Lessons for Freelance Writers Competing in Our Gig Economy
By Dee Dee Thompson
When I decided to start freelance content writing back in December 2018, I’d just gotten fired from a sales role after only five weeks.
Honestly, it was the best news ever (I hated that job), but I still worried about my finances and scrambled to find anyone that would hire me before the New Year.
I knew I no longer wanted to rely on traditional employment to make sure money was coming in, and I made mistakes along the way, but the lessons I learned have made me a better writer.
Let’s see if they can do the same for you:
Find a Niche
Join our weekly newsletter so we can send you awesome freebies, weird events, incredible articles, and gold doubloons (note: one of these is not true).
Having a niche does two things; it simplifies the writing process and avoids the hassle of doing jobs that require expertise on a subject you don’t know or care about.
I’ve had plenty of writing jobs where I’ve spent way more time researching than doing any actual writing… and although my clients were usually happy with the result, I knew I wasn’t giving them the level of work they deserved from someone more competent in that subject.
Although I’m still figuring out my niche, experience has taught me that I have no business writing about sports, finance, real estate, or legal services. For me, those topics require more effort than they are worth.
Read Everything. And I Mean Everything.
One of my friends suggested that I reach out to former clients to request a LinkedIn recommendation. It sounded like a great idea; they already liked my work, so I figured they wouldn’t mind extending the praise to a larger network to help me get more work. I even offered a discount on a future service for writing the recommendation.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get far before Fiverr (the platform I was using) flagged my messages for violating the Terms of Services. Apparently, you are prohibited from attempting to reach out to clients outside of Fiverr (unless it’s related to the project you’re working on) and I had no idea because I didn’t bother to read the Terms of Service.
It was a terrifying experience considering that at the time, Fiverr was my only income source for freelancing. I ended up getting off without a warning, but I learned how important it is to look over everything.
Bonus lesson: Diversify your writing income, so you’re not relying on one platform to make money.
Be Ready for Clients that Don’t Know What They Want
I deal with this a lot. People just starting their blogs or business often don’t know what to look for in their content.
I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it was to get messages like “I need a few different bios for a few different pages” and other vague requests with zero context and high expectations.
When I can’t fill in the blanks with research, I ask as many questions as possible to get the info I need to move forward. Luckily, people love talking about themselves, so I usually end up with more info than I need in the end.
Just don’t waste time asking questions that can be answered in a Google search. After all, researching is a part of the writing process.