What I’ve Learned in Three Months as a Freelance Writer

I began freelance writing in the end of November, 2015. I kind of fell into it, to be honest. I made a profile on Upwork.com and was surprised when I started getting job offers. The opportunity to work from home writing website copy, sales emails, blog posts, and articles has been a tremendous blessing. I love working in my own space even more than I thought I would!

During these three months as a freelance writer, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. There’s no way I could have known these things before, and I’m certain that many more lessons will come my way before summer begins and little Grey (!) is born.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the past three months.

1) Write Quickly

The ability to write quickly is essential to getting paid quickly. Most clients pay freelance writers by the word count, which means that if you’re able to knock out more words per hour, you’ll get paid more per hour. Not only should your hourly word count be as high as possible, but you should also strive to maintain high-quality writing output.

Don’t be afraid to take a step back, work on something else, and then come back to a piece. I’ve often done this when I feel stumped. Words tend to come more quickly when I look at a draft with fresh eyes.

Clients LOVE IT when you return finished work in a timely manner. It will boost your rapport, help your ratings, and ensure that more work comes pouring in for you. Don’t wait until the established “deadline” to finish a project. Try to establish a realistic (but ambitious) turn-around time and stick to it flawlessly. Make quickness a top priority in your daily work life.

2) Communicate Clearly with Clients

I worked with a client on a product review in the month of December. Because I’d had several clients before who didn’t give me much instruction and were still pleased with the work I did, I didn’t think to make sure I understood this particular client’s desires. I submitted the product review (which was rather long and required some research) and the client had a lot of edits. There were many things that needed to be changed because the client was expecting something different.

The misunderstanding created a lot of mixed feelings and wasted time for me and probably a great deal of frustration for the client. I believe the client would have given me more work if our collaboration had been easier. I wish I had been more proactive in learning what was expected in the project.

3) Cut off Time-Wasting Work

When you’re a freelance writer, there will be a lot of people who will try to hire you for pennies per hour. Sometimes you have to pay your dues and work for little pay just to gain experience, but you should be able to pay your own bills. I’ve had a client since December who not only pays better than any other clients I’ve had, but is also always ready with more work when I complete an assignment. I made the mistake in the last few months of putting work from this client on the back-burner and focusing on the lower-paying work just because I found the lower-paying work enjoyable.

Instead of knocking out writing assignments from the high-paying client long before the established deadline, I would work endlessly on the other articles, trying (and failing) to increase my speed and research time. If I had realized how pointless this cycle had been, I would have worked harder at keeping my higher-paying client happy and satisfied with my work.

4) Rest When You Need To

It’s easy to get burnt out when you work from home. Your work space is also the place in which you relax, eat, and sleep. If you need a rest from work, sometimes the best way to get that is to leave home. There will always be laundry, dishes, and cleaning at home, too. If you catch yourself feeling unmotivated, try taking a day off to spend time shopping, eating out, or just strolling through the neighborhood.

When you return to your at-home desk, review your career goals and make a clear-headed, well-rested plan to keep going.

5) Keep Moving Forward

Always move forward. Don’t allow any minor project to keep you from moving forward as a writer. If you see that your labor is not profitable in one area, move on to the next. You haven’t failed; you’re just experiencing growing pains.

If you’re looking into a career as a freelance writer, I hope these lessons will help you to avoid some of the hurdles I’ve run into so far. Do you have anything you’d like to add to this list? Is there something you do to keep yourself motivated as you work from home? Please share! I’d love to hear from you.