7 Reasons You Aren’t Making Money as a Freelancer

by Alicia Sparks on March 17, 2014


Whether you envision yourself in your own home office or working from the local coffee shop, making money as a freelancer seems pretty glamorous, doesn’t it?

Well, it isn’t. At least, not at first and, if you don’t fix some of these blunders, it never will be.

If you’ve been working as a freelance writer, editor, graphic designer, photographer, or any other endeavor, and haven’t really been making money as a freelancer (or, the kind of money you want to make), what you’re actually making is one or more of these mistakes.

1. You don’t have a “presence.”

If you don’t have an online presence in today’s world, your business may as well not exist.

That might sound dramatic, but I’m willing to bet it’s the case about 89%* of the time.

A website is a given (at least, it better be), but blogs and other social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest are helpful, too.

Regardless of what you’re selling (products, services, or time), your potential customers and clients need somewhere to learn more about you and get to know you.

72%* of the time, simply posting or responding to an ad on Craigslist ain’t gonna cut it.

*These statistics are made up, okay?

2. Everything about you is generic.

Show some personality!

There are dozens of little tweaks you can make to show off your individuality (and set you apart from the masses). Just a few include:

  • Share some personal info on Facebook or Twitter every now and then. Not everything has to be a shameless plug or retweet.
  • Get a logo and upload it to your website, blog, and social media accounts.
  • Stop starting every cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Tweak your resume as the job description calls for it.
  • Joke around a little!

Hey Freelancers! 7 Reasons You Aren’t Taking Risks, Right Here

3. You aren’t applying for the right jobs.

Say your dream is to manage a company’s (or two or three company’s) blogs, but you keep applying for jobs to write press releases.

Sure, you might make money (and good money) writing those press releases, but you won’t be happy and eventually your drive will peter out and you’ll be back on the market.

Decide what you’re passionate about — how you really want to make money at home — and go after THOSE jobs.

4. You aren’t going after the right clients.

If you want to make money as a freelance writer, go after clients who need writing services. If you want to make money as a freelance writer coach, go after clients who want to learn how to become and make money as a freelancer.

It’s that simple.

5. You’re trying too hard to be a “jack of all trades.”

Writers especially are divided on this issue: write whatever pays or specialize in certain types of writing.

Personally, I specialize. I don’t have time to spread over every kind of writing (for example, I can whip out a killer blog post and I’m great at researching difficult topics and presenting them in easy-to-understand terms; I don’t know squat about grant writing, though).

If your business plan has been to write whatever pays, but you’re still not making money as a freelance writer, try grasping a smaller handful of specialities.

6. You aren’t treating the hunt like a job.

This is Job Search 101, people.

I don’t care if you’re working toward being a full-time freelancer or are an entrepreneur who just needs some extra cash to get your start up off the ground, if you aren’t treating the job hunt like a job, your results will suck. Period.

7. You aren’t treating the job like a job!

Look, having a home business is great (most of the time), but just because you work from home doesn’t mean you aren’t working. Treat the job like a job — not something you do in between pinning new recipes and chatting on Facebook.

How about you sweet freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other business owners? What were some of the obstacles that kept you from making money in the beginning? How did you over come them?

(P.S. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up for The Writing Spark’s newsletter and, until March 31, 2014, signing up enters you to win a free business planner!)

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