Freelance work of all kinds, including writing, is growing exponentially. Companies are down-sizing traditional employees and moving to freelance and contract work to save money.

There is a good reason for hiring freelancers who will work remotely. Many employers say that the talent pool online is better and larger than what they can find locally. Overhead costs are also lower when contract workers telecommute.

Starting a freelance writing business is cheap and easy. And high-quality writers are in demand across many industries. Content creation is only less valuable than web programming and graphic design.

Freelance writing is so appealing to workers because the start up costs are practically nil. However, there are hidden costs and fees that can add up if you aren’t paying attention. Here are three examples.

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There are bloggers that write because they love something, and bloggers that write because they hate something. Some people blog because it earns them money, and some blog just to vent. But it’s also a great way to promote yourself as a freelance writer.

Many people today think that blogging is either a waste of time or over-rated. But it’s actually a great way to build up a reputation as a writer.

In order to land clients for your freelance writing skills, you need to have a gallery of work. You have to show them your ability and style for them to decide if you’re a good fit. Your blog is a chance for buyers to see samples of your writing before they hire you. When you write for your blog, you write about a topic you pick while simultaneously building your writing portfolio.

There are plenty of writers who blog just to practice their writing skills, but they don’t realize that it’s also a way to get more work and to build their network of writers and potential clients. You’ll gain a lot more attention from potential clients with a fresh, interesting, and grammatically correct blog than you will as just a writer with a website.

Use your blog to show everyone what you can do and what your writing is all about. In addition to showing off your writing, it’s good practice. Your writing will improve the more you work at it.

So don’t believe those who say that blogging is a waste of your time. Freelance writers should see blogging as a chance to improve their career.

Whatever field you write in, as a freelancer you control your ability to earn. You control what jobs you take, and you can ignore any client or project where your rates aren’t met. But if you want to make more as a freelancer, you have to do more work and try for more jobs. You’ll have carefully choose where you compete for work.

In order to determine if you should take a particular client at a given rate, you need to know how much money you need to earn.

Calculate your expenses so that you know how much your writing needs to earn you in a year. Make sure that you include all of your expenses. Don’t leave anything out. Here is a list of common household expenses:

– Mortgage/Rent. – Groceries – Transportation – Personal care expenses (toiletries, clothing, shoes, etc.) – Health insurance – Retirement savings – Credit card and other loan payments – Office supplies and Internet connection – Utility bills – Marketing and personal development costs

Add of these expenses and add anything else your family needs that wasn’t on the list. Calculate for 12 months. Then divide this number by 1,000 hours. This way, you can find how much you need to earn in about 21 billable hours every week.

These billable hours are the time you spend actually working on paying assignments. This work might be actual writing, research, conceptualizing and thinking, editing, and proofreading.

That doesn’t mean you only work 21 hours a week. It means you spend the rest of your time on non-billable administrative tasks. Most freelancers split their time fifty/fifty between billable and non-billable hours.

Administrative tasks include sending out query letters, putting in bids, promoting and marketing your website, tracking expenses, sending out invoices, etc.

Depending on the contracts you negotiated and the topics you are discussing, talking with clients on the phone or through email may or may not be considered billable hours. For example, time you spend negotiating a price would not be billable hours, but consulting time would be, if this is discussed in your contract.

If you’re only a part-time freelancer, you will need to adjust the figures. If you have a job while starting out as a freelancer, you can adjust your necessary earnings to allow for what you bring in from your job and reduce the available billable hours. Or you might choose to work just part-time as a freelancer without another job.

Some freelancers never move to full time. A parent staying home with children, for example, especially when supplemented by spousal income, doesn’t need or want to work a full forty hours. But by earning more each hour that you do work, you can turn part-time freelancing into full-time pay.

Once you start marketing your pieces or applying for writing positions, you will need to have an idea of how long certain types of writing take you to finish.

Let’s say you can write and edit an 800 word article in around 3 hours, with the research for this article taking you about 2 hours. This gives you five billable hours for 800 words.

Then if you find a magazine which publishes 1,600 word pieces, you know it will take you 10 hours to produce one article. That’s $1600 in 10 hours. That’s $160 per billable hour. While publishers don’t pay freelance writers by the hour, you would need to work out an hourly rate for your budget.

If you’re trying to reach an annual earnings goal of $40,000, and you are a full-time freelancer, you need to be making about $40 per billable hour. If you can sell articles to that publication, you would be making four times what you need. Some publishers pay more, and some pay less. In the end, the important part is that it all balances out.

None of this is set in stone. As your portfolio gets larger and your skill set increases, you can earn more money and have more fun with your writing.

The biggest three mistakes freelance writers make can be easily avoided once you know what those mistakes are. I’m about to tell you what they are so you can be among the writers who don’t make those mistakes.

The world of freelance writing contains two types of people. The first type is enthusiastic about writing, makes money from it, and overall just loves being a writer. This writer likely has a long and successful career ahead of him due to the demand for high-quality writers.

The second type of writer is more depressed about his writing and nervous about his future. This type of writer doesn’t know why he writes or whether he should be writing at all. In fact, he doesn’t spend much time writing at all because he spends too much time worrying about it.

Here are three biggest mistakes in freelance writing that you have to avoid.

First Mistake: Not Writing Enough

Most of the problems that freelance writers deal with stem from failing to write enough.

How do you know when you’ve written enough?

That really depends on the amount of time you devote to writing. If you have only 15 minutes in your day that you can spend on writing, then try to write a page every day. If you have an hour, you should try to write four or five pages. If you have an hour in your day that you could spend writing, and don’t use it to produce four pages, you’re make one of the three biggest mistakes in freelance writing.

Mistake Two: Not Submitting Your Work

Freelance writers write in order to sell their work. If you have half-finished pieces (or worse, finished articles) sitting around on your computer, figure out why. Is that because writing is just your hobby? If that’s what you want, that’s okay. Enjoy your writing. But in that case, you aren’t a freelance writer, you’re a hobbyist.

But if you want to be a freelance writer and make money from your writing, selling has to be as much a part of your day as writing. Try to sell something every single day. Failing to sell is the second biggest mistake of freelance writing.

Mistake Three: Not Marketing Your Skills

This is linked to the second mistake. If you aren’t promoting and marketing your skills and work, you won’t sell anything. There are endless opportunities to promote your writing. There’s advertising, press releases, cold and warm sales calls, and more.

Not selling your skills is as big a mistake as not selling your work itself. Promoting and marketing are vital. Failing to do these things is the final biggest mistake in freelance writing.

Those three mistakes, again, were failing to write enough, failing to submit your work, and failing to market yourself to clients. If you avoid making these mistakes, you’ll become an enthusiastic and successful freelance writer in no time.