The journey of a freelance writer is not smooth – the road is fraught with pot holes and sharp bends. The slightest mistake and you end up in a mess. We’re all humans and we all make mistakes. I, too, have made quite a few in the beginning of my career. But time has made me wiser and I know now how to avoid them. Here’s what I learned –
1. Don’t treat writing as a hobby: When you’re working alone from your home, you tend to take things a little lightly – but don’t, because this is the root cause of all mistakes. If you have made writing your career, then treat it like a career – not as a hobby. Treat the people you write for as your clients, not as friends. Make rules for your business and follow them strictly – never break them. Keep records of everything – your clients, your payments, your receipts, your drafts, copies of all the correspondence and written assignments, everything. You never know when you might need them.
2. Don’t procrastinate: Always reply to all your e-mails as soon as you read them. Never delay, even if your clients are slow in writing. Keep to your deadlines. Your deadlines are your absolute commitments, commitments that should never be broken. Getting things done on time is what makes your reputation, and your reputation is important for the success of your business. It’s what shows your clients how reliable and competent you are. It’s what makes your clients return to you with more assignments.
3. Don’t restrict yourself: By restricting, I mean don’t keep to one kind of writing – diversify to several areas and subjects. This way you’ll never be out of work. If your client wants you to write on a subject that you feel you do not know, or on a genre you haven’t attempted before, don’t refuse. Do research. And by research I do not mean just read one page of reference or explanation, but go to several sources to learn – books, websites, experts in the field, as many sources as you can think of. Clients appreciate writers who are willing to learn. Diversifying opens you up to more market opportunities.
4. Don’t forget to follow up: Don’t forget your clients once you have completed the assignments. Keep in touch with them through e-mails. If you are one who forgets names, then write them down, but don’t forget to let them know what a pleasure it was working with them and how you look forward to more. You could even suggest a new idea that can prove to be beneficial to the client’s business. The reason for doing this is simple – If you don’t follow up, it won’t be long before they forget who you are.
What lessons have you learned the hard way? Why don’t you share them here with us, so we can all learn from each other’s mistakes?