We have all been there, starting somewhere completely new and we end up making the silliest mistakes. But our mistakes are what make us learn and transform us into the person we are today. When I started taking freelance writing jobs, it felt as embarrassing as my first day of school when I fell from a flight of stairs and pretended like nothing happened. ( It really did hurt, a lot!)
- Going back and forth on price
When you are new to this, you don’t really know what to charge. There was a time when I asked for a particular amount and when the client actually agreed, I realized it was too low for the amount of work and time I would have to put. And then ofcourse, I asked for a completely different price.
This obviously made some clients furious and made them feel like I was unprofessional. I don’t even need to tell you how all those projects ended. Never do this, put up a fixed price and stick to it. Only change on your amount when the clients adds some extra information you didn’t know before.
- Asking about money before the project details
This is another huge mistake that makes you look unprofessional and I have seen a lot of people do this. People tend to ask about the money even before they have all the project details with them.
Let me put it this way, how can you quote an amount to a client before you even know what you have to do in the project. Giving a random amount would just make you look like a money hoarder, who does not care about writing at all.
Be patient, ask the client about all the details there is about the project, evaluate how much effort and time it requires and then quote your price.
- Telling the client you don’t trust people
If you are asking the client for money, way before he has even decided to assign you the work, you are probably not going to get the work. This is especially the case with Indian freelance writers, at least that’s what I have seen. Most of the websites that list down freelancing jobs, give you escrow protection.
But if you are dealing with the client directly, then I would suggest asking for an initial payment nicely. Only when everything is finalized and done, that is when you gently ask them for an initial payment of 1-2 articles to ‘build trust’. Alternatively, you can go check their online profiles on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin to verify if they are legit. Always ask for a client’s public profile when you are connecting with him.
- Giving no samples or too many extra samples
You cannot expect to get a job if the client doesn’t know how you write. Provide some ‘suitable’ samples for the client to have a look and decide. There might also be situations when the client is not sure about you and would ask you to write a whole article as a sample.
I wouldn’t suggest doing that, at all. The kind of people who do this probably ask for samples from all the freelancers they have in contact and there, they have a full compilation of articles without even dropping a penny. If it’s really necessary, write a 150-200 word sample, but that is it. Never go beyond that.
- Providing clients with a copy/paste proposal
So you wrote this brilliant introduction about how amazing writer you are and no doubt it would be good but you cannot really copy/paste it and send it to every client.
Every client is different with different requirements and you have to deal with them in different ways. Pay attention to what the client actually needs and what he is looking for and alter your proposal accordingly.
- Over promising and under delivering
This is something you should never do, it will never ever leave a good or even a neutral impact on your client. Focus on under promising and over delivering.
Don’t be all ‘I am so great, you would never find a writer like’. Nobody likes a smug. Be polite, humble. And this is something that will work for you everywhere and not just the freelance writing business.
- Lack of communication with the client
Don’t just take up the work and disappear for a week with no communication with the client. Keep him updated, take his inputs wherever needed. Do not just assume things and do it your way. If the client doesn’t like it, you would have to do the whole thing over again. So always keep the client in loop
Hope you learned a little with me here. I can assure you I have made each of these mistakes at least once and felt like a fool. And now that I think about it, it wasn’t so bad. Every mistake is a new stepping stone.