What No One Wants to Tell You About Being a Freelance Writer

Hundreds of guides exist to becoming a freelance writer, with online courses, step by step methods, even checklists of what to do and when.

But it’s not often you’ll hear any negative talk about being a freelancer. Of course, it is a pretty sweet gig, so that may be why.

But being a freelance writer does present unique challenges and unexpected emotions. If you’re considering becoming a freelance writer, or you’re already in too deep and are freaking out, take a deep breath and hear me out.

 

If you're considering becoming a freelance writer, or you're already in too deep and are freaking out, take a deep breath and hear me out. WordsbyErynn.com

 

Rejection (and negative feedback) is hard to deal with.

Being a freelance writer will involve pitching for dozens of jobs that you won’t be hired for. You’ll write your perfect pitch, send out a zillion copies, and the rejections will start popping in.

It can be tough to read a form rejection letter and not ask yourself; What did I do wrong? Who actually got the job? How qualified are they? Did I make some huge mistake that will keep me from ever being hired again? 

Then you might feel a little haughty about it; They don’t even know me! How dare they! Truth is, rejection is common. Being hired, while not rare, is decidedly less common.

Get used to getting no’s, and keep pitching for the yes’s!

Negative feedback can fall into this same painful gut-affecting area. You might wonder if you’re destined to fail at freelancing the first time you get an, ‘I’m not sure about this…’ from a client. But, I’m here to reassure you- you can fix this!

Part of my we should all work for free mantra is related to extra time spent on not-quite-satisfied client work. Most times, an extra round of editing is all that’s needed to slide from ‘meh’ into ‘wow!’ with a client. I can’t guarantee that this tactic will always smooth over the bumps in the road.

However, it does offer huge potential for dissolving tension with clients, since it shows you’re serious about wowing them.

 

You might want to quit pitching. Or writing altogether.

The distaste for pitching may creep up on you, or it might slap you in the face when you’re sitting down to pound out the tenth pitch this week.

You’re overwhelmed or overstimulated or just plain bored with your current projects. It’s perfectly okay to step back! An occasional break is understandable and even beneficial, provided you’re not overlooking your clients’ needs.

I’ve been known to take off an entire day or two and immerse myself in activities completely unrelated to writing. Especially for those of us with kids, our business can’t consume all facets of our lives, so impromptu vacations are often requisite.

It’s also okay to have a backup plan in place. It’s okay to decide not to freelance anymore, as long as you have sketched out other options to keep your finances in check. Your backup plan might be getting a “real” (brick and mortar) job again, or it might be launching a business with a physical product.

Whatever plan A, B, or C is, employing it doesn’t make you a failure! Being a freelance writer could also lead you to other online job market options, so don’t feel trapped into any singular category.

 

You might feel [grossly] under qualified.

Particularly if you’re venturing into writing without a firm grasp of marketing basics, SEO, or knowledge of the inner workings of WordPress. Whatever your level of knowledge or experience, you’ll likely feel small next to writers with piles of published pieces and lengthy professional networks.

I’m reasonably sure this happens to all freelancers, whatever their specialty, as we’re all prone to momentary panic when clients look to us for knowledge and advice.

It’s important to remember, though, that you’re doing this for a reason. You have experiences to share and skills to build on. Whether you’re formally educated or self taught, there are always avenues for expanding your skill set and making yourself even more desirable to clients.

What you don’t already know, you can find out. Buy books, take other professionals’ courses, and follow people you admire for their speeches and talks on what it takes to be a freelance writer.

Now that you know a little about my personal struggles as a freelance writer, tell me about yours! What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as freelancer, and what the heck did you do about it?

 

Improve Your Website Copy in 4 Quick Steps

To be honest, I used to be judgmental of websites with tons of spelling errors or incoherent passages. As a copywriter, though, I finally get it. As a business owner, you are way too busy actually working to worry about your website copy. You’re responsible for managing employees, working out finances, ordering supplies, plus tending to the daily operational concerns related to the business. I understand your apathy toward finessing essays for online consumers.

The temptation to copy and paste a hastily written paragraph onto your site template is strong. But I’m here to remind you that your online content is a vital part of your business’ brand, and therefore its success. To jump start the content upgrade, I’ve listed four simple ways you can improve your website copy quickly and relatively painlessly!

 

Your online content is a vital part of your business' success. Here are four simple ways to improve your website copy quickly and relatively painlessly!

 

1. Set your brand’s tone

Your website copy literally speaks for you. Each section of your website should exude positive branding. Read through your existing website text and ask yourself, what does this content say? Am I being bland and boring, or am I actively and invitingly describing what I do in a unique way? If I came across this content elsewhere, would it be obvious that it’s talking about my brand or company? Does the narrative leave me nodding in agreement, or frowning at its lackluster delivery?

If your site reads like the ingredients list on a can of cheese whiz (fake junk, lots of fluff, added extra random unknowns), get out a notepad and pen! Start brainstorming all the ways your business is different from competitors. If you pride yourself on being honest above all else, highlight that. If your mission statement is about delivering an impeccable product, brag it up! The idea is to be straightforward about what you offer, but at the same time noting what makes your business stand out.

 

2. Be yourself

People who visit your website want to know not only what you sell, but also who you are. After all, there is an actual person behind the scenes, and you are what makes your business. Does your website have a little bit of you in it? Apart from the branding in step one, you want to zero in on your About section, or the Contact section, and slap your face on there! Now is not the time to be shy or modest!

Being yourself can go a long way in attracting clients, particularly if you’re offering a service or product that a hundred others are pushing too. Your story is what propelled your business to where it is today, and your customers would love to hear more about the why behind the what! Try and share something about yourself in at least one of the main menu items on your website, whether it’s your love of everything Pumpkin Spice or your ambitions toward running a marathon. If it’s part of who you are, then it is bound to be relevant to your audience too.

 

3. Encourage action

In the copywriting realm, the term ‘actionable’ is thrown around often. Essentially, actionable content is a tidbit that encourages the reader (or viewer or listener) to do something, other than simply consuming.

For a small business, website copy that invites visitors to like a social media page, view a gallery of past projects, or visit links to affiliated companies has the potential for actionable results. For example, when you’re done reading this post, I’ve got some sidebar links that invite you to follow me on social media, check out past blog posts, or even hire me.

Not everyone will click, but if you haven’t set up the opportunity, you’ll never know how much business might be escaping! Scan your website and ensure that you have strategically placed at least one contact form, any relevant social media links, and a call to action (click here to read something awesome, follow me on Twitter, visit the blog– something like that!).

 

4. Spell check

This can be a challenge when you’ve read and re-read your own writing a zillion times before hitting publish, but it’s important! Proper spelling and grammar is huge- because a few discerning clients won’t take you seriously once they’ve caught a number of errors in your copy. My secret weapon here is to send my copy off to a trusted friend or relative before posting it for the world to see. As grammar and spelling obsessed as I am, my eyeballs get tired too. A second opinion can’t hurt, particularly if there are some obvious [but not to you] discrepancies or omissions.

~

I know it’s tough to focus on something as mundane as web copy when the basics of your business demand your attention 24/7. But I urge you to invest a little time in improving it! Sprucing up your website copy only increases your potential for client visibility, which we know is the first step to keeping the biz afloat in the first place!