mistakes new freelance writer

3 mistakes you’ll probably make as a new freelance writer

So you’ve decided to freelance? Awesome!

You’re sitting at your desk on a normal working day and reading a particular magazine to see whether they take freelancers. As you browse through the publication, your mind is filling up with potential story ideas.

mistakes new freelance writer

You quickly jot them down, perhaps mind map these and open your email to write a pitch to the features editor. You do some quick research, find stats to support your idea, write it up and hit send. That’s your first mistake guaranteed not to land you a commission.

Mistake #1: Being overeager to send a pitch

The process from having an idea to finally pitching it can be long often taking over a few hours to a few days.

Don’t be in a hurry to send a half-baked pitch to the editor especially when  you’re starting out, sleep on it, flesh it out and make sure it’s a great pitch.

A fantastic pitch will improve your strike rates by landing you more commissions and help in building a relationship with the editor.

Mistake #2: Not reading the magazine

This error has to make any list that talks about the mistakes made by new freelancers.

Not reading the magazine is like going to swim and not knowing how to float (maybe a bit dramatic but true!).

One writer said on her blog that a freelance writer who’s thinking of pitching to a new magazine needs to read and analyse it with more concentration than a college textbook.

Going in blind is never a good idea plus it’s a time waster and the editor won’t take you seriously.

Mistake #3: Getting nervous about writing

As a freelancer who’s been in the business for over three years now, I can guarantee that the hardest part of freelancing is getting a pitch commissioned, not actually writing the article.

If you’re still feeling queasy about writing the article, plan ahead by contacting and interviewing your experts as soon as you’re commissioned and give yourself plenty of time to write two to three drafts so you can get the article perfect before submission.

Treat the article the same as if you’re trying to eat an elephant – one mouthful at a time!

Happy writing!

juggling writing and motherhood

The real truth about juggling writing and motherhood

I had a think about what my first blog post should cover, and immediately juggling motherhood with writing came to mind.

juggling writing and motherhood

I write about this first because both of these topics share equal space in my brain, sometimes one over takes the other and there is confusion and a sense of imbalance.

I’m happiest and most productive when these two areas align perfectly in my life which is not that often, I admit.

I never saw myself as a serious writer until I became a mother. If my son hadn’t come along, then most likely I’d still be working in a full time marketing job and wishing I had more time to write. Time then seemed very precious though the truth is I’d probably wasted vast amounts doing inconsequential stuff.

After I had my son, I decided to finally start writing or at least learn more about it, while I waited for my maternity leave to come to an end. I read one magazine, pitched a couple of really badly written ideas to the editor from my Yahoo! mail (cringe) which were accepted (to my surprise). I enjoyed it so much that I did a few writing courses and decided to formally pitch a few ideas, which were promptly rejected by most editors.

But I got up the next day, and the day after that and kept going through the sleep deprivation, early illnesses and constantly refreshing my inbox hoping to see a yes for one of my ideas. I kept pitching, making quite a few rookie mistakes before I learnt what not to do when pitching to an editor (I’m still learning!).

What got me to this stage, 3 years later, with many feature articles in my portfolio and a few corporate clients was:

  1. My passion for writing
  2. Persistence
  3. Flexibility

Without these three ingredients, I doubt I would have achieved as much as I would have done. I still feel on some days that I haven’t achieved as much as I would have liked, then I look at my son, and I know he has given me the life experiences that have added depth to my writing and partly contributed to my success as a freelancer.

I could sit here and tell you what I did to get established as a freelance writer but the truth is, you need to find a system that works for you and your child so that you can get your writing done. However, some general tips that work for many writers who are also mums are:

  1. Write in short bursts of time rather than trying to find a block of time because let’s face it, with a child that’s quite difficult to do.
  2. Have a dedicated space for your writing rather than at the kitchen table in the midst of dirty dishes!
  3. Go for a walk or do some exercise to start doing your best thinking.

Do you freelance around small children? What do you do to make it work?