If you think about the people you know (or know online) that are successful freelance writers, what do you think they have in common? This question can be a bit challenging because freelancers come from a number of different backgrounds. They can be any age, and while some have studied writing in university, others hold degrees in other subject areas. Some successful freelance writers didn’t go to university at all.
For some people, writing is something that they have done from the time they were old enough to put pen(cil) to paper. For others, and I’m in this category, the road to a freelance writing career was long, winding, and broken in a few places along the way. (I now realize that every choice I made and all the jobs I’ve had in the past have helped me to get to this moment – and it’s all good.)
I’ve given this matter some thought, and I the most important trait that a freelance writer can have is dependability. Yes, it helps to be familiar with the style of writing the client wants, but a person who is reasonably intelligent and a bit adventurous can figure it out if the client can provide an example of what he or she wants.
Having a good base of knowledge in a particular subject area is also good to have. If necessary, we can conduct research to obtain the level of understanding needed for the projects we take on. A lot of projects require a certain amount of research anyway, since we need to tackle the project from a certain angle to meet the client’s needs.
You can have degrees up the yin yang and be a complete Brainiac in the subject area involved, but if the client knows or doesn’t believe that you are going to show up when needed and stick with the project until it’s done, they are going to hire someone else.
When you are talking to a potential client, tell them about your work ethic and that you pride yourself on working diligently until your clients are satisfied. That doesn’t mean that you let clients go through multiple revisions without charging more for your time (which is a whole different discussion) or keep going on a project if the client thinks they are a magician (they just disappear one day).
It’s about telling the client that you are both on the same side and that you are committed to doing your best work every time you get hired, because that’s the way you roll.
What trait do you think is most important in a successful freelance writer?