10 Basic Rules to Help You Become a Successful Freelance Writer

Date of publishing: 03/12/2015 08:00

Freelance writing is not for everyone. Not everyone has the ability to handle the challenges and drawbacks of freelance work. However, if you are really determined to succeed in doing freelance writing, you can impose the following rules on yourself to boost your chances for success.

  1. Value your work so don’t give them away for free. If you don’t show that you know your work’s worth, they will similarly not see the value of the articles you write. It’s always tempting to share or post your works for everyone to read and share but use some restraint. This is okay if you have no intentions of becoming a freelance writer but if your goal is to get paid to write, make sure that you are not just writing for free. You may consider giving out free guest posts to some sites or blogs but make sure you only do this to kickstart your writing career. Also, post your free articles only on reputable and respected sites.

  2. Know how much your time is worth. As a freelancer, you must be aware of the value of time you spend in working on projects. Typically, this is dictated by an hourly rate. You have to ascertain how much you should be charging clients for your time. In the Philippines, the rates vary widely. You will just know how much you should be charging once you have already immersed yourself in the world of freelancing. You can’t just set out dictating your own rates unless you already have the experience and you are the one being sought, not the one peddling your service.

  3. Get the most conducive workspace. Everybody needs the right space to do a job properly. There are those who may have the “talent” to concentrate on their work that they are able to produce something acceptable in the midst of noise and chaos. If you are not one of them, you must get the right space for you. A home office is not a bad setup but if you need something better, consider getting a coworking space or hot desk.

  4. Specialize. This does not necessarily mean that you should just focus on one specialization or category. Feel free to continue exploring the subjects that interest you but be sure to have a field or two wherein you can confidently claim that you are an expert. Choose a field you are truly interested in and learn more about through reading and experience.

  5. Master your pitch. Aside from being an excellent content writer, if you intend to become a freelancer, you must also perfect your pitch. You need to know how to sell your service. Be straightforward but interesting. When you write your proposal to a prospective client, learn to demonstrate your writing skills. Also, observe brevity. Editors and project managers don’t have the luxury of time to read through lengthy pitches.

  6. Don’t just respect but strictly follow deadlines. Companies hire freelance writers with the expectation that they can get the output on the agreed time. Sometimes, they even prefer freelancers to avoid the red tape involved in working with writers who work under a company. One sure way to disappoint and drive away clients is the inability to meet deadlines so it’s important to always beat deadlines. If there are compelling reasons why you can’t meet the deadline, you must promptly inform the client.

  7. Be personable. Make sure that you are pleasant to work with. If you have apprehensions or complaints regarding the demands of a project, always be polite in expressing them. If you think your editor is wrong, point out the error without offending anyone. If you are asked to do changes, be tolerant as much as possible unless you feel you are already being abused. Moreover, don’t be critical of an article you wrote that has been modified by your editor. This will get you the reputation of being a complainer and blame passer.

  8. Tap on your connections and build good relationships with editors. Don’t expect that writing jobs will just come to you. Even if you are highly skilled, projects will not automatically go to you. If you are great, others could be as great or even greater. Learn to use your connections to actively pursue opportunities. On the other hand, editors are some of the most important persons you should establish connections with. Remember that if there are freelancers, there are also freelance editors. These editors don’t work with just one company. If you get to impress them, they will likely remember you and consider you for the projects they may encounter. There are also editors who work for just one company. If you similarly impress them, there’s a higher likelihood that they will contact you if they have new projects to work on.

  9. Understand and make the most of social media. Don’t limit yourself to LinkedIn for your job-related social networking. Even the “more social” social media can help you get new clients or projects. Project managers and editors also use social media so if they know you as a freelance writer, they might consider you for a job. You will also get greater chances of attracting jobs on social media if you habitually share good articles you authored on your social media pages. You can also post the articles you have written for your clients if they allow it. Sometimes, they will appreciate you posting links to the articles you wrote for them since it helps them in their promotional efforts. You are not “giving away for free” your articles by doing this. For starters, the articles you share have already been paid. You are simply promoting them and helping yourself build your reputation as a writer.

  10. Maintain records and learn the art of organizing. If you are a freelancer writer, you are a self-employed individual or someone involved in a business. You need to take everything seriously. That’s why it is important to be good at keeping records. It is advisable to keep your records on the cloud so you wouldn’t worry about losing them. Also, learn to efficiently organize your work. Use codes and prefixes to quickly find your work and to facilitate faster billing.

These rules do not guarantee that you will surely become a successful freelance writer. They can however provide significant help but if you don’t have the acceptable level of skill in writing and if you have already encountered successive major failures like the inability to meet deadlines or satisfy the clients’ preferred kind of writing, you may have to start considering other career options. The assumption here is that you are already a good writer who deserves the title “writer.


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