Free Advice Friday: Ways to Ruin Your Freelance Reputation

What I’m listening to: Black Yodel by J.D. Malone and the Experts

check-mate-3-1545475-1280x960Wow, what a week. I had a few things to do and I was thinking I’ll just cruise right into my vacation.


Yesterday, the work came in. Revisions on a big project will take up today. An article for another client has to be fit into the schedule somewhere, too. And…another article assignment that I may have to turn down showed up. The editor is doing his best to get the sources to me before I head out of town.

On Wednesday, when I thought I had so much free time, I cruised the forums and blogs a bit. Per usual, there were some pretty awesome posts and discussions. And per usual, there were plenty of discussions that were loaded with crappy advice that I suspect is untested. If a writer were to follow some of it, I wouldn’t think they’d be in business long.

An exaggeration on my part? Not really. But let’s see what you think:

Flatter those social media influencers! Because those poor people haven’t been swamped with false platitudes already. Sure, just go on and compliment the snot out of someone who’s never heard of you, and make sure you lay it on thick so that you can get them to retweet your stuff…Seriously, do people think this actually works? Fact — most people are lousy at building relationships and are way too aggressive when reaching out to these influencers. Just. Stop. If you want to get to know them, do. But don’t expect anything in return. Earn the trust and build a friendship. That’s infinitely more important than kissing up in hopes of gaining some traffic.

Learn freelancing here! I thought it was neat to see a new face in freelancing…that is, until I realized this was someone who was teaching something she’d never done. Ever. As I read the bio of the person in question, I realized this is no writer at all — this is a marketer. While I’d say she’s good at selling the sizzle, eventually there needs to be, well, a steak behind it. I don’t know about you, but I’d really rather not learn how to run a freelance writing business from someone who hasn’t actually done so.

Play the numbers game! Okay, this one isn’t entirely wrong. In order to get clients, you should be reaching out to more of them. However, if you shoot strictly for a set number — say, 100 per week — you’re clearly not vetting your prospects. If you go strictly for volume, yes, you may get one or two more clients, but are they the kind of clients you want to attract? Do your homework. And yes, do increase how many people you reach out to, but keep it manageable (and that number is entirely up to you) — you have to follow up with them too, remember. Who wants to dial that phone 100 times each week or send out that many follow-up emails?

If you write fast, six cents a word is acceptable! Yes, this was an argument someone made on a forum to a post about low-paying content mill work. What this person fails to see is that yes, a writer can write that fast, but this job has nothing to do with speed and everything to do with skill. Plus doing grunt work like this isn’t any way to send the message to clients, or yourself for that matter, that you are a serious professional. If you start agreeing to and justifying the sh*t jobs, that’s exactly what your freelance writing career will smell like.

Do you agree? If not, why not?

In what ways do you see writers compromising their business reputations?

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