THE BLOG
11/08/2013 11:56 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

New Writer? Don't Make These 3 Rookie Mistakes

In my many years of mentoring new freelance writers and teaching community ed classes at the local college, I've seen it all when it comes to newbie mistakes. In addition, I've made more than a few myself. The good news is that many of these are recoverable offenses. However, why not learn from my example and avoid them altogether instead? Following are some rookie mistakes that all writers should avoid.

1. Not Backing Up Your Files
Ah, the heartache. I've so been there. You trust your laptop, huh? It's new enough, right? Wrong. I've had many a laptop go haywire in my career, but it only took the first time for me to learn my lesson. I'll never lose my masterpiece again! All writers (and anyone, really) should back up their files daily. You can automate a back up of your files so that it happens while you sleep! Choose a reliable cloud storage option, and "set it and forget it." Services automatically connect to your computer at the indicated time and store your files in the cloud. You can even set up automatic payment so that you seriously never have to think about file back up again.

2. Not Treating Your Writing As a Business
Whether you're a freelance writer, an author a journalist or some other kind of word wrangler, your end goal is likely to make money, right? Well, guess what? The moment you make that dough, Uncle Sam's going to want his fair share. So, unless you're (conveniently) employed in a traditional setting, you're going to have to keep excellent records of your cash in and cash out when related to your writing. Record any expenses that you incur in the pursuit of your writing endeavors and keep the receipts. In addition, carefully keep records of any payments you receive, whether that be from Amazon e-book sales, freelance clients or traditional royalties. Being meticulous about this will help your tax accountant to help you.

3. Copyright Violation
This may seem like an obvious faux pas to some, but in my time writing for the web, I've seen many an aspiring blogger "scrape" my content -- that is, repost, verbatim, my composed text, in full. Such practices not only affect the original blogger through loss of traffic, but they also are considered highly unethical in the field. So, if you're trying to build a name for yourself as a writer, let's start by not peeving off our other writer friends, ok?

One constant my Internet readers will hear from me is how engaging and fulfilling it is to be a freelance writer. But, that doesn't mean there are no bumps on the road to the paid writing life. What were some of your rookie mistakes, and how did you handle them?