14 Tip-Offs That You’re New to Freelance Writing

1. You don’t have any portfolio pieces.
Getting pieces for your portfolio is hard when you first start out. But it’s not impossible. Here are some tips on how to get samples when you don’t have any clients.

2. You don’t have any testimonials.
If you’d done work for somebody, you’d have testimonials, wouldn’t you? Surely? Yeah, you would. Don’t waste any time in asking for them.

3. You have a blog… but its earliest entry is a couple of weeks ago.
Psst… ever heard of backdating? If you do decide to write a blog, consider writing up a whole bunch of posts from the get-go and backdating them to make it seem like you’ve been doing this a while. Spread them out evenly too, so you look consistent.

4. You answer emails on the weekend.
Come on now. Who does that? NOT PROFESSIONALS, THAT’S WHO. Not only does answering emails on the weekend make you seem overly keen, it also makes you seem like you can’t handle your work. And also, why the fuck are you working on the weekend? Stop it immediately.

5. Your website is crap and unprofessional-looking. Or you don’t even have one.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Your website is super ridiculously important. It’s how people will decide to hire you. And if it’s crap… well, they won’t hire you.

6. You stumble over your words and sound nervous when talking to a prospect over the phone or Skype.
Okay, so maybe you’re just not good on the phone. But being nervous on the phone will make you sound like a newbie either way. Check out this post for tips on how to sound more confident when chatting to a client.

7. You don’t get your clients to sign contracts.
I’D LIKE TO INSERT SOME BIG, SHOUTY, ALARM-SHAPED WARNING BELLS HERE. Contracts aren’t just there to ‘make sure you get paid’. They’re so much more than that, guys.

8. You don’t write or send your invoices properly.
Basic skill fail number one. If you’re going to freelance, you need to know how to invoice your clients.

9. You don’t get any money upfront.
It’s standard procedure in the world of freelance writing – any type of freelancing, really – to get a deposit of up to 50% before beginning work on a project. In fact, the super successful, trusted freelancers get 100% upfront.

10. You don’t ask your clients questions.
Because you’re scared you should already know everything, right? Wrong.

11. You justify yourself.
If you were confident in what you were doing – say, because you’d been doing it a while, like a pro – you wouldn’t feel the need to justify yourself. ‘Oh, I can’t work on this project because…’ ‘I can’t get this to you by that date because…’ No. You’d just say it like it is. ‘My next availability is…’ and shit like that. You know? Yeah.

12. You let yourself be beaten down on price.
If you already had a solid client base, you would easily stand firm on your prices. Because why would you write for less than everybody else is already paying you? Dropping your prices is the trademark of an amateur.

13. You give clients ‘free trials’.
Clients who ask for free trials are usually taking the piss and will not hire you.

14. You make silly writing mistakes.
You want to get paid to write – you know, as a professional – but you’re still making stupid mistakes like this and this.

Want help to position yourself as a pro right from the start? Check out my course about how to get started as a freelance copywriter.