Seven keys to being a successful freelance writer

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

I’ve had a few one on one conversations with younger people looking to get into freelancing. Some of them are not happy with their current full-time job, but they’re afraid of giving up the “guaranteed” income of a job. We all know that nothing is guaranteed, but I get it. I came from a world where you were told that the goal should be to get into a good company and stay there until you retire. However, I fell into freelancing and have been doing it – almost consistently for more than 20 years.

I came across some great advice on what freelance writers (and others) need to succeed in this world, where there is no safety net or guarantee of work or income. 

  1. You must love your craft. If you want to be a freelance writer, then you must love everything about writing. It cannot be just a job that makes you money, as your income depends on the amount of effort you put into it… and loving the writing helps to put the effort you need.
  2. You need to have a service-based attitude. You want to do the best work for our clients and produce great material for your audience. You think of giving the reader what they want. (You can write for yourself, and should. But if you’re in business, you have to think about the client’s needs.)
  3. You must have confidence in your abilities. The “impostor” syndrome is common in freelancers – you never think you’re good enough or have the skills to do the job. That’s why you must believe in your skills, have pride in your results… and be humble and thankful for your clients wanting to work with you.
  4. Get training. You might have great natural ability, but it needs to be honed. And you need to learn what you don’t know to complement what you do know. Training will help you to understand the strategies and techniques needed to get a response from your writing. You can learn from others or learn on your own, whatever works best for you. 
  5. You must develop discipline to get the work done – right and on time. Being answerable to yourself is difficult for some as distractions are everywhere. It’s easy to let things slide when deadlines are far off and no one is there to crack the whip. But letting things slide regularly will doom you in the long run.
  6. Marketing is essential. You might be one of the “lucky” few who have clients banging down the door. But most freelancers must market their services regularly and search for clients. Marketing is more than necessary – it is part of your job, as are sales, customer service, accounting, billing, and so on. 
  7. You need support from other people – for encouragement, for financial support, to help get leads and clients, for companionship, for someone to provide advice, and so on. Freelancing can be a solo business, but you are never alone. Find a community of people who do what you do so that you can get support when needed. And hire professionals to help when you cannot do something yourself.

I could add more strategies on being a successful freelancer, but these will do the job. Follow them, and create a path that works for you, and you’ll get there.

If you need advice on freelancing, let me know – 


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