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3 Keys To Freelance Writing Success

start writingWho knew? I got this question via FaceBook – surprised I even found it.

Hi Anne,
I have been following your blogs when possible and receiving your newsletter, and thoroughly enjoy them.

I am at the beginning stages of my writing career, and am looking for advice from those who are achieving their goals. If you have time, I have a few questions.

  • How did you achieve this goal?
  • How long did it take, and what was the result?
  • What were the key difficulties you faced in achieving this goal, and how did you overcome them?
  • What key tips do you have for me?

Thank you for your time.
BL – via facebookHi BL

This is sort of what I call a how long is a piece of string question. I’m guessing you’re asking about learning how to make a decent living writing. While I now work with goals I certainly didn’t back when, according to the family story, I started talking about wanting to be a writer in the 6th grade.

No, I don’t mean that I’ve been consciously working at being a freelance writer that long – I started to get serious about it in my early 30s, when I started actually writing and submitting articles to magazines, getting, at first rejected, and continuing to write until I got some acceptances. 

I also worked inside, first as a technical writer, then as a magazine writer and finally as an editor to a couple of magazines and a couple of small newspapers.

In other words, my life as a writer has been anything but a straight line. I’ve had successes, failures and everything in between. What has stayed constant has been my determination to earn my living writing.

I’ve achieved my success really with the three keys I always talk about:

  • Writing
  • Rewriting
  • Marketing

(You can get a free ebook about this by subscribing to the free newsletter here.)

I might expand this a bit, but not much by suggesting your first pick one or two ideas you want to write in or about. Then search out potential markets – two or three of them is all you need.

Then you write. You do the best to get published by the markets you’ve chosen.

That means writing and rewriting.

And once you’ve got the piece reasonably polished you send it off – you market it.

I know this sounds simplistic, but truly it’s the only way I know. Write, rewrite, market over and over again.

Even when my goals change and evolve, it always boils down to this.

Some way, some how you’ve got to get started writing, then rewriting and finally marketing.

It really is that simple – not easy, but simple.

What are your secrets to successful freelance writing?


{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Jackie J.

    Hey Anne, I have a question. I have seen a lot written about getting started as a writer and a lot of the advice leans toward going to local businesses or writing for local papers. But…. What advice can you give to some like me that lives out in, “OMG where did the road go?” I live in a high mountain area. The nearest town is 10 miles in either direction and the local papers are once a week gigs that would barely line the birdcage. Any advice on where to start out here in the boonies.

    • Jackie, this is actually a great idea for a guest post, particularly since I’ve lived that far out… the short form is the weekly can give you good credits and maybe coffee money. Ten miles isn’t really that far – and in both towns there are probably at least a Copley of businesses that could use your services at least once in awhile. But the real deal is doing the work virtually – via the ‘net. Telecommuting writing gigs, and you can solicit writing work long distance too… I’ve added this to the list of upcoming blog posts – thanks.

  • Kim

    Anne, Some great tips. I agree with Charlotte, Being flexible (at certain extent of-course) is the best way to keep orders coming and make clients happy. Obviously it may cost a bit but you may gain trust and benefits of mouth to mouth marketing in return.
    Kim recently posted..GenFX ReviewMy Profile

    • Anne

      Flexibility is also important, I agree.

  • Try your hand at everything that strikes your fancy! And never let anyone tell you, you can’t! Only you will know where your writing will ultimately lead.

    Clara recently posted..Practicing The Art Of WholenessMy Profile

    • Anne

      Amen to that Clara, thanks.

  • Oh, rejection… 🙂 I received my first rejection letter when I was only 13, after trying to sell a little novel I had written on the basis of cartoons I watched. I knew nothing of copyright at that age, and that I couldn’t send a ‘fanfiction’ piece to an important publisher like Mondadori (here in Italy), but that rejection letter felt like something very precious in my young hands… They had read my manuscript! That was my little joy. The rest, I thought, may come in when I grow older.

    Well, now I’m 26 and I enjoy freelancing when I’m not studying – I write articles, short stories, novels, I draw art commissions and seldom web design too. A full life.

    I still feel joyful when I get a rejection, especially when it comes along with the reasons that led to it. It’s like a little school, there’s always something new to learn.

    I guess we should just let passion take us by hand and lead us to its magical worlds: the various markets, blogs, magazines, companies. Always trying our best, no matter the falls, that I continue seeing as chances to grow up as a person and a writer.

    ~ Luana S.
    Luana Spinetti recently posted..‘Love Can Be Heavy’ at TheSexCipher.comMy Profile

    • Anne

      Luana, what wisdom then and now. To feel joy at a rejection just sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Your persistence is definitely key, Anne. Plowing through early rejections until you get a hook, then using that hook repeatedly. Love all the other comments above too.
    Nicky Parry recently posted..Check Your SkinMy Profile

  • My best tip is to stay flexible. Some months I make most of my living through coaching writers, and others I make it from ghostwriting. And no matter what I do, it just seems to flow. So I’ve decided its easy to flow with it.
    Charlotte Rains Dixon recently posted..Writing in the Rain: Monday Morning Round-upMy Profile

    • Anne

      Charlotte – you’re right, flexibility is important too… going with the flow works for me too.

  • Staying persistent. Appreciate the rejections knowing that a success is coming soon. And guest blogging helps, too.
    Marcie recently posted..I’m Still Heart Broken About Troy DavisMy Profile

  • Secrets to successful freelance writing? All of the above, and reading invaluable sites like yours. – CJ

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