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How Freelance Writers Can Tell If They’re Doing It Right

Carol Tice

Freelance writer feels confident he's on the right trackWriters are a persnickety group, I’ve learned in my five years writing this blog.

I can tell from all the writers who email me if I have a typo in one of my posts. (And no, I don’t care about the typos.)

But seriously…writers like to do things by the book. We don’t like mistakes.

Writer’s guidelines make us happy. It’s comforting to us to know the proper procedure.

Which is why being a freelance writer can be so stressful. There’s so much gray area!

It’s easy to get bogged down worrying about whether you’re making a mistake in how you’re pitching that editor, or asking about that late payment.

Writers want to avoid embarrassment

Of the thousands of questions writers have asked me over the years, I had the thought recently that they all boil down to one question:

“Am I doing this right?”

Many writers feel there must be a secret playbook out there that reveals the one, right way to pursue freelance writing. And that I’m hiding it somewhere. Would I please share it?

The thing is, there is no one right way. Any time I think I’ve discovered a great a system for querying or doing marketing on LinkedIn that works great, I meet someone else who does the opposite — or thinks my marketing method is bad.

But screwups are inevitable

If you are out there shaking your tail feather marketing your writing a lot, you are bound to screw up. You’ll end up spilling your drink all over your jacket at that networking event, or forgetting the name of someone you met last week and looking like a fool.

You’ll send your query letter to an editor who it turns out got fired that week.

When you try social media, the opportunities for social gaffes are numerous. For instance, at one point I tried to get serious about promoting my blog posts on Reddit.

I kept posting links and being ignored or left weird, rude comments, until one kind Reddit user finally enlightened me that it’s not cool to post your own stuff on Reddit. It’s only for posting other peoples’ stuff you want to share.

Whoops! Oh well.

I went back to using social-media platforms I understand. I was not blackballed by the High Court of Social Media Wizards. I now chat happily with my 9,000 Twitter followers and make friends and find new readers there.

My Google Analytics tells me some wonderful people do share my stuff on Reddit and StumbleUpon, as I get some traffic from those places. I’m grateful they do. Still don’t really get how those sites work.

Luckily, you don’t have to ace everything to find freelance clients.

How you’ll know if you’ve got it

Here’s the basic rule for freelance writers. Ask yourself: Are you doing it?

If you are steadily marketing your services in some way, and learning from your mistakes, and getting better at marketing as you go…then you’re doing it right.

Stop obsessing about whether you know the “etiquette” of how to do everything perfectly and just do.

Trust me, it’ll work out a lot better than sitting biting your nails and not taking action because you’re worried you don’t know the right way to go about it.

Are you doing it right? Leave a comment and tell us the actions you’re taking to move your freelancing forward.