Freelance writing is a big, bold, exciting world full of possibilities. You can find success beyond your wildest dreams — if you know where to look and have the right work ethic.
In this sense, working online is similar to working in the “real world.” However, like the real world, people can be toxic jerks — specifically, new “clients.”
If you are a doe-eyed newbie freelancer, hopefully, you haven’t encountered a client with a toxic attitude. If you HAVE, I’m sorry, and I hope this piece helps you avoid people like that in the future. You deserve payment for your hard work — never let a so-called “client” convince you otherwise.
We are going to go through four different types of behavior that toxic clients possess, and why they are hurting you. Afterward, we will dive in deep and figure out how to avoid them altogether.
These examples are based on my personal experiences and horror stories from freelancing friends.
1. They Won’t Pay
The first sign of a toxic client is also the most frustrating sign: they won’t pay you. This “behavior” manifests itself in a variety of different ways.
You may hear them say something subtle like “Oh, I have to pay you from my friend’s account, it’s going to be a week or so.”
There are other examples too. At one point, a client told me “Don’t worry about getting paid, just do more work for me.” This conversation occurred AFTER I worked with her for almost two weeks and was promised payment a week prior. (I was a doe-eyed newbie freelancer once upon a time too!)
There are also people who will try to scam you by promising payment “in the future.” Sometimes it’s two weeks, sometimes it’s a month; the time frame can vary. They will unload a ton of work on you, and tell you that they’ll pay you at a set time. Finally, payday comes, and they’re nowhere to be found. You’re sick to your stomach, disgusted, and annoyed. You’ve been had.
Luckily, you don’t have to go through this mess. If you are applying to a company that are legit and pay every two weeks, you’ll know. The company name will be in the email, they’ll be researchable with a phone number or physical address, and you’ll be able to reach out to other employees. In essence, it will be obvious.
But, if “SEOMaster77” adds you on Skype with no profile info or picture and wants you to write ten articles a day, don’t engage with these potentially toxic “clients.”
If you come into contact with a client who pays you regularly and then starts making the excuses that they’ll pay when they get into their friend’s account next week — cut the ties. Otherwise, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.
2. “Just Friends”
The next toxic client behavior can be challenging to overcome. There are clients who you’ll come into contact with, and everything will go smoothly. You’ll do some work, and then they will pay you. The process repeats a couple of times. Suddenly… things change.
Your client approaches you and says, “Hi, so I need you to do something for me…” They give you an assignment, seems easy enough. You ask them, “What’s the pay for this article?”
Then, it happens:
“Oh, I thought you were going to write this for me for free because we are friends.”
This tactic is used by toxic clients to get free work out of you. The goal is to guilt you into writing something for them.
The client wants you to think “I CAN’T say no! They asked me to do it as a friend.” Get that notion out of your head right now.
In most cases, clients will do this when they are not even that friendly with you. This behavior is far from friend-like, and you need to put your foot down. Explain to them that your time and experience is valuable, and you need to be paid for your services. If they decline or push the issue, it might be time to cut ties.
Think of it this way: REAL FRIENDS know your value.
You will know whether you are talking to a friend, or just a client trying to get free work out of you.
3. Is Anybody Home?
We all know people who make excuses for everything. People with this habit are usually unreliable, irritating, and, generally, make life difficult. You know what amplifies the difficulty? When you work with people who have an excuse for everything.
You’ll be able to point out a toxic client with this habit fairly quickly. They will offer you a ton of work, tell you that they’ll be online later to give you directions, and then they end up not showing up for a week.
These incidents may seem insignificant, but the truth is they have a huge impact on your career as a whole. We all know that time equals money. If you are spending your time hunting down a client who is making excuses, you are burning money.
You could use that time to work for a client who actually bothers to get online and give you that crucial info. Or, you could spend your time working on a blog, finding new clients, and doing things to promote your career.
Missing out on a little bit of time every day adds up and can cost you big over the long term. The best way to handle these clients is to have a serious talk with them. Explain that your time is valuable and that you can’t bother hunting them down every day. Tell them that there has to be a set time to meet up, and, if they can’t do that, it may be time to move on.
4. Unrealistic Expectations
We all strive to do a good job when we’re working. Sometimes articles get sent back for edits because something just isn’t right. It happens to the best of us and is nothing to be ashamed of.
However, some clients take will advantage of this normal process.
Let’s say you finished your first article and submitted it. Typical clients will say “Great, thanks!” or “Can you fix [insert problems]?” If you get the latter, fix the problems and send the article back.
Sometimes, in rare cases, you may have to edit the piece again. It honestly shouldn’t go beyond that scenario. If you have a client asking for three, four, and five edits — something isn’t right. They have unrealistic expectations of you, the writer.
As previously mentioned, time equals money. If you are spending most of your day editing one piece of content for chump change, you’re wasting your valuable time.
If this happens once it might not seem like that big of a deal, but, if this trend continues, you are going to sink countless hours into this project with little-to-no return.
You can work towards fixing this behavior if you have a simple conversation with your client. Ask them if they can include all edits in the first email, if applicable. This will “restrict” them and let them know that you’re not okay with six edits on a 1,000-word article. Explain that you are wasting your time going back and forth, and you have other clients that need work done too.
There are toxic clients out there; and you will learn to spot them the longer you work in the world of freelance writing. If you want success, it’s best to avoid these people. Very few work relationships are salvageable when the client has crossed the line.
The most important thing to take away from this piece is that you should always be aware. Pay attention to the client before and during work. Listen to the language that they use, and observe their actions. You’ll begin to notice that there is a clear pattern.
Once you’ve identified this pattern, it’s like being able to see through the Matrix. You’ll save yourself time, trouble, and headaches. The icing on the cake, of course, is that you will end up setting yourself up for success and make more money if you only work with reputable people who deserve your talent.
Never forget: You have talent, you work hard, and you’re worth it.
Have you ever had an experience with a toxic client? If so, how did you respond? Let me know in the comments!
I usually save the personal posts for my other blog, but I thought I owed all you LittleZotz Writing readers an explanation…
I haven’t written a post here since last October. And, as you could probably tell from my tone in that post, I was feeling very frustrated.
After eight years of writing about the same topic(s) again and again, I felt stuck in a rut. Like I had nothing new/good to say. So I just stopped updating.
Then the awards started coming in… LittleZotz Writing was named one of The Write Life‘s Top 100 Blogs for Writers and one of Positive Writer‘s Top 50! I was honored. And I felt like I had to continue! But…I still had nothing to say.
I became deeply depressed.
I consulted my colleague, Robert the Cat:
He said it was too cold to think about such heavy-duty topics.
So I turned to my boyfriend, Ramiro Roman, the man who has been by my side for the entirety of my career. You know him as the guy who draws the illustrations that accompany my blog posts. He said:
“What are you so afraid of? You already know what the next step is.”
Yeah. I did. But, boy, was I scared.
My Big Decision
I have severe OCD, among other things. I’m medicated now, but sometimes my “OCD Brain” kicks in and won’t let me think properly.
One of the symptoms of my illness is that I’m a bit of a control freak. I have to have everything “just so.” And, while this has let up a bit in my day-to-day life, it’s still very prevalent in my online activities.
I’d been running LittleZotz Writing completely on my own (with the exception of Ramiro’s illustrations) for the past eight years. I did ALL the writing — everything! — and that’s how I liked it. I was in TOTAL control of the content produced… And that’s exactly what was holding me back.
It was time to let other voices shine, but I couldn’t bring myself to give up that sense of control.
I knew that “The Greats” — the other bloggers I admire — had taken the next step. I watched as they left me in the dust and moved on with their careers with relative ease. I watched enviously as their blogs grew into tremendous successes. But I was desperately clinging to my old ways of doing things. I was, as my boyfriend noted, afraid.
I’m still afraid. But I’m taking that next big step anyway.
I’m Now Accepting Guest Posts
I’m stepping back from writing content on this blog. It’s time to let YOU write here.
Oh, I’m sure I’ll step in once and a while if I have something to say. But, for the most part, I’m going to be an editor. My writing is going to be for clients and my fiction stories from here on out. It’s time to let OTHER voices shine here on the LZW blog.
Writers have been asking me to allow them to guest post for YEARS, and I always turned them down. Not anymore. If you want to write for me, send me a pitch! I’m willing to give you a chance now. I’m trusting in YOU to take care of my baby — I’m kicking my “OCD Brain” in the butt and giving up a bit of my control.
So what do you say? Do you think you have a great idea for the LittleZotz Writing blog?
Writing (Any type! Blogging, Fiction, Poetry… Send in your tips and tricks for success!)
Blogging (I prefer it to be freelance blogging, but I’m open to suggestions)
Freelancing (Usually related to writing/blogging)
Productivity (Preferably related to writing/blogging, but I’m open to suggestions if you have some GREAT general “life tips” in this area)
Imagine for a moment that a friend has invited you over for lunch.
When you get to your friend’s house, you not only eat their food, but you take a shower in their bathroom and sleep in their bed. Then, you put their indoor-only cat outside, take their paintings off the walls, sell their car to a man down the street, and smoke a cigar over their baby’s crib.
Is that any way for a lunch guest to behave?
Of course not!
Now imagine that you’ve been asked to be a GUEST writer. Would you walk into the publication like you owned the place?
You’d be surprised how many writers do! In fact, I get hundreds of e-mails every month from writers who do just that.
I’m the Head Editor of Be a Freelance Blogger and 133T, two online publications that depend on guest writers for content. However, despite the extremely clear guidelines on both publications, an overwhelming amount of writers don’t seem to know what guest writing is.
Let’s clear that up once and for all, shall we?
What Guest Writing Actually IS
When you write to a publication to become a guest writer, keep in mind that you’re asking to be their GUEST. You are NOT asking to “move in.” Guest writing is NOT a salaried job — or a JOB of any kind! — and it is in no way a permanent position. You’re stopping by to have a polite “lunch” at the publication.
Publications seeking guest writers are looking for one-time sources of content. They may or may not pay (133T pays, but BAFB doesn’t, for example). It’s a one-off “gig,” NOT a job.
If you’re a very good guest, you MIGHT be invited back for another “lunch” at the publication. As in, you MIGHT be asked to submit another post. But don’t count on it, and certainly don’t EXPECT it. Don’t make any unreasonable demands on your host — you are a GUEST in their “home.” Act like it.
How to Be the Perfect Guest Writer
I’m honestly SO sick of writing about this topic — mostly because it feels like no one actually reads what I’ve written. But I’m going to keep writing about it until my Head Editor inboxes are no longer filled with garbage from so-called writers who have no idea what they’re doing.
I apologize for being a bit harsh, but it’s true! Look at all these articles I’ve written on this very topic:
And you know what EVERY single one of those articles says…?
FOLLOW THE EDITOR’S GUIDELINES!!!
Not joking. I’ve written at least six posts on this topic and EVERY single one has the same advice: Follow the guidelines.
It’s honestly THAT SIMPLE, you guys! That’s ALL it takes to be a wonderful guest writer (aside from actually being a great writer). Just FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES.
If an editor asks you for a PITCH before sending in a draft… then send in a pitch before you send in a draft! Not knowing what pitching is is NOT an excuse. You’re a professional writer. You MUST know what pitching is. (And, if you don’t, refer to this post and LEARN what pitching is).
I know that I’ve been at this a lot longer than some of you. I’ve been freelance writing for sixteen years and counting at this point. But come ON. This is just embarrassing. My Head Editor inboxes are filled with absolute garbage on a daily basis. It’s getting to the point where I dread logging in to read my e-mails because I know I’m going to be wading through pages and pages of trash.
And I’ve only been in a Head Editor role for four years! Imagine how a “seasoned” editor must feel!! Yeah. Pretty crummy, right? NOW you know why it’s so friggin’ hard to get published at “big name” publications! The editors have become horrifically jaded (and with good reason!). It takes someone EXTRA SPECIAL to turn our heads and make us go “Omg! YES!”
On the flip side: Do you know how EASY it is to be “extra special” when everyone else has set the bar SO low? INCREDIBLY EASY!!! All you have to do is have a great/relevant idea, be a decent (not perfect!) writer, and FOLLOW THE EDITOR’S GUIDELINES.
Bam! That’s it. That’s all you have to do! I’m serious.
Take the time to read the editor’s guidelines (and follow them!), and the editor will take the time to read what YOU have written. Guaranteed.
Being a perfect guest writer is NOT hard.
Now, go out there and get published!
Need help finding a publication that pays? I’ve got you covered in that arena too! Download my free e-book, The Writernomicon, for a list of over 100 blogs that pay guest writers $50 or more per post.
As freelance writers, sometimes we get hired to write about tough topics. I’ve written about mental health issues, domestic violence, rape, and any number of other negative issues. And it can be rough to get through!
However, writing about depressing topics doesn’t have to depress you.
If you stay positive, you can write about any topic — and get paid for it! — without having it affect your day-to-day life.
First, Tackle Your Own Issues
I stayed away from rough topics for a long time because I simply couldn’t deal with them. They messed with my head.
You see, my life hasn’t always been super peachy-keen. I’ve had my fair share of abusive relationships (both physical and mental/emotional) and I was raped when I was twenty-two (not the best way to lose your virginity, lemme tell ya!).
Even talking about mental health issues was a struggle for me at first, because I was so close to the topic. I have severe OCD, Major Depression, General Anxiety, and a mild case of PTSD. And talking about mental health — even though I knew it would help others who were struggling similarly — would send me into panic attacks.
In order to talk about rough topics — especially when they hit SO close to home — you have to deal with your own issues first.
Therapy helps. Also having a strong support network of family and friends who you can speak to openly and honestly.
Don’t keep your past hurts inside of you. Get them out. Talk about them. DEAL with them.
As soon as you start to get a grip on your own traumas, you can better write about them to help other people deal with those situations too!
Or, if you haven’t had any past traumas (lucky you!) then go ahead and skip to step two.
Second, Focus on the Good You’re Doing
The wonderful thing about tackling tough topics is that they almost always help someone in need. And that’s a wonderful feeling.
Instead of focusing on what you’re writing about (the gnarly situations), focus on all the people you’re going to be helping with the information you provide.
I know from experience, that my writing about rough topics does help people. I’ve received countless e-mails from readers telling me that my articles have helped them get through tough situations. I’ve even had a few tell me that my writing stopped them from committing suicide — essentially saving their lives!
You’ll probably never meet the people you help — and not all of them will write to you about it — but they’re out there. Your writing is making a difference.
When you focus on the positive outcome of what you’re writing, rather than the negativity of the topic at hand, it’s really hard to feel terrible during the writing process.
And, if changing the world for the better isn’t enough to keep you positive: you can always focus on the fact that you’re getting paid. It might not be as fluffy feel-good as the other reasons, but money always makes me feel better about the topics I’m writing about lol.
Sometimes, it’s okay to be a little selfish in the name of positivity. For me, knowing that I’m going to have a full fridge to feed myself, my man, and my cat makes me feel a LOT more positive about the writing process. Maybe I’m not as “zen” and free of material needs as I could be, but knowing that I’ll have a full belly after I get paid is great motivation for me to keep going. Food — and other things I can buy — makes me feel happy. And focusing on the fact that I’ll be able to buy those things that give me that happy feeling as soon as I’m done writing keeps me smiling, even when I’m writing about heinous situations.
In short: find something outside of the topic at hand that can keep you going.
Whether you’re helping others, helping yourself, or a mix of both…focus on the positive. You’ll be able to tackle any topic with ease!
This is one of the most important blog posts on this site if you’re serious about freelance writing. Every writer – whether you write fiction or non-fiction – needs to learn how to pitch to editors. Or query them. Or send them a letter of introduction.
So let’s talk a bit about what each of those terms means.
Letter of Introduction (LOI)
This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a letter in which you introduce yourself to the editor/publication. And…that’s about it. You say who you are and mention that you have an interest in writing for them, but you leave it at that. In my experience, LOIs are much less wanted than they used to be – most editors would rather jump straight to the query/pitch. (Though most modern queries/pitches have elements of a LOI in them).
Traditionally, this is a letter written to an editor/publication regarding whether or not it’s acceptable to send in a pitch. However, recently, the term “query” and “pitch” can be pretty much interchangeable (with the meaning more focused on the latter).
This is a letter written to an editor/publication essentially attempting to sell your idea for an article/post/book. You say who you are (the LOI element), and offer up a brief outline of what you intend to write. Most importantly, a pitch should cover why the idea at hand is perfect for the publication you’re writing to. (Editors want to know that their readers are going to be happy with what they’re reading).
The most important thing to remember is to follow the pitching guidelines for whatever publication you’re writing to. If they want a LOI, send them a LOI; if they want a pitch, send them a pitch.
But, in general, you’ll be sending in something that looks a bit like this template:
Though, truth be told, it’s not that hard to write an acceptable pitch. If you’ve got a relevant idea, are polite, and know how to write well — you’ve got a pretty good chance.
In my opinion, it’s almost more important to know what not to do.
How NOT to Get Your Article Published
When you’re a freelance writer looking to get published on blogs or in magazines, the process will generally look like this:
Send in a pitch/query that wows the editor.
Send in your article/guest post.
Or, if things don’t go as well, it might look a bit like this:
Send in a pitch/query that doesn’t wow the editor.
Think up a better idea.
One scenario is more pleasant than the other, but they’re both perfectly normal outcomes. Getting published is part of being a professional writer, but so is rejection.
Unfortunately a lot of writers get rejected for really, really dumb reasons.
Despite What You Might Think, Editors Aren’t Against You!
If you look at the scenarios I’ve listed above, Step One is always the pitch/query. Pitches are extremely important! They’re also where most writers either excel…or get it so, so wrong. And usually they only have themselves to blame.
I’ve been working as the Managing Editor and Community Manager for Be A Freelance Blogger for for a few years now. In that time, I have read thousands of pitches. And I have rejected most of them.
Honestly, it’s the worst part of a nearly-perfect job. I don’t relish rejecting writers. On the contrary, I get so extremely happy when I get a great pitch, I will often call out to my roommate in the next room to say “Someone wrote a good one!!” It’s exciting because, as a writer myself, I know how elated the writer on the other side is going to be when I write back and say “This is awesome.”
I want you to succeed.
But I’m still rejecting far too many pitches. I’d like to change that. Hence writing all this.
I’ve gotten permission to share a few of the e-mails I’ve received in my Managing Editor inbox. That’s right: You’re getting a behind-the-scene’s look at a pitching editor’s inbox.
Here are six ways to NOT get published:
6. You Don’t Know What Guest Posting Is
At least once a month I get an e-mail from someone who thinks they’re applying for a job:
E-mails like this make me sad. Because getting a job rejection is much more painful than getting a pitch rejected. And that’s exactly what these people have convinced themselves is happening — they think I’m denying them a job. All because they don’t know what guest posting is.
When you write a guest post, it’s generally understood that it’s going to be a one-time opportunity. You send in a pitch for one article, then (if all goes well) you get one article published. Everyone moves on with their lives.
Want to get published by that same blog again? You’ll have to pitch another article idea.
Sending in a pitch to a blog or magazine in order to get an article published is not the same as applying for a staff writer position.
5. You Make Unreasonable or Unethical Demands
Every once in a while I’ll get a writer who sends in a list of demands with their pitch. Here’s one from last week:
In the case of the person above, they were demanding that I PayPal them money upfront for their guest post draft. This is unreasonable for a couple of reasons:
I don’t own the blog in question; therefore, I’m not the person who pays anyone.
Be A Freelance Blogger only pays for guest posts if the person pitching has won Pitchfest. (A quarterly article-pitching competition held on the blog).
Basically, if you make any upfront demands that go against the guidelines…you’re being unreasonable. Don’t like the guidelines? Pitch elsewhere! It’s that easy.
No, no, no. Let your writing do the talking, not yourmoney. Attempting to bribe an editor is just…sad. And a bit insulting to both of you! You’re insulting yourself by saying “My writing is so terrible, I have to pay people to read/publish it” and you’re insulting the editor by saying “I think you’re so unscrupulous that you’d be willing to take a bribe.”
4. You’re Just SO Confused
If you’ve read my other articles on the pitching process (scroll back up to the links at the top and check ‘em out if you haven’t), you might remember me sharing the importance of addressing your pitch to the correct person. A lot of other writers who discuss the pitching process will tell you the same thing.
Each person working at a magazine or blog has their own specific role. In the case of a pitching editor, the people who write in are supposed to write in with pitches for potential guest posts. But I end up with a lot of e-mails like this one:
In case you didn’t catch what happened there: This person wrote in to me (the pitching editor) to ask if I knew somewhere else he could send a pitch. That’s like walking into a specialty bakery that makes custom wedding cakes, ringing the bell until an attendant comes, and then saying “Hey! You know where I can buy a cheeseburger?”
General questions/comments are fine to ask…just make sure you send them to the right person.
Fortunately for the person above, my other job at BAFB is “Community Manager,” so writing to me with both pitches and general questions is fine. But that’s not usually the case at most blogs & mags. So be careful! Send your e-mails, pitches or otherwise, to the correct department.
And if you’re wondering where to find paying guest blogging opportunities (as the e-mailer above was), then check out The Writernomicon — it’s FREE and it’s awesome.
3. You’re Impatient
This is related to Number Five, but is in a class of its own.
Take a look at this e-mail:
I underlined the date of the e-mail in red so you could better see the problem. This person wrote in on the 10th and then proceeded to write to me several more times until I got the e-mail above on the 13th saying that if I didn’t respond in 24 hours she would be pitching elsewhere. To reiterate, the 10th to the 13th is three days. Not to mention this person wrote in late Friday night…and I don’t work on the weekends!
Here’s the thing: Even if they don’t explicitly state it, it’s going to take time for an editor to respond to you. They get dozens — sometimes hundreds or even thousands! — of e-mails per week from writers just like you. They didn’t forget you. They’re just busy!
Why would you throw away your chance before you’ve even taken it? You aren’t the only e-mail in the inbox. Wait your turn. Unless you’re positive you have a better prospect waiting for you elsewhere, take the time and go through the proper procedure.
Wait at least a week before nudging an editor. And I know that online a day can feel like a week, but that’s why there’s a timestamp on your e-mails. Check the date before you pester anyone.
2. You Throw a Hissy Fit When You’re Rejected
One rejection doesn’t mean you can never pitch again…unless you act like an a$$hole. Don’t burn bridges!!
Here’s an e-mail from a man who thought I’d made a “huge mistake” when I’d rejected him:
Yeah, I had to cut that one short. His full reply spanned several thousand words, in which he brags about his illustrious career and condemns me for being bad at my job. Apparently I’m not open to “fresh” ideas.
The reason I rejected this person was because they pitched a topic that had nothing to do with freelance blogging — BAFB’s chosen niche/topic. The problem wasn’t that his idea was too fresh, it was that it was irrelevant. And when I asked him if he could find a way to make it relevant he was unable to. Thus, I rejected him.
What isn’t great is wasting time insulting an editor when you could be using that time to come up with another pitch.
But, even though that writer threw an ugly hissy fit upon getting rejected (and wouldn’t stop until Sophie, the Head Editor, reprimanded him!), he is still welcome to pitch again. He eventually apologized. His recent string of successes had inflated his ego to the point that he temporarily lost his mind when I rejected him, but, he’s not a bad writer. Should he come up with a relevant topic, I’d be willing to give him a chance!
The Writernomicon is a list of 50+ publications that pay writers $50 USD or more for writing blog posts as guest writers.
Well, clearly, it’s based on the classic Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft. Even the cover design – by the talented Ramiro Roman – harkens back to potential designs for that fictional tome. And that makes me laugh. And things that make me laugh are awesome, and; therefore, worthy of publication.
However, the “nomicon” suffix that Lovecraft used, once translated as “Book of Names,” seemed fitting for this book as well – since it’s essentially a list of publishers’ names. A book of names…for writers. Writernomicon.
The way you use this “mystical” e-book is entirely up to you. Personally, I like to look up a publisher that seems interesting and then pitch them an article idea. But you could also think of an article idea first and then look up which publisher seems like a good home for it. Up to you!
Do you need help using The Writernomicon to your advantage? Are you wondering how to write the perfect pitch? Or how to create your freelance blogging website?
I now have a class up on SkillShare that covers everything you need to know to get started as a freelance blogger — and it’s only $10! (Normally a mentoring session with me costs $97/hour, so that’s quite a deal!).
In the class, I cover topics like:
How to get over your freelance blogging fears
How to find your area of blogging expertise
How to write the perfect pitch
How to set up your freelance blogging website
What NOT to do
How to get testimonials…
Go check it out by clicking HERE! (affiliate link).
The day before my 32nd birthday last week, I lost my best blogging client due to major layoffs at their company. Normally, I’d keep that fact to myself (it’s generally a good idea not to let anyone know that you’re essentially “jobless”); however, I wanted to write a blog post about this predicament to help others (like you!) and knowing that I’ve “been there” — and so recently! — might be of comfort to some people who view me as such a phenomenal success.
And, I am a success, by all rights. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle from time to time, just like you. It’s not uncommon for me to have to go job hunting. Contracts eventually come to an end. Or, companies have layoffs, and freelancers are always the first to go. That’s just how it is when you’re a freelance writer, “successful” or not!
So what exactly do you do when this happens? Well…
1. Update Your Information
Hopefully, you’ve been keeping your writing portfolio and LinkedIn profile up-to-date this entire time. That way, no one will notice anything’s “wrong” or “different” when you lose your job.
Whenever I see someone whose been inactive on social media for a long time suddenly pop up and start updating everything, I can tell that they’ve lost their job and are desperate for a new one. And desperation gives off a certain “stink” that’s unattractive. That’s why I always encourage my fellow writers to stay on top of these things, even when they’re busy.
But, if you haven’t been staying on top of those things this entire time: it’s okay. Just do what you can and try not to seem too desperate. Don’t beg for work. Just make normal updates. And spruce up anything that you’d formerly neglected.
This is also a good time to ask former clients for testimonials, if you haven’t already. Social proof of how great you are goes a long way toward getting new clients to consider you. Put those on your website!
2. E-mail Your Network
Again: don’t beg anyone for work.
Simply let your writer friends, former clients, and anyone else you think could help you know that you have a gap in your schedule and that you’re on the prowl for a new client.
For former clients, you could ask them if they need your help again (or know anyone who does). For current clients, you could tell them you have some free time and ask them if they need any additional help.
Writer buddies are especially good to tell about your predicament because they understand what you’re going though, as they’ve likely been in the same situation themselves. They’ll empathize. Plus, fellow freelance writers generally have a better grasp over what it is you actually do and can make recommendations more well-suited to your needs.
3. Hit the Job Boards
Man, I hate hitting the job boards. But they really do help.
Most of my clients come to me through my website or as referrals. However, there are times when I can’t simply sit around waiting for someone to fall into my lap — and that’s when job boards are a blessing.
Make a little time each day to scroll through the job boards to see if any new jobs have been added. I like to check once in the morning and once in the evening. That way, as soon as anything that looks good has been added, I can pounce on it immediately. Being the first — or near first — to contact a prospective client/business goes a long way toward getting the job.
4. Stay Positive!
Losing a job, especially one you really liked, can be a huge disappointment. But try not to let it get to you.
As long as you’re still making enough money to have a roof over your head and food in your belly, there’s no need to panic. You might not be able to do anything fun for a while (go to the movies, get a fresh haircut, etc.), but so long as the essentials are taken care of, you’ll be fine. Just make do with what you have and live a frugal lifestyle for a while.
Not only is maintaining a positive attitude better for your overall health, it’s also very attractive. Believe it or not, most humans prefer being around positive people. And that includes prospective clients!
Face each day with optimism and the belief that you will find another job.
After all, you’ve probably been through this before, right? And you survived that time! So you’ll survive this time too. Trust me.
Everything that’s ever been written — from blogs to billboards — was written by a writer, just like you. There are plenty of writing jobs available. New things need to be written every day. Just get yourself out there and KEEP TRYING. You’ll find something.
In the meantime, try to enjoy the fact that you have a little extra free time on your hands. You can use that time to work on some of your other goals, or simply catch up on the chores you’d been putting off back when you were “too busy” to tackle them (I did a MASSIVE amount of laundry the day I lost my job).
Hang in there. Good things are right around the corner!
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