“I opted for a freelance writing career. I was lucky enough to have the means to do it.”
– Matt Ridley
5 freelancing mistakes I make almost daily
A reader recently emailed me and asked for a few suggestions about freelancing on oDesk and what types of things he should avoid doing. I thought this was a pretty interesting question, so I decided to make a short list of the 5 freelancing mistakes I make almost daily.
1. Doing bulk work.
A lot of people on oDesk are looking for writers to pump out dozens of articles within a very short time period. You’ll see a lot of requests asking freelancers to write “20 alarm clock reviews within 3 days.” These jobs get old fast. Writing “The Timex Decorative XBBU has a programmable snooze and repeat button” becomes tiresome after a while. It’s really easy to get burnt out.
2. Delivering within 24 hours.
In the middle of April I decided to start telling every single client that I would be able to deliver their work within a 24 time period. My hire rate went through the roof, but I ended up getting swamped. Additionally, the short delivery time attracted some of the whiniest and cheapest clients on earth. I actually had one guy message me every hour with updates like “Three hours to go.”
3. Not telling clients to “F*ck off.”
Most of the people on oDesk are pretty cool. A lot of them will tip you, give you a raise for your next project, or leave glowing feedback on your profile. However, there are certain people who are a nightmare to work with. Clients from third world dumps, and Great Britain, tend to be pushy and cheap. In February an Indian company hired me to make a document about their product only to never pay for it.
4. Not being diverse enough.
Until last week I hadn’t used an actual word processor all year. Because most of my work is content writing I just make stuff on Google Drive. There’s no line spaces, indents, or actual formatting. My clients just copy and paste the work into their own websites, so there’s no real need to get technical. As a result, I forgot how to use Open Office. Even if you don’t need to use an actual word processor, you should still practice with one from time to time.
5. Don’t do jobs “for the story.”
A few months ago I got hired for a Brazzers affiliate site. I thought it was going to be a funny job and I was looking forward to all the hilarious stories that I would have. It ended up being the most boring work on the planet. I spent the majority of my time writing generic fluff about how often the content was updated and how fast the network was. Additionally, the job paid way less than what I normally would have made. I ended up losing money on the project.