When a lot of people read my income reports and see me making 4 figures from writing every month they start sending me emails asking every possible question about making money from writing – the reality is that they only see the good aspect of it and are failing to see the challenges that come with it.
Before trying to be a full-time freelance writer it is very important to be prepared for the challenges that comes with it. Below are the 9 major challenges you will face as a freelance writer – the more prepared you are for them, the easier your journey becomes.
I’d also try to include a solution to all these challenges below them.
#1 – Finding Clients
The number one challenge any freelance writer faces is finding clients.
When many people hear about freelance writing the first set of people they think about are those struggling to get jobs on freelancing portals like Elance.com and Guru.com.
The reality is that 1% of freelance writers make 99% of the income that comes from freelance writing. For example, I know of several great freelance writers like Sean Platt and Carol Tice who are making thousands upon thousands of dollars every single month. Some of them are even on their way to build a million dollar freelance writing business.
The thing about finding clients as a freelancer is the competition, and I’m starting to see that there really is no competition if you follow the right approach.
Solution: Instead of trying to find clients on Elance and other freelancing portals that are full of competition, why not focus your efforts on being independent? You can easily do this by creating your own professional blog, writing consistently well-written articles on it, putting up a page promoting your services and then marketing the heck out of yourself by guest blogging on other blogs.
This strategy alone has netted me six figures in freelance writing income, and I outline my process – which has been tested with others and is proven to work – in Stop Pitching Clients: How to Get Clients to Come to You – by Blogging.
#2 – Time
Time can be one of the worst nightmares of a freelance writer, and it seems you just can’t ever get enough of it.
As a freelance writer you are paid based on your time and you also have other responsibilities fighting for your time. The problem becomes compounded if you’re an independent freelancer doing a lot of tasks outside your field such as coding your website, tweaking your themes, designing your graphics and things of that sort.
Solution: One great secret about successful freelancers is that they value their time. You can make a lot of money, but you will never get your time again. Instead of trying to get every offer that comes your way why not focus on selecting the “best offers” for you and committing all your efforts to it? It is also very important to use every opportunity you can get to bring about a raise in your income – the more money you are paid for your time, the better it is for you.
Another solution is that you should also learn to outsource some of your tasks. Don’t withhold that $100 if using it to outsource a particular service you need will give you enough time to make thousands of dollars. One thing about me is that I suck at coding and designing and I can spend days trying to figure out what’s wrong with a simple design – the great thing is that I can also make thousands of dollars just by spending my time writing in a single day. As a result of this, instead of wasting my time coding my blog I’ve already spent thousands of dollars on it already – the result, my blog is more beautiful than I can ever make it, and I have made at least 10 times the amount I spent designing my blog.
It’s all about understanding what is most important to you, and then spending your time wisely on it.
#3 – Getting Ideas
When I just started as a freelance writer I was booming with ideas, I was filled with joy and I thought it was only a matter of time before I become very rich – I’ll accept that I’m a good writer (at least that’s what people tell me) who has written hundreds of guest posts before getting my first freelance writing job, but it seems the inevitable just has to happen.
Lack of ideas can be the greatest challenge of any freelancer. The reality is, you are not greater than the ideas you can get. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelance writer or a freelance designer, the limit to your ideas is the limit to your growth.
Solution: Start spending more time where people congregate in the niche you’re writing about, because you will always find new ideas there. Start spending your time reading books, blogs and any article you can come across. Some people will suggest you only read what is relevant to you, but I personally think creative people read any good thing they can lay their hands on, whether it is immediately relevant or not. Is it from reading The 48 Laws of Power to reading the latest article on Copyblogger? I have discovered that every single article I read improves my writing and creativity – it gives me more experience and ideas on how to expand more on a particular subject.
Another thing that has been known to work for me is spending time reading authority blogs and media sites on the subject I’m writing about. If I’m writing about green energy, then I should be ready to make the top blogs on green energy my friend.
I’ve written in over 6 niches now and I’ve been able to cope with writing for those niches. As long as there are blogs and articles online about a subject, then there really is nothing stopping me from being able to write about that subject.
#4 – Health
After falling sick for a whole week now, and seeing a month I planned to be my best turn to my worst, I am starting to face the reality of the worst nightmare of a freelance writer.
As a freelance writer you can plan as much as you want, you can load yourself with as much knowledge on a subject as you can, but there is one thing that can always stop you, and you must always be prepared for it. That one thing is your health.
Lack of ideas is a problem with a quick solution, if you fall sick you can’t do anything until you get well. Especially when the doctors start giving you their “great”(?) advice that you shouldn’t try to do anything.
Solution: There is always a quick and easy solution to every other freelance writing challenge, but this one doesn’t have an easy fix. The best thing that worked for me is preparing for the worst days.
Any slight problem arising as a result of your health will lead to instant decrease in your income so what better way than to prepare for the worst? Preparing for the worst is even more important if you are a freelance writer who loves doing a particular month’s work at rush hours.
If you have a particular client or clients you’ve been working with for a long time, you can easily start writing your articles for them in advance and then use it when they need it in the future.
Some of us also have advantages as far as this is concerned – for example, with the two major clients I currently work with I’m in control of my income. I can easily double my income in a particular month if I double my work so if I want to increase my income, instead of working towards the end of the month I can easily do the bulk of my work towards the beginning of the month.
You need to proceed with caution in cases like these, though, and it is important to get in touch with clients to ask if that is okay with them. After all, you wouldn’t want to do all that work and not get paid.
Another tip is to be saving as much money as you can. This means you can get as much clients as you can work with, and then be saving a large percentage of your income. The money you save will help prepare you for “the evil days”.
#5 – Distractions
This can be very dangerous, especially if you are someone like me who loves to watch movies a lot and can’t concentrate on anything if people are watching a movie around you.
With a lot of great distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Email, TVs and other flashy new technologies around you, it can be quite easy to get distracted, and if you are not careful, distractions will put a dent on your income. Just take a look at my income, those poor months are as a result of distractions.
My point, while this looks like the most friendly and easiest to overcome of all challenges, it can be very deadly – beware of it!
Solution: Try to get yourself some cool “tools” like a headset, a cool music library and any other thing that can block you from the rest of the world. It is important, though, to realize that the number one thing to prepare is your mindset – I write nowadays with Twitter opened, my email accounts opened, people around me (as long as they are not watching movies) and I’m still able to write for hours without being distracted.
Once you have the right mindset and the tools listed above you should work on blocking yourself from both the “outside” and the “inside” world. The “outside world” are those things happening around you and the “inside world” are those things happening on Twitter, Facebook and on your PC. To block yourself from the outside world you can use your headset and tune in to your favorite music at its loudest volume (if you’re comfortable with that) and to block yourself from the inside world you can get writing software applications like DarkRoom and WriteRoom for Windows and Mac respectively.
Another thing you should also do is to ensure that you don’t have your browser or any other distracting application opened. Do your research first, get your points, open Microsoft Word or your favorite writing tool and then get started with writing.
#6 – Procrastination
You know when you get that job and you keep on saying I will do it and I will do it every day before discovering that the time has gone?
Well, procrastination is a killer, not only in freelancing but in every other aspects of life.
You might not know that you’re procrastinating – but if you’re having fun when you’re supposed to be working, you’re procrastinating! If you have one work and it suddenly starts piling up till you have more work than you can handle, you’re procrastinating!
Solution: The key here is to have one major philosophy. That philosophy is work first, play later.
I usually take the first week of any month off from doing any serious work. I use that moment to have some fun, but after that, it is work on a consistent basis. Your own days off might be the weekends, it might be a few hours everyday or it might be any time convenient for you. Just learn not to mix up work with play – work when you have to, and play when you have to. Don’t play when you have to work and don’t work when you have to play. It might sound ridiculous, but the moment you start working when you are supposed to play is the moment you will start having more excuses to play when you have to work.
#7 – Deadlines
Oh, this funny thing is here to give us some tension. It is here to make us nervous.
I don’t know if this is only me, but it seems to me that freelance writers are 3 times more active when they are on deadlines…lol!
Deadlines are a major challenge of a freelance writer and things start to get worse when the clock starts to tick but your work is yet to be done.
Solution: There are two types of deadlines for a freelance writer. The first one is the real deadline and the second one is the self-imposed deadline.
The solution to overcoming the self-imposed deadline is to ensure you never impose any deadline on yourself. I mean, if you work when you are supposed to work you won’t have any reason to face a deadline.
If you’re always having to deal with the real deadlines then you should either do two things – look for those clients who are making things difficult for you and are always putting you on the deadline, if you are not satisfied with their work then you should tell them to work on improving things for the benefit of you both, if they aren’t ready to change then you should call it quits with them. The other thing you should do is take a look at the jobs you take, how many of them are really contributing to your income and career as a writer? If you see a job that doesn’t pay, stop doing it!
We freelance writers take a lot of job just for the sake of making a few cents, these little-paying jobs then end up preventing us from doing the “real thing”. Better make the right decision by parting with those jobs now before they make a hole in your career.
#8 – Boringness
Freelancing can be great, but what can we do when we start to get bored? What can you do when you just feel like not doing anything again?
You might not have experienced this before, but if you’re not careful, you soon will!
Solution: Prevention is always better than cure and you will run out and get bored if you are always stressing yourself beyond your limits. Freelance writers are not slaves, and you shouldn’t treat yourself as one. Focus your efforts first on making yourself comfortable, don’t do what you don’t love doing and try to make everything look like heaven for you.
Another way to prevent boringness is by trying to fill yourself with joy no matter what you do. Try to see your work as fun, or better still, don’t do any job you don’t have fun doing.
If the inevitable eventually happens and you are so bored you don’t know what to do. Don’t call it quits yet, don’t tell your clients you no longer need their work. Try to get in touch with another successful freelance writer – spend some quality time with him or her, discuss your problems and concerns, ask for tips and advice. That discussion alone can reinvigorate your fire once again because the major reason why freelance writers get bored is because they always have to work alone. If possible, always surround yourself with people who have the same interest as you.
Sometimes this will cost money, but I think it is worth it if you get back to being yourself. For example, hiring a successful freelance writer for a talk or consultation when you feel the fire dying is worth its price in gold!
#9 – Unavailability
This is another major challenge of a freelance writer. This time, the problem isn’t that you are sick, it isn’t that you lack the ideas or are starting to get bored – it is because you are unavailable. Maybe you decided to take that cool vacation with your spouse, or you have to go visit your family. Every problem has a solution, and the solution to this problem is below.
Solution: I’ll be traveling for a few days next week, but that doesn’t mean my income should experience a halt. My tip for you is that life is too short not to be enjoyed (arghh, well, it all depends on your definition of “enjoy”…lol!). Instead of slaving up with your hours in front of your computer why not focus only on getting jobs that are worth your while? Why not focus on enjoying yourself and getting the best out of life?
The best thing to do is to prepare for situations like this – I always believe in working so hard that you have at least 2-3 months of income should you decide not to work.
Next Step: Kindly take a minute to spread the goodness by sharing this article on Facebook, Twitter and Stumbleupon – I’d be happy to see a lot of freelance writers get solutions to their problems.
P.S. I just launched a 7 series email course in which I guide entirely new freelance writers on how to build a successful freelance writing business. Get it here!
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