Nervous About New Freelance Writing Gig

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:

Dear Jodee,

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.





3 responses
  1. Susan Gunelius Avatar

    Jodee, This is great advice! I can’t wait to read the next installment of your Freelance Writing Advice Column!

  2. Steve Avatar

    Congratulations on the assignment!

    My advice is to do the best you can.

    You used a key word: “opportunity”. Make the most of it.



  3. Budding Freelancer Avatar
    Budding Freelancer

    Dear Jodee,

    First of all, I must apologize for not using my real name in the required field. I am a little bit concerned, in this world where all information is available to everyone, that my employer might possibly stumble across this. And so begins my question…

    I am currently employed as an editor of a magazine that is on its last legs. In the years that I have been at my company, I have seen many periodicals fold and I fear mine is next. Maybe in a year. Maybe two. Who knows? Regardless, as much as I love the work, I do want to be productive about my next move. So, with all that said, I want to start a freelance writing/editorial business but don’t know where to start. I can’t very well just up and quit my job and hope that everything will be ok. That would be crazy in this economy. I guess I’m just looking for a few starter tips. I guess I’m also looking for someone to tell me it’s ok to want to take the plunge, as long as I do so smartly.

    At any rate, I’m here at so that’s gotta be a step in the right direction!

    Congrats on the column!

    -Budding Freelancer

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