People who think they might want to earn their living freelance writing often have a distorted vision of what that career path actually looks like. Here’s some unvarnished truth about freelance writing:
- Freelance writing is hard work. Of course, writing isn’t hard like digging ditches, although to write well can be exhausting emotionally. The hard part of writing is learning to write regularly and to do the rest of the things that will make you successful.
- Freelance writing requires self-discipline. You simply have to find a way to regularly do the things you need to do to make your writing business a success – that’s self-discipline.
- You’ve got to get the writing done. You can’t be a successful writer if you don’t sit down and get those words on paper. And once you’ve written you’ve got to rewrite and edit. There’s just no way around it, really.
- Your writing business is a business. Yes, freelance writing is more business than glamor. You’ve got to learn a minimum of business skills, like simple bookkeeping, marketing, making deadlines, dealing with taxes, etc. That doesn’t mean you have to throw your creativity out, just that you need to honor the business side as well.
- You’ve got to market your writing. The word, marketing, seems to cause automatic resistance in writers. I’m not sure why. There are all sorts of marketing methods to choose from, from business cards to cold calling to queries, to websites, with a whole bunch in between. You don’t have to do them all, but you do have to find the marketing you will do consistently and that will bring you the clients you want.
- Marketing requires patience. Many fail to realize it takes time to see the results from marketing. It’s rare to hand someone a business card and have them hire you right then. It probably takes 50 cold calls to get one solid lead, and that may not result in work right away if then. Even the most seasoned writers don’t expect every query to result in an assignment, and it can take six weeks to a month to even find out. Websites need to be promoted so people can find them when they are looking for a writer with your skill set. It all takes time. Consistency is the key to marketing.
- Writing income varies from month-t0-month, year-to-year. The income from freelance writing is anything but consistent; it’s not at all like the regular income you get from a job. One year you may earn way more than you expected, the next year, quite a bit less. Successful freelance writers learn to deal with uncertain income.
- Keeping track of the money is an absolute must. You simply must track your income and expense to have a real idea of what’s going on with your writing business.
- Saving is a must for the freelancer. Savings helps smooth freelance income and adds power to your negotiations.
Freelance writing is a wonderful career which, once you get going, offers many perks, including the ability to mostly control your time. But it isn’t for everyone. If you’re not able to do these nine things consistently, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed.
What have I left out of this list?
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