11 Ways to Doom Your Freelance Writing Career

11 Ways to Doom Your Freelance Writing Career

The realities of freelance writing can be daunting, and sometimes the challenges of creating a writing business can seem insurmountable. There has to be an easier way!

Luckily, there is: aim low.

Let’s take a closer look at strategies that diminish your chances of progressing as a writer.

If building a successful freelance writing business is not on your agenda, pay attention and start taking notes.

1. Write for content mills

Their business model isn’t viable, and you’ll wind up earning peanuts and drowning in the deepest obscurity. You’ll probably turn up on Google’s umpteenth search results page. But won’t those clips look good in your portfolio? Unlikely.

2. Waste your time and money selling yourself short on bidding sites

If you want to avoid being paid a fair wage for an article, try lurking around sites like Freelancer, Elance, and oDesk. You’ll earn a fabulous $3 to $15 per hour regurgitating articles on topics you loathe. Do the math to see how many hours you’d need to work to make a comfortable living. Yeah…that’s what I thought.

3. Procrastinate

Since you’re aiming for failure, keep postponing the outlining of your next article and delay reading that blogging ebook you downloaded for free ages ago. Have yet another snack, watch another episode of your favorite show and leave it all for tomorrow. Lather, rinse and repeat.

4. Expect to learn everything you need to know to grow your freelance writing business for free

Why pay for an online training session? It’s way too expensive. None of those “online gurus” practice what they preach. You’ll never see the return on your investment.

If you do go for it and pay for a webinar or course, and the trainer makes the effort to provide you with a recording, be ungrateful and never ever listen to it.

5. Don’t hire a mentor

Do you feel like you know it all? If you think you have all the answers, try writing a solid resource post with no research at all. Without consulting anybody else or asking for advice or feedback. You don’t need someone else’s guidance to help you with your strategy.

Keep admiring your role models from afar. Daydream about eventually becoming one of them without ever having to lift a finger.

6. Be a writer in a vacuum

Ignore the writing community. Don’t interact with your fellow writers. Attending networking events? Too expensive. Connecting with others on social media? Takes time away from your Fruit Ninja routine.

After all, other freelance writers are your competition, so what could you possibly learn from them? You sure don’t want to share any of your brilliant ideas, and they probably won’t either.

7. Treat your business like a hobby

Write only when you feel like it. If you’re not feeling inspired today, you don’t need to force your brain cells to produce any content. Nothing will come out of trying to brainstorm or free-write or using a prompt from another writer (see #6).

If you go out to get some fresh air, leave your notebook at home. Why would you jot down any new ideas that might come to mind?

8. Shy away from starting a blog to build your brand

After all, if you started a blog, you’d have to deal with readers and work on building an audience. And then you’d have to engage with that audience.

The commitment of starting a blog, updating it regularly and producing awesome content to attract subscribers is way more than you can handle.

9. Complain about how hard it is to be a freelance writer these days

You’re absolutely sure that none of the writers who’ve published their income reports are telling the truth. How can they earn that much when you’re still seeing nada in the bank?

They must be using some trick. Make sure you criticize them publicly on social media and in the comments section of various blogs.

10. Definitely don’t market yourself

That guest blogging thing? Too much of a hassle. Pitching guest post ideas to bloggers you didn’t want to connect with in the first place is the worst idea ever.

There are at least 100 ways to market your blog, but it’s easier to just ignore them all.

11. Give up

Earning a comfortable living as a freelance writer is impossible, so you might as well quit now.

There you are: 11 strategies that will blow your chances of ever creating a solid freelance writing career. Putting them into practice would be pretty simple, and would free you from the constraints of the writing life so you could move onto other pursuits, like checking out what your old chemistry lab partner is up to on Facebook, or reading up on the latest celebrity scandal.

It’s your call!

What are some other surefire ways to fail at freelance writing? Share your ideas in the comments!

Filed Under: Freelancing


  • So besides pushing your own strategy guide for freelance writers, what other tips do you have? I mean, you say don’t do freelance sites, well where do you find work then?

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think the majority of freelance writers are going to have people flocking to their sites because they have a blog, clamoring for their services because they use social media, or singing their praises because they’re read your guidebook.

    I’ve made thousands of dollars off freelance sites this year, and while it’s true that you don’t always write about the most exciting things, I’m not complaining.

    I just don’t see you really putting out any alternatives, and if this is your idea of how a guest post is supposed to spread your credibility, then I’m sorry, but it’s failed.

    • Anca Dumitru says:


      I see you are prolific writer and novelist. I’m surprised though that despite the number of books you’ve written you still work with bidding sites. And if you make thousands of dollars from these sites, then good for you!

      You’re right that people won’t flock to your site just because you have a blog.

      I hate to burst your bubble (yet again, apparently), but the answer to your question about where to find work is discussed in #10: guest blogging and marketing. This is how clients *find you* and *come to you*, if you position yourself properly.

      That’s the approach that works for me and, thankfully, my clients have no issue as far as my credibility goes.

      I’m sure my above list isn’t exhaustive. If you’d like to come up with your own set of alternatives on how to become a successful freelance writer, why not do so in a guest post right here? I’m sure The Write Life folks would be more than excited to welcome your guest post.

  • Michael Dempsey says:

    Hmmm…two out of the 11 claim you will fail as a writer if you don’t spend money on services such as the author provides…?

    • Anca Dumitru says:


      What I’m saying is that launching a freelance writing business means you have to learn how to do that: buy an e-book, if the existing free ones don’t give you enough information on how to start, join a writers community and pay for the membership, attend trainings, seminars, events. And yes, all that costs money. But I’d rather consider them an investment that brings value in the long run.

  • Great post, Anca!

    I can especially relate with freelance writers not wanting to start a blog or market themselves; it’s one thing a lot of people hate but will have to do at one point or the other, so why not do it sooner?

    Best Regards,

  • Emelia says:

    Hi Anca,

    Everything you said is correct-the definite surefire ways to fail in freelance writing. I’ve been freelancing through content mills for nearly a year and I know it is a waste of time.

    • Anca Dumitru says:

      Well, Emelia, then it’s about time to move away from them. I see you have a neat website with a few posts already up.

      Try start approaching sites that accept guest posts, just like this one. Choose any of the 100+ ways to market your services I refer to in the above post. Anything that you feel would work for you at the moment where you are right now. To learn more, subscribe to similar blogs like Carol Tice’s “Make a Living Writing” or Sophie Lizard’s “Be a Freelance Blogger.” Best of luck! You’ll get there.

      • Emelia says:

        Thanks Anca, I am subscribing to the blogs you suggested and I am learning a lot. I am preparing myself to start approaching sites for guest blogging. I will come back here as soon as I get a chance to read some of your old blogs.

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