Freelance Tips and Guides

Joining the Freelance Career: The 5 Troubles All Freelancers Share

Many people share this ridiculous idea that freelancing is the simplest job ever. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t even start telling you what I’ve heard at this point. No, us freelancers don’t just lie around or type a couple of words that cost a fortune. A freelance career is just as challenging as any other career path you choose to pursue.

This is not an article aimed at changing your mind about freelancing. On the opposite, choosing a freelance career has been one of the wisest choices I’ve ever made. There are so many benefits to it, I can’t even begin to share them with you.

The idea here is to help you get in our tight circle of successful freelance writers.

My path toward a successful writing career was not easy, so bear with me while I tell you what kinds of obstacles you might come across.

Just Joined the Freelance Career? Here’s what You Can Expect

The number of challenges all freelance writers face at one point or another is growing with the minute. I can’t prepare you for all that you’re about to experience, but these should give you an idea of what you can expect moving forward.

1. Finding Your First Client

This is the number one challenge you’ll face. Most clients you’ll work for in the future will hire you based on your experience and reputation. But, when you are a newbie in the field, you don’t have either.

So, what do you do?

Your strongest tool for attracting the first clients that will help you build your reputation is your portfolio. Rushing to apply to job posts is not a wise idea, since you’ll probably not going to get any response without a portfolio to show.

This is highly understandable, isn’t it? Who would like to hire and pay a writer without knowing if they can actually write?

That being said, you should be prepared to spend some valuable time on building your portfolio and applying – without earning anything.

Sounds horrible, I know. But once you pass this phase and get some regulars, finding new clients will be much, much easier. And more rewarding.

How do you land your first gig, really? For starters, you might want to use the popular hiring platforms to find some gigs, such as Upwork, Freelancer or PeoplePerHour. Also, you can even test your luck by applying to job posts on sites such as Craigslist and FreelanceWritingGigs.

2. Earning What You Should

Some will tell you that they landed many gigs right away. They aren’t lying. However, if you want to find a client that will pay you at least the minimum of what you deserve, you need to work harder.

I learned this the hard way. I worked so hard to build my portfolio (spent a couple of months just writing for the portfolio and sending out guest post pitches), I couldn’t make myself work for less than what I deserve.

Now that I know how hard this is, especially for a person who isn’t a native English speaker, I can tell you that my way was the wrong way.

I’m not saying that you should work for a ridiculous fee like many people do to get some feedback. But, don’t expect to earn a fortune right away. If you want to succeed in the freelance career fast and find high-paying clients, you’ll have to lower your expectations at first.

Once again, this is understandable. None of the highly reputable clients will hire and pay a newbie writer without feedback from others or reputation to show.

3. The Competition

The freelance career comes with so many benefits, it is no wonder why there are so many people out there testing the waters.

Still, once you start working as a freelance writer, you’ll learn that most of the people around you go into this blindly. After a short while, they give up or fail.

Don’t lose hope over this. If you are good at writing, organized and persistent, you’ll make it there.

The goal is to get your name out there as a good writer. The best advice I’ve ever heard in regard to showcasing your talents is about creating your own blog. This can serve as your online portfolio, one you’ll send to your potential clients.

What’s even better, if you make your blog good, you can even make money from it.

Another solution is guest blogging. If you want clients to see you as a reputable and talented writer, you need to show them that you’re worth publishing online.

Remember – guest blogging is almost always unpaid, so you won’t be earning anything except for a better reputation and higher odds to be hired. This will take a lot of your time, and by lot, I really mean it. But, when you convince some popular sites to publish your work under your name, it will literally turn your freelancing career around!

This site helped me a lot when I was looking for websites that will publish my guest posts. Take a look.

Finally, there’s the matter of SEO. If you haven’t heard of it or want to learn some more, check out my SEO guide for this year. Succeeding as an online freelance writer today demands that you know how to optimize your content for search engines, which is what SEO is all about.

Even if you don’t have a client who asks for this, learning as much as you can about SEO is the best advice I can give you. The strategies you can master will help you with your own blog and give you many opportunities to land clients.

4. Time and Organization

In my opinion, this is one of the biggest reasons why freelancers fail to build a good freelanc career. This world does not have room for those with bad organizational skills. If you can’t learn to organize your time and meet all deadlines, you’ll have a bad start and a worse finish in the freelance world.

The flexibility freelancing offers is my absolute favorite thing about my job. I can work from home or any location in the world, and everyone knows how much I love to travel. Freelancing gives you more freedom than any other job.

But, only if you are a person with great organizational skills.

If you are dedicated to your freelancing career and don’t allow yourself to miss deadlines, you’ll build a great reputation with your clients. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool (I’ve actually met my favorite clients this way).

This might be tough for you at first, especially if you are used to that 9-to-5 office job where you were told what to do and when to do it. In the freelance writing career, you are your own boss. This means that you’ll love your boss, but also that you have to do this all on your own.

My advice? Whenever you get a gig, set a time to finish it and stick to it. You might even want to finish it right away so that you have the rest of the day for yourself. Once you get in this business, you’ll learn that procrastination is your worst enemy. I know it – I’ve spent sleepless nights working on projects just because I didn’t get myself to write during the day.

5. Difficult Clients

This is the most common problem we freelancers face, and it literally never stops. Don’t think that difficult clients only happen to new freelancers. They still happen to me, but now I’m better at dealing with them.

In the beginning, you’ll be amazed to learn how different clients can be. Some are very understandable and flexible, while others are highly demanding and picky. Some are literally there to torture freelancers to do a thing they aren’t even sure about.

So, get prepared to meet clients with impossible deadlines, ridiculous proposals, and those who change their mind all the time. There will be those who get too personal and those who don’t know what they want. And finally, the ones that annoy me the most – those who expect you to do their job, too.

Dealing with difficult clients is hard, but experience will teach you how to do it. Expect to find a new post on this topic on my site by the end of this week. It will really help you.

That’s It!

No, not really. There are still many things that you’ll come across during your freelancing career, but these are the ones all freelancers experience. Keep your head up and use your talents. With a bit of persistence and a lot of patience – you’ll get there! Good luck.


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