Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Four Biggest Mistakes as a Freelance Writer

Nobody's perfect. While I really feel I've grown as a writer and businessperson in the past two years, I made plenty of mistakes along the way--and some of them I'm still making. Here are four of my big freelancing no-no's--either ones that took me a long time to overcome, or ones I"m still working on.

Not carrying business cards around everywhere. I feel like lately, whenever I meet someone new and start talking about what I do, I invariably hear that the person I'm speaking to needs some help in the writing department. And do I ever have a business card? No. Writing my website address on a bar napkin is hardly a great way to make an impression. Like the person I just met is going to bring their scribbled-on bar napkin to the boss the next morning and say "Guess who I just met at Paddy's Shuck n' Jive last night! Our web copy problems are solved!"

Moral of the story? Need to get business cards. Need to carry them around.

Not putting my blog under my own domain name right away. I didn't put my blog under my own doman name because, well...I didn't know it was that important. Now I know otherwise. I also figure it will be a hassle to switch domain names at this point, and I'm going to have to reap the consequences of the cyber-choice I made later. If I had simply pointed this blog to my domain I wouldn't have to squander all the link love I've gotten since starting the blog, or worry about my subscribers, once I switch over.

Not being nearly as aggressive as I should be with marketing. I market when I notice work drying up. If I had a coherent marketing plan, work would be much more stable--fewer of the highs and lows of freelancing. Or at least that's what I assume.

Under-charging. We all make this mistake when we start out. While many freelancers start at the number they'd like to charge and then raise it, I started at that number and then lowered it.

So come on, confess: what are your biggest freelancing mistakes?


Unknown said...

Get thee to Vista Print, Jen. Some are free, but I paid $30 for an upgraded version of some very nice business cards. You can upload your own design, too.

Biggest mistake? Not making it crystal clear from the start that the client cannot drag in several opinions unless those people are paying me as well. The project is dead whenever you're suddenly expected to please all these brand-new editors.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm bad about the business card thing, too.

Biggest mistake is staying on the same level assignment that's in my comfort level instead of making each new assignment a stretch and a challenge.

Anonymous said...

Biggest mistake? Not yet taking that first step... (grin)

Anonymous said...

My biggest mistake has been underestimating the time it takes to do non-writing business tasks, such as invoicing, networking, and marketing.

John White, Localization Guy said...

Putting the blog on your own domain name can be tricky. I chose that option from the start, but there are blogger features you get on their domain that you don't get on your own.

I don't think I have made a "biggest mistake," but maybe that belief will turn out to be my biggest mistake.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

I think the greatest success is learning from your mistakes. You're doing a wonderful job with that.

Give me a shout if you need help transforming your blog onto it's own domain name. It can be done in about a day and costs surprisingly little to purchase webhosting and the domain name, set it up with blogging software and have this blog imported there with all your posts and comments.

If you've been putting it off, just email me and I'll do all the legwork for you!

Joseph @ Telecommute Jobs said...

Thanks Jennifer for being willing to share some of your mistakes. This should help me to weed out things that could mess up my work.