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7 Signs You’re Really A Professional Writer

Professional Writers

Professional Writers

If you lined up a dozen professional freelance  writers you might think they didn’t have much in common. At least they certainly wouldn’t look alike. But if you got to know them or a bit about them you’d find they have some things in common.

Here are 7 things you need to really be a professional writer:

You get paid for at least some of the writing you do. Pay is certainly not the only sign of a professional writer, but it is the first one most people think of.  You’ve learned how to set your freelance writing fees.
You have some sense of the value of your writing. You’ve discovered, one way or another, that you can write better than many folks and you realize that’s worth something. You treat your writing like a business. Treating your writing like the business it is is more than an attitude, although you need that too. It usually includes at least:

A business checking account. You pay yourself from this account and your business expenses, including savings and taxes.


Business cards. Your business cards make it clear what kind of writing you do and you spread them widely.


A website that shows off your writing talent. These days I don’t think it’s possible to really be in the writing business without a website.

You refuse low paying gigs. You know better than to do writing work that doesn’t pay you what you’re worth. You insist on being paid adequately. This is the flip side of refusing low pay – you’ve learned to quietly, firmly and professionally insist you’re paid adequately.You insist on contracts or letters of agreement with your clients. You know that contracts of some sort, even an informal, but specific email, are necessary, and you make sure they get written.

If you’re just starting out, it may take you a little way to have all seven in place, but it shouldn’t take long.

How do you know you’re really a professional writers?


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{ 34 comments… add one }
  • I think frequency and quantity is important. You can be paid to write on an occasional basis, and you can even tell people that you are a writer, but I think a minimum of like, 1000 words a day is what makes people real writers.

    It’s not so much about the quantity, although I would say that even the quantity is roughly right. You can’t be a real writer until you sit down and actually write every single day.
    Zsolt recently posted..Mary J. Blige, O.A.R. perform at Virgin Unite’s 5th annual Rock the Kasbah fundraiserMy Profile

    • Anne

      Wonder how many words I actually write most days, probably close to a thousand… I do write almost every day.

  • Hi, all

    I am a Blogger/Affiliate Marketer and recently I discovered that my – Writer’s Lifestyle – Blog had an increase of +400%
    in the amount of unique visitors. My blog is about – Happy – Writing
    focussing mainly on Blogging/Affiliate Marketing and Enjoying Writing. Editing and Proofreading usually isn’t something
    that I really enjoy.

    (although sometimes I can keep on polishing untill
    infinity and also actually enjoy it :))

    When I worked at a big Record Company, I had a collegue that did editing for me while I also checked his writing. I do think that it’s alway’s good to have a
    – Fresh Look – from somebody else. Sometimes I just don’t see a spelling error when I made it myself, while with somebody elses writing I see it directly. (Possibly that might actually be the most professional solution to have somebody else do the editing or proofreading for you.)

    For what refusing Low Paying Gigs is concerned you might like to have a look at what Professional writer Ray Bradbury has to say about that, you can find the post on my Short Stories Page of my
    – Writer’s Lifestyle – Blog.

    It goes without saying that you are also welcome to
    check out the latest ‘Crispy Fresh’ New Posts
    or look at what others have written as Comments.

    All the Best,
    HP van Duuren recently posted..Your Blog As a – Platform – To Work FromMy Profile

  • As a matter of fact, you are a writer, when you know how to WRITE, not before that. Anyone can claim to be one, but it’s only in the paper that shows whether he is one or not. That’s how I see it. Pretty cynical, eh?
    Ron’s SEO Copywriting Blog recently posted..How to Write What People Actually Want to ReadMy Profile

  • Hey Anne,

    Your list shows that I’m a professional writer on these levels, although I believe professionalism also has its degrees and the more “pro” you get, the more you are known,and the more you are paid. But checking these, I realized I’ve indeed have come a long way since I first started.
    Pinar Tarhan recently posted..Why Finding the Perfect Freelance Writing Gig is like Finding The OneMy Profile

    • Anne

      Hard not to make progress at something you practice, and I know you’ve been practicing writing for awhile.

  • Ali

    Hi Anne

    I don’t know why AdSense codes becomes cranky at times, and says “The Page cannot be found” just like in this post.

    I hope I am not the only one getting this issue, becauses it has covered a huge part of the write-up 🙁
    Ali recently posted..3 Hottest Christmas Gifts for Writers and BloggersMy Profile

    • Anne

      Ali, it seems to be working today… is it ad codes that make a page disappear from time to time?

  • When browsing through the ‘net or reading your emails/newsletters, you might “catch” one or more mistakes on a colleague’s piece of writing or blog post. Then, if you’re a pro, you contact them privately to tell them about it and to give them the chance to correct themselves, without making a big deal out of it and jumping at the chance of making a fool out of them in public.

    Another idea: when you’re a pro, you know how to estimate your hourly fees, based on the tasks associated with each kind of writing. I’m working on it. 🙂

    • JoR

      Well, I heartily agree with you. But, if you were to write articles or blog posts, which had mistakes and post them in a writer’s website(which happens to be visited by professional writers), then, you should be well prepared for “constructive criticism”, however public it might be. As a professional writer, you should be able to take it with a pinch of salt. Imagine if clients or non-professional writers visited the online site and they noted the mistakes with not one professional writer commenting on it….hmmmm. What sort of impression would that leave about those writers who visited the particular website?

      Finally, it is important to write and edit (even if you do not have time and energy to proofread!) before you publish your articles or blog posts in a writer’s website or make it public. That is what a professional writer usually does! One or two ‘typo errors’ might be fine but not a number of them…

      BTW, how does e-mail become publicly accessible to all and sundry?


      • Hi Jo,

        I’m all the way with you at being prepared to take up constructive criticism. This is one thing, and it’s something a pro writer has to deal with.
        My point was dealing with the *reader’s* behavior. Generally speaking, the mistakes of others are not excuse enough for letting ourselves go and make more mistakes on top of them – that’s what I meant.

        P.S. I’m not a native speaker, and I don’t understand what “how does e-mail become publicly accessible to all and sundry?” means, esp. in relation to the comment — sorry, language barriers…

        • Anne

          Well, I didn’t get the email question either, Helenee and I am a native American English speaker.

      • Anne

        JoR, mostly I get it mostly right. I obviously totally blew it on that one. And I don’t understand your question re email.

    • Helenee, I agree completely. I’ve made mistakes. We all have. The fact is blogs are a more informal communication process. We don’t have copy editors hanging over our shoulders helping us correct it all. We do our best and appreciate the notice when we goof up. No need for a public lynching over a misplaced comma or any mistakes. We’re human, even if we are writers. 😉

      Kind of like the dog biting the hand that feeds it. I know Anne does this for free for the benefit of her readers. I for one am grateful to her for her selfless work.
      Lori recently posted..Link Love Friday and Musical StuffMy Profile

      • Worse, we don’t have the benefit of an “edit your post” button all the time.
        Lori recently posted..Link Love Friday and Musical StuffMy Profile

        • This is why we proofread at least two times, then let it sit, then proofread again. But, yeah, the “edit your post” button can be a blessing sometimes.

      • Anne

        thanks Lori.

    • Anne

      right on Helenee

  • Woo hoo! I’m a real writer! thanks for the confirmation.
    Rene recently posted..Workamp your way.My Profile

  • Kym

    How much did you get paid for this article? Too much. Unless you got paid per mistake.

  • jade

    While you’re correcting things, you might want to edit these sentences so that they make sense, too.

    “You know better than to writing work that doesn’t pay you what you’re worth.”

    “You know that contracts of some sort, even an informal, but specific email, are necessary, and you make sure they get done.”

  • MEg

    This is a joke, right?
    MEg recently posted..Secret SpotifyMy Profile

    • Anne

      oh yes, let’s call it a joke.

  • Joy

    Pros proofread their posts.

    • Anne

      Pros proofread posts and even proofreading pros, which I’m not, make mistakes.

  • dt

    I think knowing the difference between “your” and “you’re” may be among them.

    • I can’t help thinking she did that on purpose.

      • Lisa

        I doubt it.

        • JoR

          So do I…if you were to read some other posts, you would find the same mistake in them as well. I just did not want to comment anything until now. It is because I am grateful to Anne for all the previous job links, which were free of charge!..):….

          Sorry, Anne for my “brutal honesty”. I visit your website on and off..

          Honesty is the best policy!

    • Anne

      Which you’ll notice got fixed. What I’m curious about is why you assume because of my mistake I don’t know the difference?

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