I thought about having to share the moment with someone who started about this same time when most freelance writers are afraid of launching forth, with many only limiting themselves with wrong beliefs. I do hope you’ll find my interview with Katarina, not merely as a courage booster, but also as a career helper.
1. It used to be said (or maybe it’s just my opinion) that freelance writing gig is saturated already. Do you agree?
I believe that it is actually growing. In the internet era, freelance jobs became something normal, and writers who can produce quality content are needed more than ever. You won’t be starving especially if you’ve additional skills to offer (e.g. CMS administration, SEO Optimization, audience growth, customer psychology, etc).
I can agree with you that there are many people in the writing field these days, but isn’t that the case in any other field?
2. What’s your opinion about bidding sites? Do you think there are still serious high-paying clients on there? What should freelance writers do to raise their rate?
While bidding sites have some drawbacks, I still love them; you have access to a bunch of people and companies that need the service you are offering. It is the easiest way to get into freelancing if you know how to present yourself good enough. Sure, there are many other people sending their proposals, but in my eyes, there is no huge difference between applying for jobs found on classical job boards and on bidding sites. Except, on bidding sites, you do it more often, especially if you are taking small projects.
Yes, there are many quality clients out there. Not everyone is searching to pay as less as possible. And then again, some clients actually just want to hire a freelancer to do the job. I’ve seen many scams on bidding sites, and I have seen many scam jobs looking like the real job. With time, you just learn to recognize them and after that you just ignore them and scroll down the feed, or report them.
For raising rates, I think it differs from person to person. My rule: “If you think you should earn more, raise the rate, and stick to it for each new proposal and client.”
Of course, if you start with 5$, it is hard to raise the rate to 50$ overnight. Click To Tweet If you are the client, would you hire a freelancer that billed the previous person 5$ but offers his services to you for 50$?
3. How old is your freelance writing business on Upwork and what is the success rate like?
I started in January 2016, it has been 8 months now. But, I had previous experience that I used to build my profile and portfolio. I spent the first few months writing samples, editing my profile until I got “Rising talent” badge, writing proposals, and rejecting offers to work for free or some small amount just for a review.
Success rate – If I write 20 proposals, I can expect that I will get few interviews and one of these jobs.
4. Are you a native English speaker? If not, what specific tricks do you use to convince job advertisers about your ability to deliver?
No, I am not. If they ask for a native speaker in the job Ad, in most cases, I will not send a proposal. I am not lying on my profile, it says I am fluent in English. Also, I did few grammar tests that say I’m in top 20%-30% percent (depending on the test).
There were few exceptions where job posters didn’t request only native speakers, but one of their questions were “Are you a native speaker?” What I do in such situation, I tell them that I am not, but that they can check my test results. I also mention where am I on the Cambridge English language scale.
5. What are the common mistakes you see beginner writers making repeatedly?
They start with the lowest possible price range because they heard that most people start that way. They willingly put themselves in “I work for the peanuts” crowd, and then complain or give up.
Or, they decide rate based on their previous full-time job, without taking into account that it is a small possibility that they will work 6-8 hours daily, especially in the beginning, and that they need to spend time writing proposals. Also, on the top of UpWork fees, there are taxes and health insurance, and earning extra money in case some project fails or there is a period without a job.
6. Freelance writers often complain their bids got turned down. Is there anything you’re doing differently that’s making your bids to be accepted?
Well, I don’t know what other freelancers write in their proposals and what I do differently, I can only assume many of them use copy-paste proposals and applying on as many jobs as possible without reading the job description.
My approach is that I read the job description carefully (I prefer to apply on long ones), introduce myself with points relevant to them and explain how I can help them. If something in their Ad is unclear, I write that down in the proposal. And, I have prepared samples to attach. I choose samples relevant to their project, and if I don’t have it, I write it before sending a proposal.
Of course, I use templates also on some jobs, but I never got an answer on a proposal where I used the template.
Additionally, it helps if you find your niche and apply on jobs that have less than 10 bids on it.
7. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your short time as a freelance writer?
I learned to predict failures and accept that in every moment something can go upside-down. Also, it is OK to fail, no matter whose fault it was. Click To Tweet
8. Any deal with clients gone wrong? How did you handle/resolve the issue?
I had one unsatisfied client. I didn’t meet his expectations, and his complaints were in place, so I refunded him the money.
9. Of course, you’ve worked for several real and high-paying clients (and probably the randy ones, too). What characteristics differentiates one from the other and how can beginner freelance writers avoid the randy clients?
I actually didn’t work with randy ones yet. But I had interviews and invitations from many that seemed that way so I refused it.
My first red flag is unrealistic expectations, like looking for a native speaker to write 1000 words for 5$ on some tech topic. I don’t even bother to read those invitations, I just decline them.
If I start communication, I am asking many questions and if they ignore some of them several times, I don’t work with them. If they behave like that during the interview, they will be complicated to work with later on.
10. Are you a niche writer? What niche(s)? Do you think these niches are still profitable? How has this helped you in getting the jobs?
Yes. I am focusing on technical documentation (e.g. user guides), structuring content on the website for tech companies, writing tech articles. (Tech is booming these days, and naturally, there are many opportunities for writers).
My other niche is personal development article writing and I’m yet to start pushing it on UpWork, mostly because there are a whole lot more tech-related opportunities with fewer people bidding on the same jobs as I do.
11. Which does it for you: per word, per hour, or per project charge?
For content writing jobs and jobs that require some additional tasks besides writing, the best solution is to work hourly .
For article writing jobs, I don’t have a preference. I usually need to create some screenshots or step by step guides, though. Often times I do some WordPress administration, or interview subject matter experts, so writing per word is not a good fit for me.
12. What final words do you have for freelance writers, especially the beginners?
Don’t sell yourself as a beginner. Click To Tweet Write some samples, research how to do what you offer, learn how to market yourself and learn how to resolve client’s problems. In most cases, writing an article or piece of content is just a beginning. Click To Tweet
I will like to thank Katarina for her time. Have any concern the interview did not address? Forward it through the comment box.
Sam is a freelance content writer. He blogs at 1stclasswriters.com where he shares his knowledge and experience about the freelance writing business. When Sam is not writing, he could be on his social channels chatting up like minds.