There were countless mistakes I made when I was in the first few years of my writing career.
Above all, the worst one I ever made, and continue to make from time to time, is simply undervaluing what I do as a writer.
The biggest slap in the face for me was when I took a contract where I was writing about 10 blogs at 500 words a blog for $20 a week. Side note: DON'T DO THIS. I thought it would be easy, just sit down and pop out a quick few blogs a day.
First of all, 5,000 words is a fucking lot of words.
Secondly, now looking back I can see that he undervalued writers a lot which can never be good as a freelancer.
Third, he would send me back the copies all the time with edits he wanted. When you're getting a deal that is a steal, don't be a dick like this.
I could only keep up this schedule for about two weeks. He upped the amount of work for the same price and expected that to be cool. I, still being in my teens, pulled the "oh, there was a death in the family. SEE YA" deal and bailed out. Not professional of me, I know. But after one day of 8 hours worth of work and edits, and realizing I was only going to get $20 at the end of the week just didn't add up for me.
So, from this lesson and my mistake, I would like to pass on some gems of wisdom I had to suffer through so you can do better for yourself:
Listen to me, you DO NOT HAVE TO EAT SHIT JUST TO BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO.
I have heard this one a lot, that my starting standards were "too high" and no one was going to pay me a wage I could live off of because I was brand new. But, let me tell you, there are people out there who value what writers do. Find these people, and impress the ever loving shit out of them. Go above and beyond because the respect is there.
There is a difference in clients between the ones who just want things to sound a certain way, which all business owners/magazines/newspapers are entitled to, and I love those people, and then there are the ones who want to just belittle your work because they think they know more about writing than you do. Fuck these people. Let them try to write it themselves. No job is worth being insulted.
These lessons apply to every area of your life. If someone undervalues your help as a friend and chooses to walk all over you, find new friends. If your significant other doesn't find value in your opinions and the things you do for them, leave them. If someone undervalues whatever it is you bring to the table in any situation, fuck 'em.
Life is too short to eat shit for breakfast and then have to come back like little Annie asking for a second cup.
What you do and what you believe is valuable. Stop letting people tell you any different.