Terrible Freelance Writing Advice

by Angie Papple Johnston for Freelance Writing Tips

You're telling them they should do WHAT???

I read a lot of other blogs and websites - some I subscribe to because they're awesome and some I come upon because I've got Google Alerts set for terms I frequently use... or I'm checking around to see who's stealing my content (somebody always is).

In the time I spend reading other people's freelance writing advice, I generally have some (or all) of these feelings:
  • stomach ache
  • headache
  • shock and awe
  • agreement
Sometimes I just don't get why an established freelance writer would tell an aspiring freelance writer to do certain things.  I'm not saying my way is the only way, or that you should even listen to me at all - but here's what I found just today that made me shudder, cringe and shake my head in amazement.

Freelance Writing Advice that Gave Me a Stomach Ache

Someone said something like, "Writing for content sites can be very lucrative, and you can't call yourself a freelance writer if you aren't writing for Helium and Associated Content."

Excuse me?!

Lucrative = something that makes you lots of money.  I don't consider digging under my couch cushions lucrative, and you'll generally make more money doing that than writing for content mills.

I am not saying there's anything wrong with writing for content mills (as long as you use a pen name).  There isn't.  If that's what fills your inkwell, go for it.

I, on the other hand, like my inkwell to be filled with expensive ink... and I like it to be sitting on top of a stack of money.  I most certainly am a freelance writer, and I don't write for either of those sites.  So in my opinion, that's terrible freelance writing advice.

Freelance Writing Advice that Gave Me a Headache

I saw someone encouraging people to bid on jobs through eLance and ODesk. 

Why do I consider that terrible freelance writing advice?  3 reasons:
  1. You're bidding against people who will work for pennies.
  2. You're working with a middleman who takes a percentage of the fee if you get the job.
  3. The time you spend looking for and bidding on jobs could would be better spent marketing your freelance writing services.
Freelance Writing Advice that Sent Me into a State of Shock and Awe

I read something to the effect of: "Spinning articles is ethical and necessary.  You can not write dozens of articles on the same topic."

Au contraire on two counts.
  1. You can, too, write lots of articles on the same topic... if you're a good writer.
  2. Spinning articles is unethical + stupid.  Unethical + stupid = no real, legitimate traffic for your client and no real, legitimate writing on your part.
If you spin articles, you are not a freelance writer.  You are a freelance article spinner.  That's all there is to it.

Freelance Writing Advice I Agree With

There's lots of great advice out there - you just have to sift through and find what works for you.  You don't have to agree with me; in fact, you don't have to agree with anybody.  This is your freelance writing career, and you don't have to take advice from anyone if you don't want to.

What's the worst piece of freelance writing advice you've ever heard?  What's the best freelance writing advice you've given (or been given)?


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© Angie Papple Johnston 2010.  Don't steal from me or I'll come getcha.  Really... I've got that kind of time.
Image courtesy of BlueGum at RGBStock.com.