A career in freelance writing is an art and a form of self-expression where creativity makes your mind wonder.
However, when writing is your full-time job, you can’t rely on creativity or wait for a lightning bolt of inspiration. In the freelance writing industry, your work must always be high-quality. But how can you do that with so many obstacles in your way?
In this article, I’ll show you the most common freelance writing challenges every freelance writer must handle and how you can overcome them.
1. Inconsistent income
Why did I start with such a topic? Usually, this is the first thing that comes to mind when you start your freelance writing career. “What if I don’t get paid?”
Unfortunately, this is probably one of the most common challenges every freelancer must handle. There are many reasons behind an inconsistent income. Whether it’s because you worked on fewer projects or because of your client’s late payment, the fact is that you won’t get the same amount every month.
Not knowing how much and when you’ll get paid can be very stressful when you need to put food on the table. However, there are a few strategies to cope with it.
Building an emergency fund will definitely take the pressure off. You’ll know you’ll cover most expenses even if you don’t get paid for a few months. Also, you’ll be relieved to know that you can face unexpected expenses, such as a car fix or a hospital bill.
Writing a contract with clearly defined payment terms will protect you, if you ever need to hire a lawyer to get paid for your work.
Additionally, you can diversify your freelance income sources. Don’t depend on just one client or project. Do your best to acquire new skills and find new clients. These strategies will be fundamental to keeping the money flowing.
2. Setting rates
Putting a price tag on your work is never easy, especially as a beginner. You’re proud of your work and want to be fairly paid, but you’re afraid of setting rates too high that’ll push your customers away.
Finding the perfect balance is challenging but not impossible. Freelance writing rates depend on the project scope. Before determining a rate, ask your client who’s the target audience, what’s the niche, where it’ll be published, how long the text should be and so on.
These questions will help you understand how complex and lengthy the project will be. You can also research your competition and find out what rates they apply for similar projects.
Alternatively, you can also set your rates based on your expenses. How much do you need to make a decent living? Consider your housing and utility bills, health insurance, transportation, food, clothing and other fixed expenses. This will help you define a minimum wage, meaning you can never charge lower than that.
3. Finding and keeping new clients
Finding clients is challenging when you’re a beginner. Regardless of how good a writer you are, no one knows your work. So, how can you get your first client?
Freelancing platforms are a great way to get started. Platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr or Freelancer post new jobs daily. Many of these jobs focus on beginners looking to build their portfolios. While pitching, aim for projects that are an exact match to your skills. This way, you improve your chances of getting hired.
Online job boards are excellent for finding prospective clients. Indeed, Glassdoor or even LinkedIn offer excellent opportunities to freelance writers.
Moreover, building a content marketing strategy is the answer to putting yourself out there. Start a blog about what you do and be active on social media. The more you show your writing skills, the more likely you’ll get potential clients soon.
Once you get your first client, there’s a new task: keeping them! How?
For me, there are two basic rules for client retention: Always delivering high-quality content and meeting all deadlines! If you guide your work through these two rules, I guarantee you’ll have satisfied clients.
However, competition is fierce, so you need more than that. So, put yourself in your customer’s shoes… How would you like to be treated?
Building strong client relationships will require you to be responsive and professional and use a friendly tone regardless of client expectations. They don’t need to know how much work you have if you’re overwhelmed or tired. These will sound like excuses and make potential clients doubt your work capacity.
4. Learn about marketing
Many freelance writers aren’t aware of how important digital marketing is to their craft. Having a portfolio, applying to writing gigs and being present on social media will help your freelance business, but you need something more.
Learning the basics of digital marketing will help you identify your potential clients and their needs, outline a content strategy and monitor your strategy performance.
Marketing will also help you build a personal brand. Unlike what you might think, this goes beyond creating a logo or writing the perfect catchphrase. Your personal brand is who you are as a writer and how you present yourself to others. Once you get the hang of it, clients will know you for more than your high-quality work.
5. Set your priorities
One of the biggest challenges of working as a freelance writer is juggling multiple projects simultaneously. That’s why you must define what’s more urgent!
Check each project deadline and start with the one you must deliver soon. If you have one complex project and another a bit simpler, attack that one first. That way, you’ll have your mind (and schedule) free to dedicate all your attention to more complicated work.
Building a task calendar and having a regular writing routine might help you define your priorities. This is especially useful if you want to take a few days off. If you write down where you should start next, it’ll be easier when you get back to work.
A focused writing environment and eliminating distractions will help you keep on track. And if your mind starts to wander, unplug all social media and try the Pomodoro Technique (work for 25 minutes and then rest for another 5).
Once you become a successful freelance writer, you can always hire someone and delegate tasks that’ll consume the time you should be focused on your writing process. Hiring an accountant, a marketer or a web designer will free you from those tasks, and you’ll have more time for your clients.
6. Keeping a healthy work-life balance
You might think a freelance career will help you find the perfect work-life balance easily. I regret to inform you couldn’t far from the truth.
Working in the freelance writing business allows you to define your own schedule. However, there’s a catch most people don’t know about. If you work anytime and anywhere, you’ll get sucked into workaholism and not even realize it.
To avoid falling down the rabbit hole, you must define boundaries!
- Define a regular writing routine and a work schedule and inform your clients. You don’t want them contacting you in the middle of the night!
- Reply to your work emails only during your working hours.
- Avoid cutting off time with your friends and family to work.
- Establish work-free days.
- Take time for your hobbies.
Having some time off work and enjoying quality time with your friends and family will avoid loneliness feelings! Besides, your creative juices will flow, and you’ll be more productive and engaged.
7. Battle the Impostor Syndrome
I don’t have any statistics on this matter, but I can almost guarantee all freelancer writers, at some point, have dealt with Impostor Syndrome.
You know what it is… that intense sensation of feeling like a fraud when compared to other high-quality writers and that nothing you do is ever good enough.
I don’t know about you, but I sure had my fair share of Impostor Syndrome, usually when I’m about to deliver a project and waiting for the client’s reply. If they take too long to answer, I always assume the worst!
Fortunately, I’ve found a few strategies to avoid such a feeling. Here’s what I do that’ll help you too:
- Acknowledge how you feel. Usually, talking with others is an excellent first step.
- Write down your accomplishments. After reading it, you might not feel like such a fraud.
- Stop focusing on perfectionism! No one knows everything, nor do they do everything right. Do your best, and everything will be fine!
- Avoid comparing your work with others! Every writer has a unique writing style, so comparing yourself to others is just a waste of time.
- Don’t dwell on social media! Although you’re using it professionally, you might put yourself down instead of finding sources of inspiration from other people’s work.
- Don’t let it hold you back! Write about whatever you want. Your passion will fuel your work, and your readers will notice it!
8. Coping with writer’s block
The dreaded blank page! This a challenge for freelance writers everywhere!
Sometimes you only need a few minutes before getting started. While at other times, you take weeks or months before finding the right words. However, working in the freelance writing business means you must write if you want to put food on the table! You can not afford to spend weeks on end without writing.
How can you turn this around?
Don’t overthink it, and start writing! Your first draft will be sloppy, but the beginning of something remarkable. If this doesn’t work, take a break and do something completely unrelated. It’ll help you be more creative and productive.
Building a creative writing prompt will help you get to the point faster. This way, your writing style will be more concise.
Finally, edit and revise only after the writing project is done. Avoid feeling trapped in the same paragraph or trying to aim for perfection. Who knows… after reading your first draft, it might not be that bad!
9. Dealing with rejection
This is the most frustrating part about providing freelance writing services. You put your heart and soul into your work, and it’s rejected. Unfortunately, hearing a big and round “No” is much more frequent than you might think.
So, how can you deal with rejection and keep your motivation high?
First of all, always reply in a professional and friendly tone. Your work might have been rejected at this time, but who knows… maybe there are new freelance writing opportunities around the corner! And second, try to understand what went wrong. Use your business mindset and learn from your mistakes. It’ll help you improve your writing skills.
Also, accept you’ll hear several “No’s” before hearing your first “Yes”.
10. Not having enough work
This is another freelance writing challenge every freelancer faces now and then. Even with excellent client feedback and a solid client base, there’ll be times when you’ll be almost out of work.
- Use these strategies to avoid not having enough work:
- Don’t rely on just one client. Find more clients from different businesses and build strong client relationships.
- Broaden your skills. It’ll help you find new clients and new projects.
- Gather constructive feedback and testimonials from satisfied customers and post them on your online portfolio and social media.
Your best strategy to avoid the feast and famine cycle is consistency. Find dedicated writing time daily by sending an irresistible pitch and applying to new creative projects. Also, remember to post on social media regularly.
Are you ready to face your own obstacles?
You’ll find many more challenges along your freelance writing journey. Each writer, in their own writing niche, will battle to overcome obstacles.
This will happen to you too! What you must do is preserve!
Build a focused writing environment and create a regular writing routine! This way, common freelance writing challenges like these will be peanuts!
However, from time to time, you’ll struggle to find motivation. Regardless of your motives, remember why you decided to become a freelance writer. Focus on your passion for writing and write as if no one is watching!