5 Deadly Sins of Freelance Career

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As a freelancer, there may be times when you find yourself in a position where your brand makes a promise which, for whatever reason, you are unable to keep. It happens. Computers crash, the kids get sick, a polar vortex causes your house to lose power. How you handle the fallout from your failure to deliver can make the difference between running a successful freelance writing business and running your freelance business into the ground.

Reputation & Money

Your reputation directly affects your freelance writing income. When working on platforms like Upwork and Guru, customers are encouraged to leave feedback and performance ratings after you complete work for them. Several lukewarm reviews that peg you as mediocre or incompetent and your opportunities to win jobs on these platforms dry up.

Few employers are looking to hire writers with B-grade or C-grade feedback. On Upwork, a provider with a cumulative performance score of anything less than 4.7 out of 5 stars is well on her way to being unhireable. Some job postings require bidders to have minimum ratings before they can even be considered for a writing job. There’s no question about it – a good reputation will translate into more money.

The 5 Deadly Sins

We’re not talking about anything as lousy as taking someone’s money then not delivering on a job. We’re talking about everyday missteps on your road to success. These are the actions, inactions and habits that can foil the success of even the most talented freelance writer.

  1. Bidding on a job too hastily – You want the job, so you scan the job posting or breeze through the initial consultation with the client, only to find out once you’ve taken the job that it requires far more work than what you’ve billed the client for and far more work that you’ve carved out time in your schedule to do. Always get a clear understanding of the full scope of a job before submitting your bid.
  2. Missing deadlines – It happens. You get a job and for whatever reason, you miss the project deadline. This is not uncommon in the writing business, but make it uncommon for you. If you are going to miss the deadline, be sure to notify your client ahead of time. Don’t wait until 11:59PM on the night of the deadline to say, “It ain’t gonna happen.”
  3. Going silent -This horrible business habit will strike fear in the heart of most any employer. Extend the professional courtesy of keeping your clients in the loop at all times. This is particularly true if you miss a deadline or run into other trouble. Never ever go silent on a client.
  4. Being in breach of a Non-Disclosure Agreement – Sometimes in an effort to protect themselves and their trade secrets, clients will draft NDAs and ask you to sign them. READ THE AGREEMENT. Some NDAs ask you to make commitments that may hurt your business in the long run. If you cannot keep a clause in the agreement, ask the employer to modify or remove the clause. If he or she will not, move on to the next job.
  5. Outsourcing to sub-par writers – We all want to be able to say we’re operating with a team of writers. But if a client has hired you for your unique talent, style and voice, it will immediately be apparent if you outsource the work to a writer who is not as good a writer as you are. Make it clear at the onset that you work with a team. If the employer wants you to do the writing personally, price the job accordingly and DO THE WRITING.

As a freelance writer, your livelihood thrives on your reputation – your ability to build a brand that makes and consistently delivers on a promise. The more you adhere to that truth, the more profitable your business will be.