You’ve taken the leap and made the decision that could change your life: you’re going to try and make a go of a career as a freelance writer. Getting to this point often takes hours of worry, stress, and dedication to your art-- surely everything after this point is relatively easy by comparison?
Sadly not; in fact, when you’ve made the decision to be a freelance writer, the work is just beginning. Now you have to try and make your choice a viable opportunity. You’ve never done this before, so it’s inevitable that you’ll make some mistakes along the way-- isn’t it?
Perhaps not. Perhaps you can avoid the all-too-common “new freelance writer” mistakes, and launch your career with a bang. If this sounds appealing to you, then read on for the errors you’re going to want to avoid as you embark on this new chapter in your life…
Common Error: Unclear Briefs
When you pitch a brief, it is far safer to give too much information than not enough. Editors can spot a new freelancer from miles away due to the length of their pitches. A seasoned writer knows that editors want detail; they want facts, statistics, and a clear insight into why that writer is the perfect fit to write the piece they are pitching.
A pitch should be at least 200 words, contain at least two links to sources you wish to quote, and a brief background about you as a person. This helps the editor to know that you have the right idea, the evidence to back it up, and are exactly the correct writer for the piece.
Common Error: Not Taking The Financial Side Seriously
When you decide to try to make it as a freelance writer, you have to approach the entire task as you would when starting a business. You have to ensure that you tick all the bureaucratic boxes, register your company via the likes of yourcompanyformations.co.uk (if you're in the UK) or accredited registers (if you're in the US) and be aware of your tax obligations.
When you’re just getting started in the writing industry, going through all of the above feels rather overwhelming. It’s also demands time that you feel would be better spent crafting your latest pitch. However, if you neglect the finances, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble in the future. Put good practices in place at the beginning of your journey, so you can establish good habits.
Common Error: Not Finding Your Own Style
When you’re trying to write professionally, you will likely read a lot of work produced by other people. This is generally good; it’s research, helping to shape the way you write… but it is possible to go too far.
It’s vital that you define your own style; something that is unique to you, and makes any words you produce instantly recognizable. If you (sometimes unwittingly) copy another’s style, or write with a dull “boilerplate” style, then you may struggle to convince clients and editors as to why you specifically are worth commissioning. There’s a great guide to finding your own writing style at oxbridgeediting.co.uk, so read through and take the points to heart.
If you can avoid the mistakes as mentioned above, you can be sure to get your writing career off to a flying start.