7 Fatal Mistakes Made by New Freelance Writers – DON’T Become an Instant Industry Fatality!

7 Fatal Mistakes Made by New Freelance Writers – DON’T Become an Instant Industry Fatality!

I just graduated and I love to write. I’m also pretty good at it, according to my professors. I’m thinking about putting myself out there, and launching a freelance writing service. Can you tell me about some common mistakes writers make when first starting out? I’d like to avoid them if I can. Thanks!



This is an easy one. 🙂



With the number of website design services and website templates available, there is no excuse for anyone, even a newbie, to have an unprofessional, amateur website. If  you need ideas, look at websites created by professional writers to see their designs, and the options they offer prospective clients. Here are three clean, easy-to-navigate websites created by freelance writers:

Carmine Mastropierro

Elna Cain

Colin Newcomer


All writers need clips but writing for free to get those clips is not advised. Most editors can easily figure out if a site doesn’t pay writers (and, hence, didn’t pay you). Why should they have to pay you when you’re working for someone else for free? And, frankly, those sites contain a lot of really awful writing. Don’t devalue your growing brand by writing for free, nor by associating with those types of companies. Remember, those articles will probably be online for years, if not decades – with your name featured right there at the top. Writing for free also devalues our entire industry.

If you need writing samples to show prospective clients, a better idea is to write high-quality, insightful, error-free articles, and post them to your website. Offer those links to editors to showcase your writing talents.


Don’t make the mistake of failing to research a market before approaching them. Lots of authors send out mass queries that are on topics not covered by a particular publication. Those writers are usually blacklisted and their future emails are automatically routed to spam. Sending out inappropriate queries is a waste of your and every editor’s time.

Also, your query should be correctly formatted, and should not contain any spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. That’s right. ZERO mistakes! Any mistake at all in a query, no matter how small, will tell the editor your future articles will have errors as well. No editor wants to hire a writer whose work will need extensive editing. Editors are busy enough. Sending out queries with errors is a sure-fire way to receive immediate rejections, or no responses at all.


You wouldn’t believe how many queries I receive on topics we have covered in the past, as well as queries about very basic topic that have already been over-covered by industry publications. Using a site’s search box can help you easily discover if they have already published an article about a particular topic. Pitching an idea that was recently covered by a particular publication, or that is already over-covered in a particular industry, or failing to pitch a new twist on an old idea is a sure sign you haven’t researched the publication…or that publication’s industry in general.


When writing your article, if you are in doubt about grammar or punctuation, or how to word or spell a common phrase, Google it. You can almost always find the answer online. It’s rare these days to find a question that hasn’t been answered. You wouldn’t believe how often new writers misspell common words, like lightening (when they mean lightning). And, of course, always utilize your word processing program’s spell- and grammar-checker.


Never, EVER miss a deadline. Instead, submit EVERY story you write BEFORE the deadline. When the editor gives you a deadline, set your own deadline two days prior to that. Get it done even earlier if your workload permits. Editors are far more willing to give additional work to writers who


Don’t treat an editor like he or she is your new best friend. After they respond to you, don’t send them emails of a personal nature. They don’t have time to read about the barbecue you attended last weekend, or the meal you ate at IHOP last night. One writer recently shared with me his very liberal drinking habits. He thought it was funny. I think he needs A.A. Unless they ask you personal questions, or they mention something personal about themselves that you can relate to, keep your conversation strictly business.

If you follow all of these rules, your writing career has a FAR greater chance of being a success. Most folks who think they’re writers don’t do these simple things and they ultimately fail. Putting in a little more effort can help ensure your success in this industry.

Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

Follow Angela: twitter | facebook | linkedin

Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Learn more here: https://24hourshortstorycontest.com/

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