The Single Biggest Mistake Freelancers Make

In a field like freelance writing- or any form of self employment, really- it’s easy to make mistakes. You’re likely going it alone, doing your best to figure out everything from getting clients to invoicing to finding your niche.

There’s just no clear-cut, run-of-the-mill way to make a living as a writer. So, you hustle. You bust your ass. You do what you gotta do to make the money come in so your brand grows.

But, friends, that’s when it becomes really easy to make one of the biggest mistakes self-employed folks make:

Not networking and/or growing your posse!

I’m as guilty as the next girl with a desire to make money writing. But it’s only been recently that it dawned on me to get my ass networking. And as I’ve started to make connections, talk to like-minded people, and branch out, I’ve discovered that not doing this is totally detrimental to business.

Earlier this month I was feeling stuck. My writing gigs weren’t bringing in enough money and I was starting to feel like I’d hit a wall.

So I sent out a bunch of emails to local web designers and started chatting with two local female writers via email. Only one web designer out of the bunch got back to me, but after a meeting with him, I’ve got a load of potential copywriting work and the invitation to attend a local BNI meeting.

I was completely humbled by how generous, helpful, and smart he was when we met. This connection will probably lead to a number of really exciting copywriting jobs that will not only make my bank account happy, but will make me happy, too.

Then there’s the personal connections I’m making. Today I had a coffee lunch date with a local writer named Mary Mack. Aside from having about 1000 things in common, we chatted like we’d known each other for longer than a few email exchanges.

At the very least, it’s a new friend who is in my field, has the same goals as me, and is super fun to shoot the shit with.

But beyond that, she’s a talented writer who I could someday team up with on bigger, more kick-ass projects. We’re both bursting with big ideas and a lot of smarts- imagine if we teamed up?

And if she hadn’t initially emailed me, we never would have met. What a sad thought!

Here’s the deal:

Networking and building your posse will only make your business stronger. But you have to get out there and talk to people. I get nervous like anyone else when it comes to meeting new people and talking about myself, but if you’re going to make it as a freelancer, you need connections.

You need people to think of your name when a project comes up. You need people to refer you to their connections when they need a writer. But no one will know who the heck you are if you never meet them.

How to get started with networking and posse-building if the idea leaves you nearly peeing your pants (don’t worry. Happens to the best of us):

  1. Make friends with cool people in your field on Twitter. I love Twitter solely for the fact that I’ve met some incredible writers through it.
  2. Find local people in your field and reach out to them by email. Start a conversation about your similarities and go out for a drink together. Deepen the connection so you’re a real person, not just an email.
  3. Say thank you! If someone refers you a new client or drops your name in a conversation that eventually leads to a great connection, make sure you give credit where it’s due.
  4. Start a group. It doesn’t have to be a writing group, but once you’ve got a few people with similar interests floating around your circle of friends, pull them together. Call it a power posse and use the time together to brainstorm business ideas, encourage each other, and build important relationships.

Next week I have another coffee date with another local female writer, and I’m psyched. I’ll also be a guest at that local BNI meeting where I’ll hopefully meet a few great connections.

Networking doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, if you approach it the right way, it can be the best thing you do for your business.

How do you handle networking? Does it scare the bejesus out of you, or do you embrace the opportunity to meet new people?

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