I had a great conversation recently with someone I was interviewing, and we got on the subject of talent when it comes to freelance writers. We were discussing how much “talent” matters in the equation of what makes someone a successful freelancer. I’ve been giving the matter some thought, and here’s my take on it:
Talent is Only a Small Part of Freelance Success
Yes, having a certain amount of raw talent is required. You need to be able to write well. Good grammar is a skill that you can improve with time. Spelling is something that a lot of people need help with, at least some of the time (me included). I use Spellcheck on my WP program, and I check my dictionary and thesaurus regularly.
There are a lot of talented people around, but talent alone is no guarantee of freelance success. You need to take whatever level of talent you have and combine it with other skills if you are going to do well in this business.
- Develop your Listening Skills
Get in the habit of really listening to your clients. Let them tell you what they need, and fulfill that need. You will quickly get a reputation as being someone who is easy to deal with and who cares about their clients. This strategy will lead to repeat business.
- Follow Instructions Carefully
You might have seen dozens, or hundreds of similar assignments in the past. That doesn’t mean that you can just dive into the one right in front of you without reading the instructions carefully first. If your client wants a particular font used or has asked that you double space between paragraphs, then it’s for a reason. Give them what they want.
- Treat your Clients Well
My clients are not interruptions from whatever else I’m doing during my day. They are the reason I have a business, and I treat them accordingly. I make a point of making them feel welcome when they get in touch with me, whether it’s about their writing needs or just to say hello.
Talent is a good thing when it comes to freelance writing, to be sure, but it’s not enough. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you are difficult to work with, your clients will move on to someone who they find easier to deal with. That’s just the way it is.
How important do you think raw talent is to freelance writing success?