7 Mistakes That Newbie Freelance Writers Make

Last updated on July 11, 2020

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This is a guest post from Dennis – the gentleman who wrote this amazing article here. Today, he talks about the 7 mistakes that newbie freelance writers make. And seeing that it’s such a great time to be a freelance writer, you want to position yourself  for success. Take it away  Dennis!

It is indeed exciting to learn that there are work from home writing jobs. Indeed, your verbiage gift can actually pay the bills!

So what happens next?

Over the next weeks, you apply to scores of writing gigs. You are so darn excited about writing from home and earning in your pajamas, that you are willing to do everything it takes to snap up a victory. Everything!

But there are leaks, risks and downright self-sabotaging gaping holes that could sink your brand new writing career to oblivion, even before it starts to take shape, such as …

  1. You are a Copycat

By now you might have noticed a rather obvious but almost equally odd buzz word in about 99.9% of all gigs you’ve applied to, or bid for. “Ensure the content is 100% ORIGINAL”.

Plagiarism, which is the practice of copying (largely word for word) other websites’ content and passing it off as your own creative produce, is so rampant that there’s a profit making company, Copyscape, making a killing off of busting copycats online. Hopefully, you aren’t one of them cats.

Clients desperately need original work. And Google’s search spiders ensure that they demand it or risk sinking to the bottom of web search results—where only Google’s algorithm dares to visit every once in a while.

Read Also:  Dear Writer, Here’s Some Information For You

So if you are a copy-paste, sneak-a-peek “writer”, please don’t. Your clients lose heavily when both readers and search engines think they aren’t “serious” enough to come up with authentic content.

  1. You Don’t Understand SEO?

You just might want to rethink that.

Nowadays, the more the keywords and key phrases you stuff in an article, the less charismatic you’ll become. And perception is something you might not want to mess with, as a writer worth your salt.

Since about a year and a half ago, the leading internet search engines on the web (Google, why be vague) label any piece of verbiage that crosses the 3% keyword threshold as pure junk. It’s called keyword-stuffing—keywords use on steroids.

It is faked content, and most times keyword-stuffing interferes with easy reading, which is not something you’ll want to play around with as a copywriter, for example. You need your write ups read.

Ideally, aim for 1.5% keyword density. Ensure you hit the 1.5% jackpot by only repeating the exact keyword or key phrase given by the client only about 4 times in an entire 500-word piece. Two out of the four should be in both the introductory paragraph and conclusion. One more thing, though.

You’ll have to convince a, well, newbie client that more keywords does not equal higher search ranking—at least not in 2016. Needless to say, I’ve had few clients who didn’t agree with that, and rejected the work anyway.

  1. You Lack Professionalism


This is, unfortunately, another of the 7 mistakes that newbie freelance writers make. When you are “working” from your kitchen table, who cares about professionalism? Heck, you can freelance from a tent in a park—smack in the middle of a vacation.

Really, how professional is working in your pajamas—probably half asleep, with a cup of coffee on one hand and toast on the other? But it is almost too important.

Whether you are working from a comfy bed, home office, cyber café, or scooping off some bandwidth from your workplace for your new writing venture’s sake, remain professional all the time.

Read Also: Are You Really Cut Out For Online Freelance Work?

So you’ll be smart to refrain from sending WhatsApp-like texts to the client, such as. ..

-U r so welcome!

-Tx for de payment!

Brevity may be a talent, but certainly not in this case!

Speaking of professional…

  1.  You Mix Up Writing Styles – Professional/Conversational Tone

    In the instructions, the client will most likely state whether they need the article done in a professional tone or a conversational one. In the latter, you are required to write as if you were having a verbal banter (a friendly one, mind you) with a friend you might be used to or just met. If you’ve ever tried to sell those over-ambitious herbal supplements in an MLM scam to a friend, then you know that people hate being sold to.

So try not to be clever with “a conversational tone” type of write up. It calls for you to write as if you were speaking with a friend—face to face. A professional tone on the other hand, has that touch of “not joking. Professionals-only” under-tones to it. It doesn’t have to be aloof like a 90’s government posting, though. Just ensure you aren’t too playful with it. No slang words. No kidding.

On the web, however, it is best to pen professional pieces in a conversational tone, but avoiding all that slang and stuff.

  1. You Are Not Being Helpful.

Ideally, draw in your readers to your point of view of things (and likely to a product you are selling) by providing useful, original, even motivational information on that particular product.

For example, instead of advertising an Omega 3 supplement by stating how it was manufactured using the latest pharmaceutical processing tech, epitomize the benefits of using that new processing tech to make the supplement.

Read Also: What You Need To Know About iWriter

Does it make the Omega 3 more pure than previous generations of similar supplementary products? Is that a yes? Then show it the heck off. That is what everyone cares to hear. No one cares about the machine that made it. Well, unless you are looking to buy that particular machine, in which case you’d need to be writing to appeal to pharmaceuticals firm managers or their procurement team, or you are just a real nerd.

  1. Would You Please, Please Not Beg For The Writing Job?

 Seeing that it’s not incredibly easy to get work from home writing jobs, shall we just beg for them then? You resort to some (sic*) tried-n-tested antics to see if you can get that first gig. Then maybe you’ll do a great job and garner a raving review. That would help net some big fish clients in future, maybe.

But alas, your application gives off a whiff of desperation. And the client catches wind of it. They ask if you can provide free writing samples. That is, write a few samples from scratch, on topics of their choosing. With the dry spell about to fizzle out (you think), you are only too happy to provide the freebies.

Unfortunately, once you’ve delivered the pieces, the client pops off—like a ghost.  As many of those who’ve provided free samples “to gauge your writing skill” before say Ay? That sound you hear is the moan of thousands of newbie pen artists whipped up to reality by con artists.

If you must, then only provide one, and a short one too.

  1. Being Your Own Boss?

The most clichéd benefit about writing jobs from home is that is you are your own boss. It might actually be overrated. After all, someone else requires you to be consistently great at what you do for them, for pay—just like in any other business or career, the customer is the ultimate boss.

But hey, you are a boss. So you feel there’s no need to strictly deliver remarkable work on time. You don’t even have to check your email almost every eighth of an hour to respond to a question that a current, potential or returning client posts through. You are a boss.

You can easily delegate tasks to a friend when your client specifically asks that you handle it yourself, just because you can. They probably won’t even know, you think. Then they later let you know that they already recognize your style of writing, designing, etc, only this time they are also letting you go, saying they’ll no longer be working with your clumsiness. And so the boss gets fired.

That little incidence maybe, just maybe gets you to learn that working online is pretty much like any other offline business. That satisfying a client’s every reasonable need is what brings real independence, the online success story.

Recommended Read: Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business

Getting it as a newbie shouldn’t be exasperating a process, as drilling through a swamp of freelancing information for help. The seven rookie mistakes above highlight what not to do (well, and probably what to do), to make it as a freelance, location independent worker from wherever you are.

What mistakes did you make as a freelance writer? Please share in the comments below. You just might  help out someone else.

About the author

Virginia Nakitari is a work from home mom passionate about making money online. She's here to show you legitimate companies offering full-time, part-time and remote jobs from home! Stay tuned!

  • I think point 7 applied to me the other day, being your own boss. I was given a one hour job to transcribe by a fellow Kenyan freelancer and it was legal transcription, though I majored on general transcription I wanted to try something new, in which the audio was very clear and of good quality, due to power outages and interruptions I couldn’t finish the job but i told him immediately, but he got mad because the deadline had passed and so he was told by the client that he won’t be needing his services. I know my speed is still wanting so for newbies always do what you can do because I thought I could handle the job. Though we are still in good terms, I learnt a lesson that always have the necessary preparations when handling online work and schedule your time well.

    • Sorry to hear that Imelda. Some of the issues that can crop up are unforeseen, such as power outages and unreliable internet. It helps to have a backup when that happens, such as quickly heading to a cyber that has a generator, or buying solar power or a battery (with an inverter). They say experience is the best teacher!

  • Great article Sheeroe. I must say I love visiting your blog once in a while. As a freelancer, I have concentrated on writing eBooks for my clients and I am sure you know what it takes to over deliver on a small pay…

    I made some of the mistakes you mentioned above when I was starting off, saw an order of $180 cancelled just a day before clearance and much more disappointments. There has been a month which went through without a single order. In some companies, my account was permanently disabled with no valid reason. What do you do at such a times?

    This is what I did

    I picked myself up all the same; collected the fragments littered on the floor and stitched them together. I have packed my backpack with great lessons from my mistakes both as a freelancer and as a blogger.

    Despite being keen on every detail, you will somehow meet a stubborn client who will try to take you down. Just don’t succumb.

    And in case you thinking of starting a blog, Then here are Ten Things You Have to Know Before You Start a Blog http://pennymatters.org/ten-things-you-have-to-know-before-you-start-a-blog/

    • Thank you Mysson. The road to freelance success is littered with obstacles and challenges.. But these challenges help us to grow, and we end up helping others too, before they meet the same issues!

  • Very important article this one.From my point of view it points to some very key ingredient that everyone ought to possess or aspire to possess.That ingredient is Attitude.They say ‘your attitude will determine your latitude’,i need not say much because the above article says the rest.From my life’s experience everybody who cares about their image and the way they are projected towards others,should seriously consider about reviewing their attitude. Enough said.

  • Thanks for the tips – despite most of them seeming quite ‘obvious’ to a seasoned writer/professional, there are many ‘newbs’ that continue to make the same mistakes.

    I’ve also found that being consistent with your delivery is important, as well as under-promising and over-delivering. Clients always appreciate that!

    Looking forward to reading more !

    PJ Sherman – Freelance Writer – Available for Hire

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