Top 8 Mistakes New Freelance Writers Make…and How to Avoid Them

Listen, everybody makes mistakes, especially when you’re just starting out in a new career. The entire reason I know about these top 8 mistakes that freelance Writers  make is because I made most of them myself!


It’s not important how badly you mess up, but how quickly you learn from it.

If you’re a new freelance writer and having trouble finding or keeping writing gigs, it could very well be from one of these easily fixable mistakes.

The 8 Mistakes New Freelancer Writers Make

1.    Your Pitch Letter is Weak

A strong pitch is your first impression. Be honest, but do not lay all your cards on the table! In other words, there’s no need to tell a client you’re new or inexperienced. If your samples are good, you don’t need to give them a reason to doubt.

If you need help developing your pitch, check out this blog post.

2.    You Don’t Use Proper Formatting

Once you’ve landed the gig, you’ll want to impress your client, and one of the things new writers often fail to do is format their posts correctly.

Blog posts should be broken up with headings and to format those headings, you should be using actual heading formatting located at the top of your Word program. Simply bolding your titles and headings creates more work for your client, which is what they’re trying to avoid by hiring a writer in the first place!

3.    You Only Pitch When You Run Out of Work

Yikes! We all have dry spells, so don’t make the mistake of slowing down your pitching process when you have a few clients. Make sure you have a process in place for pitching new job ads or cold-pitching weekly.

4.    You Talk Too Much About Yourself

This can be either in your pitch or an interview. I remember in one of my first interviews, I was so nervous that I rambled on about myself and everything I could and couldn’t do.

I never heard back from that client!

Clients do want to know what you can do, but they also want you to show an interest in their brand and ask some good questions. This shows them that you have their interests in mind.

5.    You Don’t Have a Website

Can you have an online portfolio without a website? Sure! There are lots of places like Contently where you can house your professional portfolio, and you could even land a few clients with it. It’s not unheard of.

But I can tell you without a doubt that one of the reasons for my success is that I have my own branded website. And the funny thing is that from my analytics, most potential clients don’t even visit it, but I have had some tell me they were impressed with the fact that I had one. It just gives you a professional presence and makes you stand out a little from the hundreds of other applicants.

6.    You Have No Social Media Presence

Look, I’ll be the first to tell you…I’m not a huge fan of most social media (it’s our little secret), except for Pinterest. I absolutely adore everything about Pinterest and rock the heck out of it for blog traffic for my clients.

But ask me about Twitter and my eyes glaze over. The point is you don’t have to use all the social media platforms. Heck, you don’t even have to use more than one in my opinion. But find one or two you like and learn everything you can about them.

7.    You Don’t Treat Your Freelance Writing Like a Job

I’m not gonna lie – this one’s hard, especially if you’re still working a day job. It’s not easy to make yourself “clock in” and treat this like real work when you’re first starting out. If you’re not used to working at home, this could feel more like and hobby and something you work on just when you feel like it.

Don’t fall into that trap! Figure out a way right from the beginning to schedule it in, whether it’s creating a specific space just for writing, or blocking off and guarding your work hours just like you are going to the office.

8.    You Suffer from Information Overload

That’s right. You can actually learn too much. Okay, maybe you can’t learn too much, but you can certainly try to cram too much information into too short of a time span. There is a time to learn and read all you can, but there is also a time to take the leap and use what you know.

You’ll make mistakes no matter how much you learn, so why not get started now and correct those along the way.

You’re All Set!

Now that you know the most common mistakes of new freelance writers, you can start your business with the confidence that you know how to avoid them. There’s no time like now to begin, and if you need a little help along the way, don’t be afraid to drop me a line. I’m always available for advice!

This is a guest post from Cheri Read, a single mom, entrepreneur and freelance writer for hire. You can find out more about her or her services over at

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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