7 Reasons Writers Don’t Get Better Paying Writing Jobs

writer mistakes

Today, I’m going to cover a slightly sensitive topic. Today’s topic deals with mistakes that writers make that can keep them from being selected for better-paying gigs.

Seven Mistakes That Can Affect Whether You’re Hired

There are times when you aren’t selected for a writing project, and it isn’t your fault. There’s a lot of competition out there, and not everyone can be chosen all the time.

However, there are other times when you aren’t chosen for a better-paying writing job because you could have handled something better. It’s not an easy pill to swallow, but we need to face the reality. Sometimes, you just need to be better!

Here are seven mistakes that freelance writers make that can affect whether you’re hired or not:

1. Not managing your online brand

Some writers don’t realize that everything that they post or publish online becomes part of their online brand. You should take it for granted that potential clients will do a search on your name (whether you want them to, or not). If most of what comes up in that search is poorly written or unprofessional (including social media), many will assume that this is representative of all your work.

So, the next time you’re ready to get that tweet out, give it another look and make sure you’re on-brand.

2. Not networking with potential clients

It’s great to be involved in social media. Interaction with peers online can be a great way to learn and share. For social media to pay off in terms of getting gigs, your contacts should also include current and potential clients. Take a look at who you’ve friended and followed online. Does the list include anyone who could give you work?

Social media has given us an opportunity to connect with potential clients like never before. We don’t even have to physically present! 🎉

So take advantage of this medium and network your heart away.

3. Not having an online presence at all

There are still a few freelance writers who don’t have an online presence. While it is still possible to find freelance writing work without a blog or online portfolio, not having either does make it harder for clients to find you. Also, not being online could cause a potential client to assume that you don’t have the current experience or updated skills that are needed to do the job.

4. Not projecting yourself as a professional

Every contact that you have with a prospective client, from the time that they first run across your name right up to the time that you finish a project for them, needs to be courteous and professional. Anything less, and the client is likely to find someone else (who does project a professional image) to work with.

Here are five key ways to project professionalism in your interactions with prospective clients:

  1. Be prompt and responsive, valuing their time and delivering excellent service.
  2. Use polite and clear communication, ensuring respectful and professional language.
  3. Personalize your communication, addressing clients by name and tailoring responses to their needs.
  4. Stay knowledgeable and well-informed, sharing insights and demonstrating expertise.
  5. Set clear expectations, outlining scope, timelines, and terms to avoid misunderstandings.

Read this guide to master the art of client communication.

5. Not following through

Follow-up is a weak point for many writers. You should be checking in regularly with former clients, with companies who have expressed an interest in your services (but have not yet hired you), and with those you meet who might eventually need a freelance writer. It’s not unusual for a writer to work for a client once and never check back with them to see if they have more work.

Not convinced? Read this true story of how a freelance writer landed a client worth $450+ per article because of a follow-up email!

Need tips? Here’s how you can follow up effectively on clients.

6. Not being patient

Marketing a freelance writing business is a lot of work. It can take a lot of contact with a potential client over a long period of time before you are given the chance to work on a project with them. It’s somewhat rare for a freelance writer’s job-hunting efforts to achieve instantaneous success, yet that’s what many of us expect. When it doesn’t happen, we get frustrated.

🔑 Patience is key. (But follow up!)

7. Not even applying

You’ll never win if you don’t play, right? Surprisingly, the reason many freelance writers don’t get a better-paying gig is that they don’t apply when one comes up. When we notice a high-paying freelance writing project, some of us tend to talk ourselves out of applying for it. But, the truth is that you won’t be selected for a job if you aren’t even in the running for it.

Feedback Time

I’ve shared seven mistakes that keep freelance writers from getting better-paying gigs, can you think of more?

Related Articles:

👍🏾 How to earn more money as a freelance writer

👍🏾 Higher paying writing fields

👍🏾 Types of companies that need freelance writers

This post was originally published in April 2010 and updated May 2024.






9 responses
  1. Heiddi Avatar

    Add “not building relationships with other writers” to your list. Some view fellow writers as the competition rather than business connections. Because of my relationship with other writers, both online & offline, I’ve been referred to new clients and been offered contracting jobs. Yes, we all write and to a certain degree, we do compete for jobs, but we need relationships with other writers. Not just for networking purposes or possible gigs, but for support and advice. I know that I’ve gained a tremendous amount of advice, support and friendship from networking. Once again, a post that hit home. 🙂 Happy Friday!

  2. Laura Spencer Avatar

    Thanks Heiddi!

    That’s definitely a good addition. I’ve gotten jobs through referrals from other writers in the past (and expect I will again). Getting along with your peers is definitely important. 🙂
    .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Should You Write Your Own Copy? =-.

    1. Paul Avatar


      I think confidence is also an issue. A freelancer needs to keep sluggling as I like to say. Sometimes after hearing a series of no reponse or no frequently, you just want to quit applying for jobs.

  3. allena Avatar

    This might apply only to a small number of freelance writing businesses, but you have to be willing to let go a little. By this, I mean two things:

    1) You may have to let go of that smaller, time-consuming client. Yes, I know they’ve bolstered you and have been the scaffolding to your career. I know it’s hard….but if you want to move up, without working more hours, something’s got to give.

    2) You have to be willing to let go of complete control. There are publishers who want to assign out large swaths of work- it makes things easier on their end- and taking that work might mean you have to act like a manager, instead of a writer, because there’s no way you can do it yourself. You have to be willing to subcontract and hire others, and that’s a harder thing than it sounds. (*I realize some people are not interested in this specific type of work, but I’m going along with the theme of “high paying.” These are great jobs because managing takes less of your time than producing, so you can pay your bills, and still write other projects.)
    .-= allena´s last blog ..Freelance Writing Blogs: Cream of the Crop Posts =-.

  4. Rachel Rueben Avatar

    Here’s one: Having multiple ways of reaching you. Some people don’t want to email you or join your IM list. Writers have to understand there are old schoolers who will still fax, send snail mail, and (gasp!) use the phone. I had all this happen just recently. I found it annoying, but not as annoying as being without work!
    .-= Rachel Rueben´s last blog ..Who’s the Boss? =-.

  5. LIsa Avatar

    Do remember, too, that the web isn’t the world. Networking with actual human beings – at the PTA meeting, at the coffee shop, at the gym – can yield good results. So, too, can joining actual organizations and going to in-person meetings and events. Keep your ears to the ground locally: are new businesses starting up and in need of marketing materials? Has a non-profit launched a campaign that might need some grant writing support?

    It’s not all on the Net.


  6. Laura Spencer Avatar

    Great discussion!

    I think there’s a lot of collective wisdom here.

    It’s also important to remember that we are speaking in generalities here. 🙂 An individual writer might have more specific issues to address…
    .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Should You Write Your Own Copy? =-.

  7. Susan Avatar

    Agreed. For me, flexibility has always been key. That’s how I’ve landed large projects I technically wasn’t qualified for. I was willing to pick up the pieces when someone bailed, willing to put in the time to figure it out, willing to work twice as hard to make it work.

    I think it also has to do with using every rejection as a stepping stone. Instead of just writing them off my list of potential contacts, I try to find out why I was rejected. Was it timing? The pitch? The material? The project? The more you’re willing to follow-up, the more they’re usually willing to keep you on their list.

    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Great point about flexibility Susan!

      I love your approach about trying to find out why you were rejected. I could be wrong, but I don’t think too many writers do that.
      .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Should You Write Your Own Copy? =-.

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