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5 Mistakes New Freelance Writers Make

New freelancers make mistakes that can easily be avoided – especially if they’re armed with these tips for successful writing from a professional writer! Here, Chris Brantner of HELP! Copy & Design doesn’t just reveal the biggest mistakes new writers make, he explains how to prevent them.

“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” ~ Samuel Johnson.

Perhaps one of the biggest mistake new freelancers make is thinking that writing is easy. A second mistake is not treating freelancing like a career or your small business – it took me a year to figure that one out! If you’re new to freelancing – and want to earn the big buckaroos – take The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle for a spin.

As a newbie freelancer, I made tons of mistakes. Luckily, I had some good mentors to teach me the tricks of the trade. They pointed out my mistakes and showed me how to fix them. Here are a few common ones I made that you might as well.

1. Using big words. While a thesaurus is most writers’ favorite tool, it can be a freelancer’s worst enemy. Why? Because the tendency is to use gargantuan words that impede the reader’s experience. Copy should be tight and concise, allowing readers to easily comprehend what’s being said. If they have to spend time attempting to comprehend what’s being said, they’ll probably move on to a different article, website, or book. Keep your words simple and straightforward.

2. Incorporating too much fluff. I remember sitting in front of my screen as a new freelancer, sweating in the face of an article with a 1000 word count. I assumed the best way to achieve the count was to fluff up my writing. I changed sentences from active to passive voice in order to string them out longer. I hit the word count, but did so with sloppy, needlessly wordy writing. Needless to say, I don’t show those samples to my potential clients.

3. Writing big blocks of text. Does your content read like a text book? Thick paragraph after thick paragraph, packed with detailed information? Well, detailed information is good—when organized properly. Readers (online readers especially) like lists, like this one. They want to scan the content, and read in more detail where it looks interesting. Big blocks of content get skipped. So, break your writing into readable chunks.

4. Not connecting with the right audience. One of the biggest mistakes new freelancers make is writing for the wrong audience. Usually, a novice will write to themselves. You aren’t your own audience! Figure out who will be reading your article. What do they want to hear? How do they speak? What special terms might they use?

5. Overstuffing keywords when web writing. There’s this misconception still floating around that Search Engine Optimization means cramming as many keywords in an article as possible. The result is content that reads like this: “New freelancers love keywords. And as a new freelancer, new freelancers try to use as many keywords as possible. Doing so makes a new freelancer feel like they are better optimizing their article. What the new freelancer doesn’t know is that cramming keywords kills the readability of the new freelancer’s content.”

The truth is, you only need to use your keyword a few times in each article. Put it in the beginning and the end. Then pepper it once or twice in the body. Think of it like seasoning your food. A little makes things taste great. A lot ruins the whole meal.

Learning to avoid these mistakes is the first step cross the line between amateur and professional freelance writer. Be open to change an find yourself on the way to a successful writing career.

Do you have questions or comments on these — or other — mistakes newbie freelancers make? Fire away below!

Chris is the co-founder of the copywriting agency HELP! Copy and Design. HELP’s website copywriters specialize in creating content that converts.

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3 thoughts on “5 Mistakes New Freelance Writers Make”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks, George….I think Chris’ tips are valuable to both magazine and web writers. It seems like no matter what the medium, we don’t like blocks of text as much as scannable paragraphs.

  2. Ugh.

    Big blocks of text kill me. I will pass them by, even if the topic is of interest. I just don’t have the time or inclination to sort through that much bloviating. Outstanding tips here and I hope that new freelancers take heart!