5 Lessons I Learned As A Freelance Writer
There is no one great tip or one lesson you learn during freelancing. Everybody has a different experience. Mine has been an exciting one. Here's mine:
“So, what do you do?”
“I work as a full-time freelance writer.”
Five years ago if someone would have asked me to consider freelancing as a full-time career opportunity, I am pretty sure they would get a big NO from me. That time, it was all about new jobs, new offices, and new learnings. It wasn’t until the end of 2018 that I stumbled upon the freelancing world. Projects came in through acquaintances and by April 2020 I was a freelancer.
What came next were a lot of new clients, new projects, and again new learnings. And though I still have a long way to go, here are some key lessons I’ve learned:
1. Don’t Say Yes to Every Project
When you are a newbie, every project that comes your way seems like a great opportunity. I too used to get so excited with the new projects. Instead of properly analysing the time, effort, and charges, I would just say yes. The trouble would begin when I would start the project and then realize it wasn’t my cup of tea. So, take the cue and don’t just jump into every job.
You can ask yourself the following questions and then decide if you really want to take up the gig:
- Do I have the time and headspace to complete this work on the deadline?
- Do the charges offered by the company match my expectations?
- Have I already done this work or is this a completely new genre?
- Am I excited about this project?
Once you have answers to these questions, you will know whether to get the project on board or not. This not only saves your time but also the clients’. After all, they are spending their time and money on the whole process.
2. The Charging Dilemma
“Should I charge per hour or charge per word?” This is a universal question that hovers around every freelancer’s head. I was no different.
When I started working as a freelancer, I went ahead with the price per word, (PPW) strategy. This is still the most-opted way of charging. But then again, different projects call for different charging strategies. For instance, if you get a copywriting project wherein you have to write taglines, charging per word is a big mistake. In such a situation, go with the per-hour charge.
Another thing that troubles the new freelancers is how to decide the charges.
Well, that again depends on you. How much you charge is directly proportional to how confident you are about your services. And this confidence comes from the realization that your content is offering value to the client. Decide how much value you are giving and you will slowly get out of the charging dilemma. (It took me a few months to learn this. Just take your time and go with it.)
Tip: To be on the safer side, you need to decide for yourself the lowest you can charge for work and stick to that limit. This makes things much easier. With time you can increase that limit.
3. You Don’t Need To Have A Niche
I have seen so many freelancers asking newbies to narrow down their areas of interest and find a niche. And this has been amazing for many people. But not having a niche is also okay. All you need to know is how to do your work perfectly. I have never niched down my industries. I have written content for healthcare, lifestyle, travel, technology, finance, and many more. This “trying everything” has helped me learn different ways of writing.
But there is one thing I have finally settled for. When I started the work, I did it all — from long-form articles and website pages to social media posts and even fictional stories. Now, I pick only blogs, articles, or other long-form writing. So, even though I have not really settled for one specific niche, I have set some boundaries for my work. You can also try something like that.
Just make sure that you choose what works the best for you. Freelancing is a unique experience for everyone and you can create your own.
4. Find Red Flags and Save Time
For the first few months of my freelancing, I was not able to find the red flags and that cost me not just money but also my time and mental peace. See, when you are in the freelancing market, you will come across various clients and not all are going to be good ones. This is why you should keep a few pointers in your head that help you decide when it’s time to move on from a particular client.
For example, there is a client that calls you on odd hours and talks for hours without telling you about the project. Or there can be a client who is just never happy with your work. Or there can be a client who keeps on changing the requirements. In all these moments, you need to make a decision before it starts hampering your peace. Learn to say No and move forward.
5. Personal Branding Is Important
This is definitely a super-important lesson every freelancer should learn. I still am working on this part and that’s why mentioned it at the last. Personal branding can have a huge impact on your business. Be consistent and the results will be astonishing. But as easy as it may sound, personal branding is a tough task (Again, I am still working on this part ;))
When your online presence is strong, you get more leads and thus, more business. To begin with, you can start posting on LinkedIn. That’s where I began. Make a professional profile (you can check mine here), keep it updated, post consistently and engage. You can later turn to other social media platforms too.
There is no one great tip or one lesson you learn during freelancing. Everybody has a different experience. Mine has been an exciting one
This article was originally published on my personal website.
A professional content writer with 5 years of experience