Being or becoming a freelance writer isn’t for everyone.
Trying to earn a living, a good living as a freelance writer isn’t easy; it isn’t always fun.
You probably shouldn’t become a freelance writer unless:
You have some reason to believe your writing is better than average. When I’ve edited magazines I’ve always been surprised at the number of people who think they can write but can’t. Or maybe no one has shown them how to let go of their fear and write without stiffness and formalism.
If you want to be a successful freelance writer you’re going to have to write well. Not perfectly, whatever that might be, but well enough so others truly get what you’re writing about.
Such self-knowledge might come from getting good grades on school writing assignments, complements about your writing by others, (and your mother probably doesn’t count in this), positive results from some sort of advertising, (I wrote real estate classified ads for several years and we tracked the response; can’t tell you how much I learned from that) or something else.
You love the process of writing and of rewriting. Although it’s not enough to assure success as a freelancer, you should love the process of writing – the getting the words down on the page. Maybe you don’t have to love the rewriting but you have to be willing to do it and do it well.
You meet most of the qualifications of an entrepreneur like the article 25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs or Five Characteristics of America’s Most Successful Entrepreneur and a million other places
Okay, the characteristics are pretty typical. You’ve got to be a risk taker is probably the most important personality trait for successful freelance writers. That doesn’t mean extreme risk taking, but you’ve got to be willing to learn to put up with uncertain income, deal with clients who can be flaky as heck, and hang in there.
Come to think of it, hanging in there, which is really persistence, is right up there with risk taking.
You’re unwilling to spend serious time marketing your freelance writing skills. The only way a client can hire you to write is if they know you’re a writer and they can find you. That takes marketing.
Fortunately marketing can be done in a whole lot of different ways, but it must be done. If you’re just starting out plan on spending at least 50percent of your working time on marketing. After you get started that time will automatically reduce, but it probably should never go much below 25-30 percent of your time.
Obviously I think being a freelance writer is pretty nifty, but I never want anyone to go into the trade thinking it’s easy. It isn’t.