The A,B,Cs of Freelance Writing

alphabet blocks

Looking to get started as a freelance writer? As noted before, not everyone can do it. Here’s a checklist of the items and attributes needed to be a successful freelance writer. How many do you have?


Successful freelance writers have the right attitude. They’re positive and agreeable. They know they’re up to any task and welcome a challenge. They’re open to suggestion but aren’t afraid to offer their opinion.

Negativity attracts negativity. Positivity attracts success.


Blogs are a terrific way to market your services, show off your writing skills and share ideas with other freelancers. Even if you don’t want to maintain your own blogs, there are plenty of freelance writing blogs around for you to be a part of. Find the blogs you like best and become an active part of their community or do a guest post. Whether you have your own blog or become a part of someone else’s network, blogging helps writers gain visibility.


It’s essential for freelance writers to have good communications skills. Use the phone, face to face meetings, Skype, and email to meet with clients so there’s no mistaking what they want. Successful freelancers keep in close touch with their clients, ask questions, offer regular updates and follow up after each project.


You need drive and determination to make it as a freelancer. No one is going to hand you work, you have to get out there and find it. After you find work, you have to get it done. No one will stand over you and no one is going to do your work for you. Are you determined to see it through to done?


Successful freelance writers don’t sign their names to any finished piece of work unless it’s done to the very best of their ability. Clients hire us to do our best, and that’s what we must give them.


Flexibility for freelancers take on more than one meaning. On the one hand, we’re flexible with our time. We can work any time we want. and  anywhere our laptop takes us.  We also have to be flexible with our clients. We have to approach projects with an open mind and be willing to meet at their convenience.


What are your goals? Where would you like your freelance writing business to be 1 year from now? 5 years? 10 years? Set goals. Make them obtainable, but more challenging as time goes on. Know where you want to be, make a plan and stick to it.


A sense of humor is essential, especially on those days when nothing is working out right. Learning to laugh at our setbacks rather than wallow in them leads to a more positive experience.


Freelancers have to use their intuition. If an opportunity doesn’t sit right with you, pass. If you’re researching and have a feeling there’s more to a particular story, delve further. If you feel a piece isn’t quite right, give it a tweak. Use your intuition, you’re probably correct.

Job Boards

Good clients are often found through job boards, even Craigslist. Check out the boards regularly, even if you’re not looking for work. It will give you a good idea of what is out there, what they’re paying, who is hiring, what types of scams are prevalent and other trends in the industry.


There’s no excuse for ignorance. Before you begin writing take the time to learn everything you can about this business to determine whether or not it’s for you. Research rates, the types of opportunities and how to land those opportunities. Learn how to query or create a sale pitch and to present yourself in the best light possible.


Love what you do. The freelancers who are only going through the motions are the ones who don’t last.


How do you market yourself as a freelance writer? What do you do to teach others about you and your business? Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of opportunities for writers to market themselves using blogs, ebooks and more. However, there are also offline marketing opportunities at conferences, networking events and seminars. Print up business cards and brochures or launch a website. The possibilities abound.


Everyone has the potential to become a client. Networking both online and offline is important for all freelancers. Meet people, you never know when they’ll want to hire you.


Freelancing is all about choices. Make the choices that work best for you and your situation. Find the writing YOU want to do and make it work.


Make no mistake, passion is important. If you love what you do, your passion will show through. If you love what you write, your readers will feel it. Writing every day without passion will only lead to burnout.


A successful query can land some tasty gigs. Learn how to write a query that sells, but make it flexible enough to tweak for various projects. Don’t create a cookie cutter, one size fits all, pitch. Show your client you see his project as one that is unique and individual instead of the usual writing gig.


If you receive rejection, don’t despair. Consider yourself part of a special club. Every single writer receives rejection at one time or another. Let it roll off your back and get back to work.


Freelancers are salespeople, whether we want to be our not. We have to sell ourselves and our writing to our clients. However, there’s a difference between talking yourself up and being smarmy or pushy.


Your clients and your readers want to trust you. They come to your blogs, or buy what you’re selling because you’ve proven to them you’re someone they can believe in. Don’t blow it.


Writers must have the ability to see all sides of a story. They have to understand their clients wants and needs, and remember good storytelling and article writing requires the ability to truly get the subject matter.


Freelance writers provide their clients with something of value, there has to be an end result.  Perhaps it’s to sell magazines, or a product. Maybe it’s to bring in traffic or advertisers. Knowing exactly what your clients hope to achieve with your writing will help you to give them something of value.


By themselves words are meaningless, together with other carefully chosen words, they can change the world. Make no mistake of their importance. Take care with your words.


I got nothing…


Successful freelance writers know that saying “yes” will open many doors. We don’t get anywhere thinking about what we can’t do. It’s when we say yes, even when we might be a little hesitant, that things really begin to happen. Say “yes,” even if it means stepping outside of your comfort zone. You may surprise yourself.


OK. So it’s Z and I’m reaching, but go with me on this…

Like passion and positivity, zest will pay off in spades. Being upbeat about what you do and attacking your projects with enthusiasm will set you apart from the rest.

Tell us how you roll. What would you add to this list?alphabet blocks


10 responses
  1. doran(paintswithwords) Avatar

    Good basic pointers…
    one for X= X out or eliminate what does not add to or clarify the writing…:))

  2. kayakergirl Avatar

    Lots of great points, especially humor. When life kicks you down, humor is the best way to keep rolling down the hill then back up again. This was a great list to read through. I’ll have to work on a few more points on this.

  3. Phil Avatar

    Though flexibility is important, so are finances. As you get started, you typically need another source of income, savings or both.

  4. Buck Weber Avatar

    Very nice!

    How about Xtreme devotion to your craft. Great list, but while reading it I just KNEW you would have nothing for X.

    You are a gem, keep up the great work.

  5. Natasha Puryear Avatar

    Deb – I started my list of what you need to be a great freelancer with self-discipline. I am still working on it but I feel that the more self-disciplined you are the better you are able to handle all the other roles that come along with freelancing from job hunter to salesman.

  6. Carson Brackney Avatar

    I nominate “Xenophon” for X.

    He was a mercenary, philosopher, historian and student of Socrates.

    Follow the money.
    Understand history and context.
    Learn from the best.

    It’s a stretch, but you gotta pick *something* for X.

    Groovy post!

  7. rebecca subbiah Avatar

    This is an awesome post, yes to all of the above

  8. Deb Avatar

    Thanks guys, and thanks especially for the X suggestions.

  9. Neil J Lloyd Avatar

    Nice work. For X, how about Xtra-ordinary?

  10. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell Avatar

    Great List! I am printing this and hanging it on the wall!

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