12 Challenges an Excellent Freelance Writer Has to Overcome

writingBeing a freelance writer is a job I’ve always wanted to do. It’s my dream job. I love writing and being able to travel so becoming a writer is a great combination.

However, I’m discovering it’s not as easy as it looks. The job has its challenges. Some of which are easy to overcome if you work hard enough.

1. Finding clients

Finding clients is the hardest challenge. If you can’t find clients, you won’t make money. If you don’t make money, you can’t pay the bills unless you have a spouse or significant other. Unfortunately, I’m the breadwinner for my family so I have to have clients.

You have to know where to look for clients. Some places I look include the following:

  • Google — search in your niche and cold pitch
  • Various job boards — like Problogger and BloggingPro
  • Upwork alternatives — such as Cloudpeeps and Zerys

You can always look for blogs and publications and pitch ideas as well.

2. Time

Some of you may still work outside the home. If you don’t, then you might have other family members, like children and pets, that depend upon you. Then there’s the usual stuff — cooking meals, laundry, and cleaning.

Not only do you need time to do the work, but you have to balance your time as well.

3. Getting ideas

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have clients who know what they want you to write. However, if you’re pitching ideas to blogs and publications, then you’ve must have ideas.

Ideas are all around you. Here are a few places you can look to get started:

  • Topics that are trending
  • Newspapers/TV/Magazines
  • Personal experience
  • Conversation

4. Distractions

Chances are you work from home so you do have household obligations, as I mentioned above, you can’t let them distract you from writing.

If you have clients, then you can’t miss deadlines, and you want to do a great job. When you’re first starting out, you want happy clients, ones you can use for testimonials.

5. Procrastination

Going along with #4, you must get the job done. You can’t wait until the last minute and write an article. If you have a deadline, then get the job done and turned in early if you can.

The editing jobs I’ve done I always try to get done before the deadline. And I usually do. Besides, if you get the work done early, then you can reward yourself when you get paid.

6. Lack of confidence

Starting out as a freelancer, you may not feel confident about the job you do. You may think you don’t have the right skills to do a job.

But you do. If you want to be a freelance writer, you must be positive and push forward.

7. Marketing

Like all businesses, you must work at your freelance business. You must build your brand by having a website and a social media presence.

Marketing takes time. The sooner you get started the better off you will be.

I try to spend a little time each day marketing my own business. I post on Twitter mostly, but I have a profile on LinkedIn as well for the freelancing.

8. Getting paid

Sometimes in the freelance world, you don’t get paid, or you don’t get paid in a timely manner. You need to think of ways to make sure you do get paid. For instance, you could have a contract spelling out exactly how the payments are supposed to work. This won’t guarantee that you get paid, but at least you have something in writing.

I have signed contracts from a couple of clients that I’ve worked with. But I have never had a real problem getting paid. I know other freelancers who shared horror stories about doing lots of work and not getting paid for it. I advise that you avoid scams and make sure you have that contract in place.

9. Loneliness

Being a freelancer means that you are in a lonely business. However, there are ways that you can avoid this loneliness. You can join groups on Facebook or Twitter. You can network with other freelancers. You can join business groups in your town or find writing groups where you can share ideas.

I belong to several groups on Facebook, and I have interacted with people in those groups. I’ve met writers from all over the world. I used to belong to a writing group here in my small town, but the group has no longer meets.

10. Lack of experience

Freelancing sometimes makes you feel like you have a lack of experience if you don’t have many samples to offer a client. This lack of confidence keeps you from going after what you really want, and that is to write. You need to gain your confidence, which will in turn help you gain clients or help you to work towards gaining the experience when you get jobs.

When I first started freelancing, I didn’t have many recent clips. I had clips from when I had written for a couple of local newspapers. However, I wanted new newer clips to show clients now.

I have now published or contributed to the Huffington Post as well as a website called We Said Go Travel. Both of these websites are good ones and have given me good clips for my portfolio.

11. Budgeting money

As a freelancer, you may have periods where you aren’t earning much money. If you’re the breadwinner in the family like I am, then you’ll have to budget your money for the months that you are earning money. Sometimes this is hard to do, though.

When you’re first starting out, you may have to get another job outside the home as a part-time worker. This would give you more steady income until you can get your freelance business off the ground.

As I continue building my own freelance business, I am still working outside the home for the school district. This gives me the opportunity to have school hours and be home with time to work my business as well as have vacations off to give me plenty of extra time.

12. Dealing with difficult clients

Just like with getting paid, freelancers do sometimes have to deal with difficult clients. These clients may ask you to do things that you were not supposed to do. Again, make sure you have that contract in place so you know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.

I haven’t had the opportunity to work with a difficult client, but I’ve heard horror stories. I’ve heard about clients asking writers to redo things several times or nitpick about other things that they’ve written. All you can do is make sure that you’re clear what you’re supposed to write.

Do you have any other challenge that a freelancer must deal with? If so, please share!
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