6 Toxic Behaviors Killing Your Freelance Writing Business

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Yes, you get to be your own boss as a freelance writer. But that doesn't mean there aren't dozens of people looking over your shoulder. Much like a traditional employee-employer relationship, the way you treat your current and potential clients determines if you'll have a paycheck in the future.
Yes, you get to be your own boss as a freelance writer. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens of people looking over your shoulder. Much like a traditional employee-employer relationship, the way you treat your current and potential clients determines if you’ll have a paycheck in the future.
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A week doesn’t go by without tackling questions about making it as a freelance writer.

Yes, I work.
No, I’m not looking for a job.
Yes, I’m happy with my career. Yes, I said career. I’m a small business owner.

It hasn’t been an easy or quick journey to become a full-time writer. Instead of pleasing one boss, I have several clients to impress.

Some are easier than others to woo with my wordiness. And some experiences have taught me how to improve my business skills and move forward. I’m happy to share.

Stop Doing These 6 Things to Make Your Small Biz Thrive

1. Don’t be a Debbie Downer.
We all have bad days. Projects take longer than expected. Plans change.

Although you’re frustrated, it’s best not to take it out on your social media feeds with garbled rants and pointed words. You never know who will see your posts, like your next potential client who’s been secretly trolling your posts to learn more about you!

Instead, suck it up, eat some chocolate or go to a yoga class. Find your method of decompressing and let it out away from a public forum that can be forever preserved with a screen shot.

2. Don’t brush off deadlines.
More than once I’ve opened an email that goes something like this:

“Hi Angela! I hope you’re doing well. I’m wondering if you’d have the bandwidth to help out on a last-minute project. I know it’s short notice, but would you be available to write a ….”

So, either someone had an amazing idea while sipping their morning coffee, or another writer didn’t come through and the client has a hole in their editorial calendar.

The takeaway? Meet deadlines and expectations, or risk having your projects outsourced to someone who will get things done (and probably get the call next time the client needs help).

3. Don’t turn in rough drafts.
This is no joke. More than once I’ve read through a client’s writing guidelines and they actually have to emphasize self-editing and using spellcheck.

Really?

Who would dream of spilling their brain onto a document and simply pushing “send'” without a few rounds of revisions?

If you want repeat work from a client, put your best foot forward — always.

4. Don’t be a recluse.
As a writer, it’s easy to snuggle into the keyboard and wish the world away as you type, type, type. But, as a small business person, you also have to be sociable, even if you work from a home office or roaming laptop workspace.

The more outgoing and personable you are, the more connections you’ll make, which in turn may become business opportunities. Reach out and tweet someone today!

5. Don’t do cookie-cutter work.
If you don’t understand your client’s services and products, you might offend them with your this-works-all-the-time approach or wording.

Before starting any project, your first bit of research should be about the client. Look at their website, social media and blog. Understand their language, beliefs, target audience and purpose. Incorporate these ideals into your assignment.

6. Don’t shut down and fade away.
More than once I’ve been in communications with a client or a source, and they simply stop responding. Later I find out via the online writer’s grapevine that the person is often lazy and doesn’t follow-through.

Be accountable. Be present. Be available. If people can’t find you and you aren’t prompt with your communications, why would they want to work with you?

Yes, you get to be your own boss as a freelance writer. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens of people looking over your shoulder. Much like a traditional employee-employer relationship, the way you treat your current and potential clients determines if you’ll have a paycheck in the future.

 

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3 Replies to “6 Toxic Behaviors Killing Your Freelance Writing Business”

  1. All excellent pieces of advice! I was especially struck by the last bit, being guilty of it early in my freelance writing journey. Juggling between pursuing a nursing career and breaking it into freelancing made me so pressed for time that I faded away at one point from the web. It’s a horrible mistake and I have no excuses. It cost me a client and good feedback but I’m doing my best to rebuild and move on. Story of my life lately. 🙂
    I hope new freelancers get to read your post to caution them from making these business killing mistakes. More power to you!

    1. Hi Nurse Yen, Thanks for reading and sharing your journey. It *is* tough to balance so many things, especially when juggling two careers at once. But, you have the right mindset moving forward. Rebuild and move on! Upward and onward! Good luck to you! ~Angela

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