Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash
Now in my third of freelance writing, I occasionally catch myself turning down potential clients and invitations to interview for no discernible reason. I’ve been burned more than a handful of times–as many freelancers have–both before and after I’ve done the requested work, so I can be a little quick to judge.
On one hand, just because something sends up a red flag doesn’t mean the client will drag me through the mud if I give them a chance. On the other, finding new work is a large percentage of freelancing, so it’s important not to spread yourself thin if you know the client won’t be a good fit.
So how do you know a potential freelance client is worth pursuing? And once you get started, how do you welcome a potential client while clearly communicating your needs?
UpWork was (and still is) an excellent resource for my freelancing career. However, whenever I speak to new writers looking to break off into freelancing, I say, “There are a lot of garbage job posts out there. Same as any other site, you just have to sort through them to find the good ones.”
Though you may never know if you’re a perfect fit with a client until after an interview or initial assignment, you can pick up on a few clues before getting started. So if you’re just jumping in (or if you’re a freelance veteran and have some to add), take a look at these red-flag job posts I’ve learned to avoid.
This is more of a practical post for a change. I’ve had a few people reach out to see how freelance writing was going, so I’ve written a a rundown of my experience in the first full year.
Also, if you’re one of the many people who found this blog over the holiday season by Googling “Barbie Dream House” because of my old post from 2017, welcome! I hope you found the gift you were looking for.
Whenever I head into the holiday party season, I try to think of a succinct way to sum up the past 12 months of my life. This way, I can quickly answer the “so, how you’ve been?” small-talk question that often makes me freeze up, forget my name, and make the other person wonder what they possibly said to deserve the look I’m giving them. I had a particularly hard time figuring out what to say this year. The past 12 months have been a strange blur. We moved apartments, we saved our sick cat, I broke my toe. I dealt with one of my longest and darkest dips of depression I’ve dealt with in a while–hence the lack of blog posts. Honestly, it was a really weird, hard year, and I’m incredibly relieved to head into a new calendar with new exciting projects ahead.
Despite all the garbage, one reason the year was such a hot mess is that I was finding my footing in a freelancing life. And you know? I think I may have temporarily found it. I’ve had a few people contact me about how to become a freelance writer, and up until now, I’ve really just wanted to yell, “RUN! DON’T DO IT! IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!” But I can chat with a clear head now. So I’ve been meaning to put everything I’ve learned in a post, just in case it helps anyone move in the same direction.
Here are the common questions I get about being a freelance writer:
I’ve found that writing a book about an incredibly long hike often mirrors the metaphors of hiking the darn thing itself. Look back too often at where you came from, and you get wrapped up in premature editing. But an occasional healthy glance at where you started reminds you of your progress.
Last fall, I trudged through 85 pages of what essentially became free writing. It’s not all unusable but I did find that I ended up with a whole lot of boring writing that didn’t come from an honest place. Now, with new structure, I’m trying to hike my way through the pages themselves—starting with St. Jean Pied du Port and straight on to Santiago. I’m not allowing myself to veer off to discuss childhood memories or side stories no matter how tempting it may be. I will write what happened, as much as I can remember, and that will be that. Then, after reaching the end, I’ll weave in the stories that make the book about me, about why I went. That should work, right?
So far, not so much. I’m on page 14 of single-spaced writing and I’m only about 2 hours into my first day of hiking. Unlike a day at the office or even a day on vacation, time slows to a snail’s pace when hiking. So much happens over a period of 24 hours. And without a clear story of WHY I’m writing about all this yet, how do I know what to include and what to skip over? 14 pages on one day is too much to do to a reader. Continue reading