As a new freelance writer who has not landed a gig, things can get a little discouraging. Maybe you've received some interest but ultimately cannot secure an assignment.
You're not alone, my friend.
It becomes frustrating because you figure you've been doing everything right—checking job boards and sending relevant samples to stay on top of opportunities. New freelance writers make lots of mistakes before becoming successful and getting clients.
We've all been there.
You don't have to take this journey alone. To avoid some of the most common mistakes that first-year freelance writers make, I'm listing 5 major mistakes most newcomers make: from both the perspective of a business owner and a remote writer.
1. Not Following Up on Pitches You've Made
While sending your pitch is an important first step in securing a client, it's just as important to follow up (if you can). Your chances of landing the assignment greatly increase when you follow up with the client.
When an ad is put out, business owners receive—what seems to be—hundreds of responses. They go through countless pitches, often taking days or weeks to sort through responses. Sending a follow-up helps to distinguish you from other applicants. You just might catch them while they are looking over pitches.
Sending a follow-up a week or two after you've pitched is important. Simply ask if they have filled the need for a content writer. If not, then let them know you are available for work.
As both an international Project Director and SME Writer, I can tell you (firsthand) that repetitive/overly aggressive follow-ups are a major turn off. So, one email or communication attempt is usually good enough. And by the way...no means no. You'd be surprised to see how pushy (or understandably desperate) first-time remote writers can be.
Avoid these post-pitch mistakes, please.
2. Lack of a Quality Pitch
The main reason that first-year writers do not secure clients: lack of a strong pitch.
Stay away from using phrases like “I am new" or "I’m learning”. When conveying your service, speak as an expert.
Clients are working with you, you are not working for them. You provide a service and they count on you to be an expert on the subject matter. Show confidence without being overly boastful.
3. Your Writing is Not Good
Editors and business owners are turned off by several different things that make your writing bad.
• Mistakes. Improper use of capitalization, forgetting to make a word plural, using unnecessary words, being too wordy, and writing a list post with no list.
• Your writing is difficult to understand. Using big words. Writing online—using big fancy words—shows off your extensive vocab, but your readers will have to decode the message you're trying to convey. Busy project managers simply do not have time to weed through a plethora of verbiage.
The message should be easy to understand and relate to. Did you know that only a small percentage of people read word-for-word and most people also have a low attention span? Complex words will likely make people skip over your writing—especially busy project managers and business owners.
4. You Don’t Have a Blog—or "Published" Samples
Having a blog or website allows editors and business owners to view your relevant samples through links.
It helps build your portfolio. It provides free advertising. It showcases consistent and updated material. It also illustrates your niche.
Can't afford a website? No worries! There's multiple free website platforms that will allow you to easily create a personal or business site to display your services or samples. Alternatively, you can store your samples in Google Drive, Dropbox, or any trusted online storage/cloud service and simply share links with your prospective client from there...but, you REALLY should have some high-quality published work somewhere online
RemoteWriterJobs.com offers free profiles, guest writing opportunities, and external resources to approved members, so I strongly recommend that you consider requesting an account. To take it a step further, approved/vetted Exclusive Writers receive special and priority referrals to remote writing projects, jobs, and gigs throughout the year—including help with pitches and writing evaluations to boost your content. Sign up to submit your request. If you're approved, you'll receive an email to confirm and help you get started.
5. Your Niche is Too Broad
Having too broad of a niche can dissuade clients. Clients want an expert in their field—not a jack of all trades.
Clients are looking to you to provide subject matter from an experienced point of view. Once you are able to narrow your niche, you should be able to attract quality clients.
It's Your First Year—It WILL Get Better...and Better!
Making mistakes as a freelance writer is unavoidable, especially for new writers. What's most important is to:
Learn from your mistakes!
Use your experiences to help your career grow. Following up, create your own blogs, learning to self-edit your work, narrowing your niche, and presenting a strong pitch are all simple/basic ways to be successful.
As your career grows, you will be able to share your knowledge with other freelance writers. Don’t forget to be active on social media as well. Stay encouraged, it will all work out.
Are you interested in becoming a member of RemoteWriterJobs.com? Seeking to expand your writing experience as a first-year writer—and possibly build your portfolio a bit faster? Would you like to attend a free webinar by RemoteWritersWork or hire one of our experts for one-on-one help?
Request an approved membership by signing up today and let us know about your goals.
We're here for you!
Tony Yashar is a Contributing Author for Remote Writers Work, demonstrating a targeted goal towards influencing the growth and success of new remote writers and fellow seasoned content developers.
Tony specializes in B2B processes, real estate, and athletics.