The 7 Deadly Sins of Freelance Writing

You may already know that greed, envy, lust, pride, wrath, gluttony, and sloth are characteristics to avoid; if you fall …

You may already know that greed, envy, lust, pride, wrath, gluttony, and sloth are characteristics to avoid; if you fall prey to these transgressions, you run the risk of… all sorts of bad things, really.

While you’re likely familiar with The 7 Deadly Sins (whether you agree with them or not), have you heard about the 7 Deadly Sins you really need to know about?

Here’s what not to do as a freelance writer.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Freelance Writing

These are the offenses you need to avoid as a freelance writer.

If you fall prey to one or more of these, you run the risk of killing your freelance business before you even really begin.

Rushing

Being able to rush through your work and produce high quality is a rare skill. Honestly, most of us don’t have it. When we rush, we generally can’t produce our best work; we risk having errors.

Though you probably work with an editor, whose job it is to check your work, do you think your editor wants a piece (that they paid you for) that’s full of grammar and spelling issues?

Or a story that falls off at the end and doesn’t feel finished?

Nope.

They don’t want that. And they can probably tell that you’ve rushed- editors are very smart, you know!

Meeting deadlines is great, but if you rush your work because you waited too long (our next deadly sin), then you may end up getting a bad reputation for low-quality work.

Remember, our contracts don’t have to be renewed, and there are plenty of people looking for freelance work.

Don’t lose a job because you worked quickly and produced poor quality content.

Procrastination

Ahh, the next deadly sin: procrastination.

We’re probably all guilty of it at some point in time- perhaps you went through your entire college career procrastinating.

For me, it was high school.

And I clearly remember all the stress and drama at the last minute as I tried to figure out how I was going to get my assignment done.

You may think that working right up until the deadline and having to produce work quickly lights a fire under you.

Maybe you think that you get most inspired at the last minute.

While that might partially be true, and you can be creative under pressure, you’re also forcing yourself to rush.

We already said that rushing is sin #1, and if you haven’t realized, procrastination and rushing are in an evil relationship together trying to bring down your freelance career.

Don’t let them!

Casualness

So, listen. Freelance work is awesome.

I sit at home (or Starbucks) in my pajamas (at home- I get dressed for Starbucks!).

The work environment is pretty chill. It’s casual.

But guess what?

That casualness should not extend into your interactions with your prospective and current employers.

Why?

Because freelance writing is still work, and if you want this to be your career, you need to approach it like a professional.

I’m not saying that you need to start your emails with “Dear Mr. Fancy Pants” or make your email communication more complicated than it needs to be.

What I’m saying is that you should refrain from things like “Hey!” or skipping the greeting altogether. Instead, continue to be polite, courteous, and appropriate in your interactions, especially email.

Because email lives forever.

Keep in mind that over time, as you establish a relationship with clients, you can probably get a bit more relaxed in how you communicate, but if you want to get paid to write, your relationship and interactions should remain professional.

Don’t fall prey to casualness, or you might casually get the boot from a freelance writing job.

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Non-organization

We’ve talked about scheduling your day as a freelancer and the importance of organization.

Do you know what happens as a freelancer when you fall into the non-organization trap?

I’ll tell you:

  • Missed deadlines
  • Lack of receiving payment
  • Negative impact to relationships with your editor(s)
  • Articles written about the wrong topic
  • You end up in a relationship with Procrastination and Rushing

Basically, it’s bad.

As a freelancer, not only are you responsible for doing your work (like any other job!), but you also have the task of managing yourself, your schedule, and possibly numerous clients and jobs.

If you know that organization is not your strength, rather than teetering on the edge and falling into the pit of non-organization (which is hard to crawl out of!), take the time to get organized at the start of your freelancing and find, or create, systems that work for you.

Stubbornness

Some people might say that stubbornness is a positive trait.

It helps you dig in, not give up, and may help you pursue and persist in challenging situations.

That’s nice, but that’s not the version of stubbornness you need to look out for.

No, this stubbornness is things like:

  • Not learning from ongoing rejection
  • Being unwilling to develop our skills
  • Ignoring or overlooking potential assignments because they’re not “perfect”
  • Thinking that we don’t need help from others in this freelance journey
  • Pushing back against editors when they give feedback

These types of stubborn behaviors will hold you back from being a successful freelance writer and may give you a bad name.

Think editors don’t talk?

They do.

And you want them to talk about you because you’re good, not because you’ve succumbed to one of the sins.

Fear

Fear can be healthy; it often serves a purpose. It helps to keep us alive and out of some very serious situations.

But when it comes to being a freelancer, there is no room for fear.

Do you fear rejection, that your work isn’t good enough, or that you’re not skilled enough?

All of those negative thoughts can stop your writing in its tracks. Fear can hold you back from pursuing challenges, pitching a new publication, or following up after rejection.

Fear creates worry and doubt, which take up mental energy and consume our thoughts. Since writing and crafting your articles is a cognitive endeavor, we pretty much need to kick fear to the curb so we have the mental capacity to do our work.

Self-Loathing

This is fear’s cousin.

And he’s looking right at you.

Telling yourself that you’re not smart, that your writing is terrible, that you’ll never get the job; all of that self-loathing is no good.

There’s no room for it here.

Yes, freelance writing can be hard, and being critical of yourself can help you to produce good work. But, if all you do is nitpick your writing, analyze why it’s not good enough, and tell yourself that you basically suck- well, you’re walking the world hand-in-hand with self-loathing and you’re probably about to bump into fear soon.

Knock it off!

There’s no need to give in to any of the 7 Deadly Freelance Writing Sins.

If you feel one of them creeping up on you: stop, drop, and roll.

Seriously.

Stop what you’re doing.

Drop that terrible behavior that’s going to get in the way of your freelance success.

Roll into a new way of doing things.

You got this!

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