an MD dancing ballet for the National Theatre and practicing criminal law on the side.
Too many freelancers try to have a go at many different niches, believing that research is all it takes to fill the knowledge gaps. In reality, your opinions, education and knowledge are limited to few, but valuable spheres. Find them, define them, and dominate them both on your personal blog, and in your guest posts and while pitching clients.
Avoiding the client chase
While we’re on the topic of pitching, very few people find it enjoyable, including those whose only job is to pitch all day long. Let’s go back to that scary and still soaring number of freelancers out there – are you aware that there are literally millions of freelancers in the US alone? Many of whom are chasing after the exact same project on the same network as you are?
It’s a battle to wrap your mind around these numbers, but if almost 54 million people go for the same gigs over and over again, you need to find a way to fight for yourself. And that means going after the clients directly, not just waiting for projects and emails asking you to work for someone. Email those niche-specific businesses you believe will benefit from your work. Call them, send a pigeon messenger, just don’t sit comfortably in your chair doing nothing.
Neglecting your visuals
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to understand the value of good accompanying images with a blog post. Many clients are too busy to deal with details such as this one, and they rarely intend to hire someone who will do just the visuals, read your blog post, and find the right photo or graphics. This means that they might choose someone over you who doesn’t have to be told to add images, because, yes, bloggers are allowed to show initiative.
Even your own posts need to be further reinforced by powerful imagery, and with so many free stock images available, you have no excuse to keep your blogs visually unappealing and deprive your readers of proper visual backup. No matter how good a font you choose, you need to use your imagination and a plethora of online resources (or even your own personal camera) to offer stimulating, engaging content.
Selling yourself short
At the very beginning of your freelance career, you will often be prompted to work for exceptionally small amounts of money simply to build credibility, and to fill your portfolio both with work and great feedback. However, many bloggers fall into the trap of letting this go on for too long, because they either feel uncomfortable to raise their fee with an existing client, or they’re afraid of losing work.
Although these fears make sense, they will be well-founded even if you stick to a low price – perhaps clients may feel that you offer low quality compared to your peers with the same amount of experience but for a substantial fee. Overselling and underselling yourself are both a possibility, so keep an eye on the market’s tendencies, talk to your freelance colleagues, check out your competition and always strive to up the price within reasonable boundaries.
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