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When You’re Starting Out as a Freelance Writer

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There are many different websites that promise they have the number one route for freelance writers to instant success online. A few simple articles will get you those big fish in a jiffy, but the sad reality is that it will take a lot more than that. Hard work, long hours, and the constant sorting through all the dribble online will hopefully turn up a well-paying customer or two someday.

What About the Content Mills?

Although many writers may not agree, some content mills have their place in a fresher’s writing career. Getting stuck in a mill is the dangerous part, as there are some pretty horrible sites out there. I’ll give you a bit more information on the mills in a later post, but for now, what you need to know is that you need to build up a good reputation with as many sites as you can manage. This is crucial to ensure that you have a constant stream of work, and when one site dries up you can still pick up work on another. The quicker you build up your reputation, the easier it is. There are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Read the terms and conditions, as some sites stipulate that they own any work submitted to the client on the site, and not you as the writer. Not even when the client doesn’t pay for it. Many clients are also unaware that the site retains ownership of the content.
  • Be wary of clients who have high decline rates and low scores, as they tend to be the ones to pull a fast one. The content mill won’t bail you out either, as many of those customers are still on there, month after month.
  • Don’t trust a content mill that offers you the opportunity to buy your way to a better rating. This is just a horrible money-making scheme and you may not even be successful. The sad truth is that many writers get stuck in the lower rungs because of cheap clients, and those who aren’t that great tend to enjoy all the meaty articles.

Bulk Work

Bulk work for a writer is one of the most wonderful things, as it provides a steady source of income. This allows you as a freelance writer to have better control of your budget, and those bread and butter items are taken care of.

Before accepting a bulk order, make sure that you have all your documents in order should you need to take action against this client for none-payment. Be careful of customers who don’t have a website, permanent address, or landline.

When you’re not sure about payment, hold on. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time on research. Working through the content mills seem to be a bit safer, but payment is still not guaranteed.

Contracts and Paperwork

When you’ve managed to land a nice client, it’s important to ensure that you have the necessary paperwork in place. Get into the habit of doing things right from the start. You will have a much smoother career going forward. Any client who does not want to sign your contract, will probably also be less inclined to pay you in the end as well.

Pitch Perfect?

The right pitch to the right client will set you apart from all the dribble they need to sort through. Although there are many different ways to create a perfect pitch, there are a few things that will have the editor press the delete key quicker than you can say “I love your publication.” These are:

  • Glaring spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Passive voice in writing prompts (without clear instructions for passive voice)
  • Poorly formatted e-mails
  • Unsolicited e-mails asking for advice

There is no quick fix to landing the high rollers from the start. However, the fastest route is to ensure that you have the basics right. Work through free resources provided by websites that will help you with the basic outline of your articles. These include formatting skills, correct attributions, and more. There are also many freelance writing communities that are eager to support you in your journey. You will find that many clients and other freelancers are very forgiving of your mistakes. That is if you remain humble and eager to learn.

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