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Freelance Writing Experiences and Mistakes

Hard Lessons Part One

Freelance writing can be a tough enterprise – not for the faint of heart, in other words. Especially for those freelance writers just starting, the number of mistakes will typically far outweigh the numbers of successes. For freelance writers, there are a few mistakes that are very important to make, if for no other reason than they grow you as a professional.

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One of the most important mistakes that a freelance writer should make is to have at least one experience of significantly undercharging for an assignment and underestimating the amount of time it will take to complete that assignment. Typically, this happens in the early stages of your freelance writing career. You are so excited to get a job that you agree to less than viable terms. There is a cluster of important mistakes associated with undercharging that will be beneficial to the freelance writer in the long term, although in the short term they will be exceedingly painful and stressful.

The freelance writer who undercharges quickly learns that working for one dollar an hour is incredibly demoralizing. By underestimating the amount of time necessary to complete the assignment, the freelance writer struggles to complete it on time, and in some cases will end up being paid for only half the amount of work he or she does, because at the final tally it takes him or her over fifty percent longer to complete the assignment than anticipated. So why would such an experience be useful? Why should the freelance writer make such a costly mistake?

Number One: Undercharging teaches the freelance writer, in no uncertain terms, the value of his or her time, talent, and expertise. The only way to learn what you are truly worth as a freelance writer is to have it sorely tested.

Number Two: Undercharging teaches the freelance writer what he or she can do in incredibly difficult circumstances. While this experience feels less than ideal while it is happening, after undercharging and losing a tremendous amount of money, the freelance writer now has had his or her mettle tested, and gains several benefits. He or she now knows the exact amount of money he or she must be paid on an hourly basis to turn a profit in his or her business. He or she also knows exactly how efficient he or she can be. The drive to complete the undercharged assignment and still make money on it has indirectly taught the freelance writer how to maximize his or her efficiency.

Hard Lessons Part Two

One of the most important mistakes that a freelance writer should make is to be fired from a job for non-comprehension of the task, poor writing style, customer dissatisfaction, or prolonged miscommunication. This mistake might appear to be one that the freelance writer should avoid in all cases, and of course, no freelance writer ever sets out to be fired. However, there is a certain value to failure. It teaches the freelance writer that he or she can survive the worst possible outcome; the reason this mistake benefits the freelance writer is he or she understands why the jobs were lost, and learns techniques to ensure that it never happens again. Being fired from a freelance job, therefore, builds resiliency and fortitude and motivates the freelance writer to succeed.

Another important mistake that the freelance writer should make is to experience what it is like to be plagiarized and not receive payment. Some customers – the more unscrupulous among them to be sure, but they do exist – will reuse or repurpose the freelance writer’s work with no additional payment.

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The reason why this mistake benefits the freelance writer is twofold: it teaches him or her the ability to sniff out shady clients, the types of clients who do not value the time and effort it takes to create a piece of writing, and imparts the ability to avoid these types of clients in the future. Secondly, when the freelance writer experiences the mistake of having his or her work plagiarized, he or she develops the awareness and skills necessary to protect his or her work in the future and implements procedures in his or her own business to recoup whatever losses may result from plagiarism or unpaid repurposing of content.

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