Tag: freelance writing

Does Being Young Give You a Disadvantage in the Freelance World?

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For the most part, I’d say no.

Most clients don’t care how old you are; all they care about is that you can do quality work and turn it in on time. That’s why you shouldn’t be scared to pitch your services to potential clients if you are young and new to the freelance world. After all, you have to start somewhere.

Experience Is More Important than Age

That being said, experience does help you get more work and at higher pay rates because you can show potential clients examples of your work and previous success. However, experience does not equal age and most clients understand this. Some people don’t become freelancers until much later in life. At age 25, you could have more experience in the writing field than someone who is 50+.

When you’re young, you should concentration on getting experience so that you can quickly earn more money and find better clients. Building an online portfolio of work is one of the best ways to show your experience to potential clients. Once you have some experience, being young won’t even be on your mind anymore.

When Age Does Matter

The only time age matters in the freelance world is when you meet a client face to face. People automatically get nervous when they see someone who looks too young to be a professional. It’s against the law to discriminate against people for race, religion, gender, or age, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it since there are relatively few ways to prove it actually happened. For example, I experienced some age discrimination when I was 25 and on my first business trip.

I worked for an information design firm on a project basis and was assigned to work on a business proposal that had a tight deadline. The client wanted me to fly out to Pennsylvania to work with the team face to face to make the project move quicker. I had worked for the client several times before the trip without any problems. However, when I got to Pennsylvania and met the client, I instantly lost trust and credibility because of my age. After that, the client started to get nervous about my abilities. Luckily, she turned out happy in the end when I did an awesome job and the project resulted in a three million dollar contract for her company.

This just goes to show that as long as you are confident and can deliver quality work, your age doesn’t matter in the freelance world. You just might have to prove that to your clients if you ever meet them face to face.

Clients Don’t Usually Know How Old You Are

Another thing to consider is that most of your clients will never see you face to face. This means you will be judged on your skills and abilities instead of preconceived ideas about your age. There’s really no reason to bring up your age with a potential client.

Ok, so you might be thinking, “What about online profiles?” Potential clients can see those.

Basically, you don’t want to make your age an issue. For instance, if you’re fresh out of college, I wouldn’t post a picture of yourself on your website that makes you look younger than you are. Make sure you always look professional. If you carefully choose all of your photos on social networks, you can avoid the “too young” scenario.

Have you been discriminated against because of your age in the freelance world? Share your experience in the comments below.

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Never Work for Friends or Family

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I’m always looking for more work, but I will never work for friends or family again. I suggest you do the same.

Don’t get me wrong; I will do writing/editing favors for friends and family, such as editing a school paper. I just won’t enter into a work relationship that involves compensation. That pretty much means no major projects that require tons of time.

Let me tell you why…

  • It Ruins Relationships
  • You May Never Get Paid
  • You Can’t Charge What You Want

How I Learned the Hard Way

My neighbor lost his job, which prompted him to take a break from the corporate grind and try something different. He decided to launch a coaching website where he would help people build their resume and find work. He wrote an entire motivational course about how to market your skills to employers and land an awesome job. The plan was to sell a subscription to the motivational course.

After writing the course, my neighbor needed an editor and solicited my services. I gave him a great deal since his wife was my friend ($0.01/ word). I edited the entire course and was compensated as we had agreed.

My neighbor loved my work and decided to pull me onto another one of his endeavors. It was another website, but service oriented instead of subscription based. I obliged since the first project went so well and I didn’t think there would be any problems with the second one… I was wrong.

I edited some website content for him and then never heard back. I sent follow-up emails for three consecutive weeks and he entirely ignored them. My phone calls were also being screened. My neighbor practically disappeared — he didn’t show up to church, I never saw him outside, and I lost all communication with him. Eventually, he ended up moving to another state, and I can’t help but wonder if it was partially because he was avoiding me.

I only ended up losing about $300 on the project, but that’s enough to make me upset.

The weird thing was that my neighbor’s wife still acted completely normal to me. I’m assuming she had no idea what was happening. I guess I could have been vocal to her in hopes of getting compensated, but I didn’t want to ruin that relationship, too. Plus, I knew her family was having a hard time financially while my neighbor was getting his business going. That’s what makes working for friends and family so hard — you feel bad about taking their money, but at the same time it hurts your business.

Have you had any bad experiences working for friends or family? Share them in the comments below.

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Do You Have What It Takes to Be Successful as a Freelance Writer?

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Lots of people want to make freelance writing a career, but few are actually able to make it happen. This is because it takes a special kind of person with the right drive and motivation. Simply knowing how to write is not enough — you must be willing to market yourself. If you’re interested in pursuing freelance writing as a career, let us help you determine whether it is a good choice for you or not.

Your Writing and Editing Skills Need to Be Top Notch

Firstly, you need to know how to write and be good at it. I worked several years as an editor for a content mill, and I often came across writers who shouldn’t really be writers. What I mean is that their writing and editing skills were not anywhere near a professional level. To truly be successful as a freelance writer, you need impeccable skills. This takes both practice and education. You don’t have to have a degree in English, but you do have to be a good writer. So, don’t jump into the freelance writing life before you are confident that you can write coherent sentences that flow from one paragraph to the next.

Editors shouldn’t have to spend hours rewriting sentences and adding flow to your content pieces. That’s a major problem with content mills — they will let anyone be a writer. This gives many people false hope that they can make freelance writing a career. I started to notice that the better writers didn’t stay with the content mills long. This is because good writers move on to higher paying gigs. If you can break free from content mills, you can make freelance writing a career instead of a hobby. Now, I don’t want to entirely bash content mills. They are a good place for new writers to test the waters in terms of their skills and interest in freelance writing.

You Can’t Be Afraid to Market Yourself to Clients

Once you have the writing and editing skills down, you need to put yourself out there. You can’t be afraid to market your writing abilities to potential clients. For the most part, clients won’t just fall into your lap. Many people who hope to become freelance writers have unrealistic expectations about the work load. They think they will spend most of their time writing, when in fact a good portion of their time will actually have to go towards marketing their skills and expertise.

In the beginning of your freelance writing career, you’ll probably spend more than half of your time marketing yourself. This includes things such as sending query letters, sharing your portfolio, and networking with professionals in your industry. Once you’ve established a client base, you won’t have to spend as much time on marketing. However, you’ll always have to dedicate time to maintaining client relationships so that the work continues to pour in. Writing isn’t simply about expressing your opinions; you have to make your clients happy.

A lot of people lack the courage to market their writing skills. This could be for any number of reasons, such as being afraid of rejection or making excuses for a small portfolio. To be successful as a freelance writer, you must be willing to take chances and out your writing skills in front of potential clients.

You Need to Have Self Motivation

Once you start getting a chunk of work, you need to find the self motivation to get it done in a timely manner. I’m not talking about overcoming procrastination; I’m talking about finding the balance between pay and effort. For instance, if you’re being paid $100 to write an article for an online publication, but you spend 10 hours or more writing, you wouldn’t have a very good hourly rate. Freelance writers have to be good at monitoring their time. Of course, you don’t want the quality of your work to suffer, either. This means you should never take a freelance writing gig that does not pay you what you’re worth because you will lose the motivation to get it done.

I’ve never met a freelance writer that didn’t have a problem with procrastination to some extent. As an editor, I rarely saw articles come in more than a day before their deadline, even if they were assigned two to three weeks in advance. Personally, I find deadlines a great source of self motivation. I can see the amount of time I have to complete the assignment and this keeps me motivated and on task. When I’m working on something that isn’t due for a while, I have more of a tendency to check emails, visit Facebook, and do other things online that waste time that I could have spent writing.

People who procrastinate can still be good writers. If you are a habitual procrastination, just make sure that you leave enough time to finish your projects before the deadline. You won’t make it in the freelance writing world very long if you miss deadlines. You can probably get away with it a few times, but clients will notice and you’ll lose work. Self motivation is about being able to overcome procrastination when it is needed.

Are you self motivated, willing to market yourself, and confident in your writing and editing skills? These are the three most important traits to being successful as a freelance writer. What other traits do you think would be helpful to a freelance writer? Leave a comment below.

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