Seven Reasons Writers Don’t Get the Better Paying Writing Jobs

The topic of this series has been how to earn more money as a freelance writer. We’ve touched on some of the higher paying writing fields and discussed The Types of Companies That Need Freelance Writers.

Today, I’m going to cover a slightly more 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. Here are seven mistakes that freelance writers make that can affect whether they’re hired:

  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, many will assume that this is representative of all your work.
  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?
  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.
  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 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.
  6. Not being patient. Marketing a freelance writing business is a lot of work. It can take a lot of contacts 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.
  7. Not even applying. Surprisingly, the reason many freelance writers don’t get a better paying gig is because 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?


  1. says

    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!

    • says


      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.

  2. says

    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 =-.

  3. says

    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? =-.

  4. says

    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.


  5. says

    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.

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