Lots of people want to make freelance writing a career, but few are actually able to make it happen. This is because it takes a special kind of person with the right drive and motivation. Simply knowing how to write is not enough — you must be willing to market yourself. If you’re interested in pursuing freelance writing as a career, let us help you determine whether it is a good choice for you or not.
Your Writing and Editing Skills Need to Be Top Notch
Firstly, you need to know how to write and be good at it. I worked several years as an editor for a content mill, and I often came across writers who shouldn’t really be writers. What I mean is that their writing and editing skills were not anywhere near a professional level. To truly be successful as a freelance writer, you need impeccable skills. This takes both practice and education. You don’t have to have a degree in English, but you do have to be a good writer. So, don’t jump into the freelance writing life before you are confident that you can write coherent sentences that flow from one paragraph to the next.
Editors shouldn’t have to spend hours rewriting sentences and adding flow to your content pieces. That’s a major problem with content mills — they will let anyone be a writer. This gives many people false hope that they can make freelance writing a career. I started to notice that the better writers didn’t stay with the content mills long. This is because good writers move on to higher paying gigs. If you can break free from content mills, you can make freelance writing a career instead of a hobby. Now, I don’t want to entirely bash content mills. They are a good place for new writers to test the waters in terms of their skills and interest in freelance writing.
You Can’t Be Afraid to Market Yourself to Clients
Once you have the writing and editing skills down, you need to put yourself out there. You can’t be afraid to market your writing abilities to potential clients. For the most part, clients won’t just fall into your lap. Many people who hope to become freelance writers have unrealistic expectations about the work load. They think they will spend most of their time writing, when in fact a good portion of their time will actually have to go towards marketing their skills and expertise.
In the beginning of your freelance writing career, you’ll probably spend more than half of your time marketing yourself. This includes things such as sending query letters, sharing your portfolio, and networking with professionals in your industry. Once you’ve established a client base, you won’t have to spend as much time on marketing. However, you’ll always have to dedicate time to maintaining client relationships so that the work continues to pour in. Writing isn’t simply about expressing your opinions; you have to make your clients happy.
A lot of people lack the courage to market their writing skills. This could be for any number of reasons, such as being afraid of rejection or making excuses for a small portfolio. To be successful as a freelance writer, you must be willing to take chances and out your writing skills in front of potential clients.
You Need to Have Self Motivation
Once you start getting a chunk of work, you need to find the self motivation to get it done in a timely manner. I’m not talking about overcoming procrastination; I’m talking about finding the balance between pay and effort. For instance, if you’re being paid $100 to write an article for an online publication, but you spend 10 hours or more writing, you wouldn’t have a very good hourly rate. Freelance writers have to be good at monitoring their time. Of course, you don’t want the quality of your work to suffer, either. This means you should never take a freelance writing gig that does not pay you what you’re worth because you will lose the motivation to get it done.
I’ve never met a freelance writer that didn’t have a problem with procrastination to some extent. As an editor, I rarely saw articles come in more than a day before their deadline, even if they were assigned two to three weeks in advance. Personally, I find deadlines a great source of self motivation. I can see the amount of time I have to complete the assignment and this keeps me motivated and on task. When I’m working on something that isn’t due for a while, I have more of a tendency to check emails, visit Facebook, and do other things online that waste time that I could have spent writing.
People who procrastinate can still be good writers. If you are a habitual procrastination, just make sure that you leave enough time to finish your projects before the deadline. You won’t make it in the freelance writing world very long if you miss deadlines. You can probably get away with it a few times, but clients will notice and you’ll lose work. Self motivation is about being able to overcome procrastination when it is needed.
Are you self motivated, willing to market yourself, and confident in your writing and editing skills? These are the three most important traits to being successful as a freelance writer. What other traits do you think would be helpful to a freelance writer? Leave a comment below.