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4 Causes Of Freelance Writing Failure

failWhen I talk with writers who have given up on freelancing it’s usually because of at least one of the following four reasons – sometimes more than one.

While doing each of these doesn’t guarantee success they do go a long way toward improving your odds of real success.

Skip the marketing – Marketing yourself and your writing is an absolute must. That means more than just a website, although these days that’s a must. Your marketing doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, but it does need to be consistent. Not sure exactly how to market? No worries, we aren’t born knowing that either. There are a ton of marketing tips and techniques right here in our Marketing CategoryAnother great resource is Lori Widmer’s wonderful ebook, Marketing 365: Daily Strategies costs less than $5 and you could do worse than do one of her suggestions each and every day.

Don’t treat your writing like the business it is – Unless you’re independently wealthy, and maybe even if you are, if you want to make a consistent good income from your writing you simply must approach it in a business-like manner. You need to write regularly  and the best way to do that is by setting up a schedule you can follow. You need to track income and expenses and invoice your clients in a timely manner.

Don’t get everything in writing – Every time you agree to do some writing you expect to get paid for you need that agreement in writing. It doesn’t have to be as complete as the contract guide I use for ghostwriting books, but it should include the basics – including a description of the work, and the timing of both your work and the client’s payments to you.

Don’t follow instructions – This is particularly true of market listings, but also applies to any online ads you may want to apply for. When an editor or potential client says “no attachments” that’s exactly what the mean. If they say send three samples, then attach three pieces of work you’ve done for yourself or someone else. And include your phone number and your email address – email often gets printed so it can’t be replied to with the click of a button; phoning may be more your prospect’s style anyway. Don’t hide!

Writers often fail at these four items because they don’t feel as, what, creative? But that’s a cop-out. Marketing can be creative, finding creative ways to be in business is just part of the game. If you want readers and you want steady income you’ll learn to handle each of these well. All it takes is time and practice!

How about you? Have you ever been guilty of any of these? How did you learn to do it better? 


When you share these posts it helps me, so thanks so much!

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Excellent post, Anne. So very true.
    Elizabeth West recently posted..A Professional Critique and NewBook NewsMy Profile

  • Ed

    Many people try to make their hobby of writing into a business, but still treat it as a hobby.
    I read somewhere that to make a living writing you have to charge at least $100 per hour to make the same income as a regular job with benefits.
    Thanks for sharing
    Ed recently posted..Speed reading tipsMy Profile

    • you need at least 3 times the hourly you were making with a regular job is the figure I use the most, or more.

  • Good post Anne. Marketing and treating your writing as a business are so important, and sadly so often neglected in freelancing.
    Jenn Mattern recently posted..Weekend Reading: Time ManagementMy Profile

    • Thanks Jenn. You’re right, of course! 😉

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