I first published this article way back in 2008, but the pitfalls remain the same, if you want to make money writing. Pay attention, if you’d like to get into the ranks of top-earning freelancers.
The 80/20 rule applies to freelance writing as it does to everything else. Twenty per cent of freelance writers are making double and triple what they made in their former day jobs, but eighty per cent languish in low-writing-income hell.
If you’re not making a GREAT income as a freelance writer, realize that it’s well within your reach, and faster than you imagine possible, if you avoid common pitfalls.
In this article, we’ll look at the three most common pitfalls. Not only do new writers stumble into them, but so do writers who are selling, but aren’t selling enough.
The world of writing is changing. These days, anyone with a pulse can be a “writer”. If you want to know how to get into the top 20 per cent of writers, read on.
Here are the three most common pitfalls of freelance writing:
1. Lack of planning and follow through.
PLAN! I wish I could speak with you so I could drum the importance of planning into you. Planning is vital. Planning is usually all that’s standing between you and an income which will make your friends and relatives envious.
By planning, I mean planning everything.
Plan for your overall writing career. You should have a five year plan, a three year plan, and a plan for the next 12 months.
You also need to plan on a micro level. You must know what you’re writing this month, this week, and today.
Every piece of writing needs to be planned too. Create a simple list outline for every article, report, news release and book you write.
Plan, and follow your plan. Without plans, you’ll procrastinate.
Think about how much your time is worth. If your time is worth $100 an hour, then every hour you procrastinate costs you $100. Every two hours you watch TV instead of writing costs you $200.
2. Not treating your writing like a business and marketing it.
Every business needs to market itself. No marketing, no business. This applies to your writing too. You need to find ways to get yourself known as a writer, so that people can hire you directly.
Scouring the Web for “writing jobs” is a waste of time on many levels.
Here are just two reasons you waste time when hunting for writing jobs: the best jobs are never advertised, and remembering the 80/20 rule, only 20 per cent of the jobs which are advertised are worth getting.
Market your writing services every day. You can market your writing services INSTANTLY with a blog – if you don’t have a blog, you’re throwing away money and time .
3. Timidity – a lack of innovation and creativity
The final major fatal pitfall of freelance writing is failing to tap into your own creativity because you’re scared.
Many writers are filled with self-doubt. This is corroding, both on your writing ability and on your spirit. Self-doubt KILLS creativity.
The only way to eliminate self-doubt is to write and to publish what you write. That’s all. If you want to be assured that you can write BEFORE you write, then you’re bound to fail. All writing is discovery. You’ll know what and how you write after you write it, not before. And as for selling what you write, thousands of Web sites are happy to pay you for words… so write.
You can only tap into your creativity when you write and give yourself the freedom to write whatever it turns out that you do write. Only you can write. So stop getting in your own way, and simply… write.
Now you know what the three fatal pitfalls of freelance writing are, you can avoid them, and build a great freelance career.
2014 update: the more things change, the more they stay the same
If you want to make money writing, avoid these pitfalls. Let me put it another way. Avoid them if you want to become a top-earning writer.