When I first decided I wanted to freelance for a living, I had just been laid off from my job. So, I had plenty of time. I did lots of research on the web in order to find out how I could break into writing, and followed through on many of the ideas. But, despite the guidance on the internet, I made lots of mistakes. As a freelance writer who was trying to make a living, my biggest mistake was that I spread myself too thin.
So many places to write for, so little time!
As a startup writer, I tried to do everything. This cost me lots of time, and probably some money. Here’s what I had going on.
- I continued to look for a regular job. Early on, before I knew I could make a living writing, I kept looking for “real” work. The online application process is very onerous, and it took months before I realized I needed to stop. Employers have gigantic application forms, and some even want you to record a video before they’ll even speak to you. Considering that the offers I received were ridiculously paltry, I ended the quest for a day job. But, 3 months had gone by.
- I signed up for every content mill that I could find. In the beginning, it was refreshing to write for Textbroker and receive my first paycheck. They also offered feedback on my writing, and I quickly learned to put commas in the right places (most of the time). I also signed up for WriterAccess which paid way better than Textbroker, but alas, they did not have enough work. I signed up with HireWriters, but never did anything with them because they paid ½ cent per word. This process also took time. There were writing tests and profiles to complete. It also meant that I was writing every day, a good thing, but for very, very little money.
- I signed up with Rev.com. This is a huge and credible transcribing company. I made about 77 bucks before I realized that if I had to listen to one more inaudible, accented voice, I would kill myself. A ten minute conversation took me an hour to transcribe. My average hourly rate was $7.00. Not horrible if you’re starving, but it wasn’t the writing job I envisioned.
New Writer – Biggest Mistake, Freelancer.com
- I searched for work on Freelancer.com and Guru.com. There are some people out there who swear by Guru, but I never could understand why. On Guru, I had been accepted for a project by some unknown employer, and never got paid. After churning out 4 articles, I demanded payment, and the person fell behind the obscurity curtain of the internet.
Freelancer.com might just be the biggest scam writers can fall into. I was hired (again by another anonymous person called SEOMart), and I cranked out 8 articles. Freelancer.com automatically sent out an invoice to SEO, and after that, my project was cancelled. I emailed Freelancer to find out why they would cancel a project when there was an invoice and tangible work product associated with that project. But, they never replied. My advice is not to sign up with any of these folks. I spent weeks writing for free.
And I kept on going….
- I applied for every writing job I could find on the internet. There are lots of jobs out there, but the application process is as bad as when you’re looking for “real” work. No one gets back to you. You often have to take tests, provide specific writing samples as dictated by the employer, and pitch ideas for their businesses. I felt that the applications were designed by crafty employers who were looking for new ideas, and didn’t want to pay for them.
- I wrote and pitched articles to big name websites like Huffington Post. Now, this may seem like a constructive way to start off your writing career, and it is. Remember that my problem was that I was trying to do it all. It was highly unlikely I was going to get published by a big name since I didn’t put all my energy into it. How could I when I was too busy writing articles about no-credit loans and vacation rentals for Textbroker?
- I blogged on sites like HubPages. I wanted to try to get my name out there, and figured that free blogging sites could help pull me out of obscurity. Unfortunately HubPages accepted my blog, I made one change, and then they rejected the blog. I wasn’t clear on what they wanted, and gave up on this endeavor. But, that was after wasting several days.
- I set up my own website, kardwellconsulting.com. Here I could post my blogs freely, and even see if I could drum up some residual income by joining some affiliate programs. Though now I was able to blog whenever, and on whatever I felt like, this website wasn’t making any money. Not a penny. In addition to the writing, I was also the technical person learning WordPress as I went along. Not to mention all the research into driving traffic and marketing techniques.
New Writer – Biggest Mistake (corrected)
At the end of 6 months I grew weary, and also a wee bit paranoid. Every potential lead seemed like a potential scam to me. I finally realized that instead of trying to do it all, I would need to focus on two things, and only two things. What I chose was to pitch to big name websites, and continue working on my blog site. I set aside all the other things so I could focus.
When you’re trying to break into writing, my advice is not to try to do it all. Writing needs to become your business, and you need to have clear goals and plans. Do not sell yourself short. Get your priorities straight and don’t dilute your day with busy work. A crystal clear vision will, at the very least, set you up for success.