Welcome to the first installment of FWJ’s freelance writing advice column. We invite your questions about anything to do with freelance writing, and will strive to provide you with helpful information. Here is today’s question:
I’ve just been hired for a gig that I’m really excited about and I’ve received my first set of instructions. I have to admit that I’m nervous about this; I don’t want to miss anything and ruin this opportunity.
What can I do to get rid of the jitters?
Dear Jittery Writer,
First of all, congrats on getting the new gig. The first thing I would suggest is that you take some time out to do happy dance, call your mom or your best friend, tweet about it, etc. Go ahead; I’ll wait.
The reason I said to start with something celebratory is to get rid of some nervous energy. Once you have done that, you can focus more easily on what the client would like you to do. Read through the instructions you have been given a couple of times. If it helps for you to print them off and highlight or underscore some points, do so. If you have questions about the assignment, now is the time to ask them.
Once you have completed the assignment, use the instructions as a checklist to go through before you turn it in. Don’t forget to use spellcheck and read your work over as well. It’s a good idea to use a plagiarism checker if the work is going to be used online.
It can be tempting to rush through the work to get it turned in sooner to try to impress a new client, but doing so increases the likelihood that you will miss something. With one of my first writing gigs, I didn’t read the instructions carefully enough and turned in something that didn’t even come close to the word count the client was looking for. He got back to me to say that while he liked what I had written so far, he was wondering if I had read the instructions. Ouch! The client was good enough to allow me another chance at the assignment, but it was a lesson well learned.
The jitters at taking on something new may never entirely go away, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a sign that you are excited about your work and that you aren’t burned out. Just don’t let them get the better of you or in the way of you showing a client what you can do.
Do you have questions about freelance writing? Share them in the comments below for consideration for a future column.