10 Insider Tips for Freelance Writers From Those Who Hire Them

Want to know EXACTLY what you need to gain a writing job from the people that ACTUALLY hire writers?

These freelance writing tips are invaluable information for you.

If you’re a new freelance writer and struggling to find clients, find writing gigs, and impress clients so that they give you glowing testimonials, then learn these tips.

10 Insider Tips for Freelance Writers From Those Who Hire Them

These are insider tips from the mouths of content marketers, directors of content, communication leaders, VPs of marketing, and more.

Whether you’re a newbie or just need some help landing more freelance clients, let’s explore the exact skills, tips, and advice you need to wow potential leads.

Freelance Writers Tips From Potential Clients

I don’t know about you, but I always thought professionalism, promptness, and availability were the only things I needed to know or have.

But there are more freelance writing tips out there!

So, let’s see what heads of content and others look for when hiring – or keeping – freelance writers.

Note: these examples came from a LinkedIn thread from Kelly Dunning, X/Twitter posts and people’s blogs. I’m also working on another post where we dissect what we – the freelance writer – want from clients!

1. Doing What You Say You Will at the Time You Say You Will

Believe it or not, new freelance writers don’t always follow deadlines or make excuses.

I don’t often hire writers, but when I do, I am surprised at how often they make excuses and don’t give me the finished blog post on time.

I always gave them the benefit of the doubt, but after the fifth writer did this to me, I did not accept this behavior.

Lauren Lang, director of content for Uplevel says she looks for writers that commit to what they say they do.

LinkedIn response

She says, “That doing what you say you will do by the time you say you will do it will automatically differentiae you from almost everyone else.”

Copywriter Kelly Dunning is shocked at this simple piece of advice. I mean, if someone tells you they need the article by the end of the week, turn it in three days before that.

It’s best to turn in your work early to avoid creating content bottlenecks for the client.

So, always exceed deadlines, I say.

2. Don’t Significantly Drop Your Rates to Meet the Client’s Budget

This insider tip surprised me. I often feel content marketers are inundated with freelance writing pitches for jobs and can’t remember all of us.

But that’s not necessarily the case. It’s not for the head of content at Drip Emily Blankenship.

LinkedIn response

She says, “I had a lot of freelancers send me their rates last year, and it just wasn’t in the budget for my company…But coming back to me with rates that are at half of what you originally quoted me isn’t going to work for me.

I can understand a freelancer cutting their rates as a way to land a new writing job.

I mean, I have done this, too, but I didn’t cut my rates by half, only a bit.

Emily goes on to say, “I can’t, in good conscience, ask someone to do that. It just doesn’t make sense, and they’re not going to care about what they’re making as much as a client that was paying them what they’re worth.

What she’s telling us is that writers who cut their rates to meet a client’s budget aren’t looking at their service as a valuable addition.

Instead, they see themselves as a commodity only; for many businesses, this isn’t what they want.

But I totally understand why a new freelance writer would take a lower-paying job.

Freelancer Jason Orber even lists some plausible reasons for accepting a lower rate.

Maybe I’m willing to do it at a lower rate for your organization. Maybe I believe in your mission so much I don’t mind. Maybe I have rent due and things are dire so I’m willing to compromise. Maybe I’m willing to invest and play the long game by building a relationship. Maybe you’re the 9th org saying my rates are too high so I’m reevaluating. Maybe I’m privileged and trying to pay it forward. Maybe I’m worried I’ll never work unless I book SOMEthing. Perhaps engage in a “why” conversation before dismissing their 2nd offer with a new rate?

3. Fixing the Same Mistakes Over and Over Again

This may not occur if you’re a new freelance writer, but for seasoned freelancers like myself, it can.

I work with multiple clients, and shifting my thoughts from one client piece to another can be difficult.

Each client has a different style guide, and you must always follow them.

Leah Bodenhamer, content manager at NMI, says she understands first drafts aren’t perfect, but she expects the writing to match the client’s brand voice.

LinkedIn response

 

She says, “Ooh, the biggest one for me is reviewing the final edits I make to each piece and adjusting future drafts accordingly. If I have to make the same edits repeatedly, I’ll start looking for someone else who can learn from my feedback and deliver stronger content in the future. No first draft is perfect (and it never will be), but the ability to adjust your style and voice to match my brand’s needs will absolutely set you apart.

One way to help with this is to create a file for each client and add these guidelines.

This is what Kelly Dunning proposes. “Or, you could even keep a file on each client (whether in a CRM, or in some sort of note-taking software) where you can record notes like this. (For example, “Always use American spellings, never link to X competitor, email subject lines are always lower case, etc.).

4. Don’t Say Yes to Everything

Many new freelance writers fall into this trap.

They want to say YES to everything, and you know what?

That’s pretty much what I did and taught back in the day.

Say Yes to anything and everything in your niche or that you want to learn more about.

Well, nowadays, this isn’t the greatest advice and over the years, I’ve adjusted what I teach new writers.

When you say yes to everything, you risk not actually doing the work because you lack the time.

And this is what Clint Worthington, Director of Customer Success of Rank.io, stresses to freelance writers.

LinkedIn response

He says, “But I’ve run into scenarios where a freelancer will absolutely say yes to everything just to get the gig, but when rubber hits road can’t handle the bandwidth or the specific task (expectations I make clear before we start). It’s totally fine, it’s no hard feelings, and I’ve certainly been in that situation myself. But I encourage freelancers to really ask themselves whether the job’s a good fit, or whether they’ll just say anything to get a gig and hope they can figure it out later.

But what about all the freelance writing opportunities or copywriting jobs that want you to be the one-stop shop for everything?

I’ve seen jobs where they want the freelance writer to write SEO posts and newsletters, transcribe YouTube videos, and research keywords.

Whenever I see a freelance writing job like this, I always turn it down, or I let them know I only do blog writing or email writing, i.e., one thing.

I’m not a content strategist, so don’t treat me like one!

5. Open Line of Communication

I know as a beginner freelance writer it’s hard to ask questions and be upfront with your new freelance clients.

For me, I actually asked too many questions! It was probably my way of calming my anxiety about landing freelance writing work.

But high-paying clients really value YOU – the freelance writer – and they want an open line of communication.

Director of Content Marketing Kellie Davis feels communication is a top skills that her freelance writers she hires should have.

LinkedIn response

She says, “Communication is so big. I always ask up front what is a freelancer’s communication style. I want to know if you’re proactive, solution-oriented, and curious. The most successful freelancers who work with our team keep an open line of communication throughout the project, aren’t afraid to ask questions or gain clarity, and offer feedback or pushback when necessary.

For Kellie, having that open line of communication can indicate wheather or not a freelance writer is proactive or reactive or can solve problems easily.

6. Applying Feedback Given

One thing I pride myself in is taking any feedback I get from editors or content managers and applying that to my next piece.

If applicable, I take that feedback and even use it for my other client pieces.

But many writers don’t do this!

They don’t listen to what the client wants and self-sabotage any writing work for that client again.

Kristen Sweeney, Owner of Every Little Word, values writers’ responsiveness and being easy to work with. She also looks for writers who apply feedback.

LinkedIn response

She says, “Being responsive and easy to work with are huge, for sure. But ultimately, we also need quality work. One thing that goes a long way is applying feedback to future pieces. Our editing process results in comprehensive feedback with lots of context and explanation. If we see application of that feedback and improvement over time, that’s someone we want to keep investing in.”

7. Not Following Instructions

Here’s another basic freelance writing tip: follow your client’s instructions.

And this even starts with the freelance writing job ad on a job board.

Many content managers will include a small, detail-oriented job ad to weed out applicants who don’t pay attention or follow instructions.

For content strategist Akshay Gophalakrishnan, it’s off-putting.

LinkedIn response

Hey says, “Amazing how many don’t follow simple instructions. It’s off-putting for most positions.

This can also apply to the content brief you receive from the client.

The brief may give you a list of URLs to interlink, and you avoid doing this.

Or, maybe you neglected to view the client’s blog to get an idea of how they structured their content, and you submit an article that doesn’t follow their style and brand.

And, there will be times when a client will tell you do so something – don’t link to stats – that isn’t considered a best blogging practice; it’s up to you if you still want to work for them, tell them a better way or just suck it up and follow what they tell you.

It depends on many things, but if they are generally good clients, I will mention it and see how they take it, or else I will just do what they tell me.

8. Being Enthusiastic

I don’t know about you, but if it’s my fifth or twentieth writing gig, I get ecstatic!

I’m happy that the client sought me out, read my pitch, or even connected with me on LinkedIn.

And when they tell me about my article, I get excited.

This ‘vibe’ is exactly what clients want from their writers.

Senior content writer Doris Muthuri is surprised when she doesn’t see writers enthusiastic about working with clients.

LinkedIn response

She says, “It’s surprising how often the basics get overlooked. For me, it’s also about the vibe and enthusiasm they bring. If they’re genuinely excited about the content, it shines through in their writing.

I agree with Doris. When I’m excited about working on my client article, it shows! I write faster and do my absolute best for them because clients can ‘see’ that effort come through.

9. Have a Distinct Writing Voice

For many new writers, this freelance writing tip will take you the longest to develop.

I know that it took me five to six years to develop a distinct writing voice.

Even now, I feel my writing voice has changed – for the better.

Garrett Sussman, Demand Generation Manager at iPullRank, finds writers with an established voice.

X response

He says, “What do I look for when hiring freelance writers? With so much competition, it’s important to establish a voice and expertise on your key topics/niche.

If you struggle with finding the right words or ideas that exude YOU, make sure you are reading.

This is the #1 way to develop a distinct writing voice.

10. Are a Re-Writer

One idea I haven’t heard much is the thought of re-writing.

I think of it as derivative writing…and it’s not a good thing.

So, when I saw VP of AAA Andrew Rosen’s post on X sharing his article what he looks for when hiring writers, I had to check it out.

Andrew Rosen’s article

He says, “[A]lmost everything has been written about in some form or other. The best bloggers can take pre-existing content and quickly put their own spin on it, turning it into 100% original content.

But, this article was published in 2018 – before the rise of AI writing tools.

So, this idea of ‘re-writing’ needs to be adapted.

Instead of taking existing content and ‘spining’ it, you HAVE to approach other people’s ideas with:

  • New angles
  • Different insights
  • A way to branch off on a new idea
  • An inspirational outlook

It’s rare that I view the top posts on a topic I’m commissioned to write for a client.

Sometimes, they give me those top-ranking competitor posts in their content brief, which is when I purposefully DON’T click on those links.

Why?

Because I will unconsciously use that information to base my article off of, and not off MY own ideas and thoughts.

Instead, I will outline and write out the post, and once I’m done, I will check the competitor posts to see if my post is unique enough.

For more help on this type of writing, check out my masterclass Writing a B2B $1,000 Article.

New Freelance Writing Tips for You

I hope you found these freelance tips new and insightful!

Let me know in the comments what tip you found the most helpful and if you go ahead and share any tips you’ve learned from working with clients or pitching to job ads.

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

Leave a Reply

1 Comments

Greetings Elna – You laid out a ton of great information in this post. As a new content writer I especially want to fulfill the expectations of my potential clients. But, it can be overwhelming when I look at all the suggestions. For those of us just to entering the field, what one or two suggestions would you recommend we focus on and master? Thanks!Reply to Jarius