I made them at the start of my career, and here’s how you can avoid them.
I’ve been writing for ten years and coaching writers for three of them.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my writing career. Some of them set me back by years, and cost me opportunities worth thousands of dollars.
Today, I want to share some tips that will help you inch closer to your dream of being a better writer. Here are ten things I wish I had said to the 20-year-old writer in me to avoid them.
Read on, and don’t forget to let me know your thoughts in the comments.
1. Writing without intent
I published for years on Quora, but without a long-term plan.
Several of my answers got viral. They gave me insane amounts of validation but did nothing for me in terms of advancing my career or paying the bills.
People who started writing with me have now built million-dollar writing businesses, while I let the traction fade away as Quora evolved as a platform and my audience changed.
This is the biggest mistake I made: I published content without a vision or strategy.
You walk without knowing where the path leads if your pieces don’t add to a bigger picture. Without vision, you can’t succeed.
2. Chasing virality
I’ve been guilty of jumping blindly on trends in the hopes that promised traction but didn’t resonate with my brand. I believed the views and followers spurt from this would help me grow.
I was wrong.
To all the writers reading this, only write about what you’re interested in. Don’t follow virality.
Your audience is intelligent. They can tell if you poured your heart into your words or are just writing for the sake of it.
Chasing viral content you’re not interested in will only push back your followers.
3. Changing niches frequently
If you check my initial Quora answers, you’d notice I started by writing fiction, then switched to posts about life as a woman in technology. Later, I pivoted to feminism, and self-improvement, and even dabbled a bit in national politics.
Looking back, I realize how jarring it must have been to my audience to see me changing niches so frequently.
If you’re a writer, remember that growth comes when you build expertise in one topic.
If you change niches every month or year, you’ll start from square one.
Stick to one niche. Don’t get distracted by trending topics. BIG wins come to those who play long-term games.
4. Not building a work portfolio
Thankfully, I haven’t committed this mistake as I’ve always focussed on nurturing my personal brand.
But I see many creators only working for clients and ignoring publishing anything under their name.
When you ghostwrite, it pays well, but does it build your portfolio? No!
Moral of the story? Don’t just write for clients. Put your work on the internet.
It helps you attract potential leads for your business on autopilot.
5. Saying YES to every project
You might be attracted by money.
But if the:
- client is not long-term, or
- their testimonial doesn’t carry weight (as in, having a review by them won’t add much to your resume),
Let the gig go.
Use the time to work on your personal brand instead.
6. Not checking stats
If you don’t have a long-term vision. you can play around with your stats to get an idea of what direction your words could take you. Check your stats to:
- find what your audience wants,
- see what’s working and double down on it, and
- craft it as your niche.
This way, you don’t have to *find* your niche. Your build it.
7. Blindly copying popular writers’ style
In my early writing career, I idolized some writers and wanted to be like them. I stalked their profiles, checked what niches they wrote in, and even tried to mimic their writing style.
Of course, it didn’t give me the overnight stardom I had hoped.
Now, I know what worked for other writers might not work for you.
So don’t copy someone else.
You’re unique. Build your own style. No one can compete with you on being “you.”
8. Comparing your day ONE with others’ day 1000
Jealousy gets you nowhere.
In the writing field, beginnings are always the hardest. You won’t get likes, views, or money.
Some days, you’ll feel like it’s all worthless, and your hard work will never be rewarded.
This is only your insecurities talking, and far from reality.
Get through the bad days. Only then you’ll deserve the good days when they come.
9. Not building social proof
Post online to build credibility. Your likes, views, or follower count might seem like a vanity metric to many. But to potential clients or customers, these prove that what you write brings results.
In truth, establishing thought leadership on social platforms can be a powerful weapon in your arsenal.
When you gather followers, people look up to you as an authority.
This social proof makes you more trustworthy and approachable to your next clients.
10. Not sticking through the bad days
I’ve seen good writers quit because they didn’t see a viral article for 5–6 months.
But from a bigger picture, five months is like a blip on the radar. Good things take time. Building a writing career will take you longer than six months, for sure.
If you don’t have enough belief to sustain through the bad days, you can’t succeed. Keep pushing on, and you’ll surely be rewarded.
Summing up, here are the ten biggest writing mistakes I made at the start of my career that I see new writers making all the time-
- Writing without intent
- Chasing virality
- Changing niches frequently
- Not building a work portfolio
- Saying YES to every project
- Not checking stats
- Blindly copying popular writers’ style
- Comparing your success with others
- Not building social proof
- Not sticking through the bad days
Are you guilty of making any of these? Let me know in the comments,