The 20 Best Practical Tips for Freelance Writers

The 20 Best Practical Tips for Freelance Writers. Makealivingwriting.comI knew you had something to share from your own freelance writer’s journey, when I asked you for your best advice last week.

But the number and quality of responses blew me away. It wasn’t easy to pick the winners!

As promised, below are my 20 favorite tips for freelance writers, contributed by readers here on the blog. They will each be getting a one-month free pass to The Freelance Writers Den, my soon-to-open, comfy hangout for freelance writers who want to grow their income.

These winners are listed in the order their comments were received —  no way I’m trying to rank them. I’ve linked to everyone who listed a website.

  1. Develop your craft and have a thick skin. It takes hard work and persistence to be successful. There’s no whining in freelance writing (or at least there shouldn’t be).–Wendy
  2. If you usually spend your days in your house, make time to go outside or find some sort of coworking space where you can interact with other people. You can’t network if you never leave your writing cave–Kymlee
  3. Learn to write proposals and expect to write them on a regular basis. Whether they are cold proposals to business owners, query letters to publishers, or responses to help wanted ads, well-crafted proposals will land you the more lucrative opportunities.–Tammi Kibler
  4. Building relationships with editors can’t be stressed enough. Don’t just reach out to them when you have a pitch. Try shooting an email whenever you hear of an interesting story that might intrigue them or a news tip that would help them at work.–Terri
  5. Listen to the client. REALLY listen. People have become interrupters to a startling degree. Real listening is rare. Let the client talk until they’re finished without interrupting.–Mardi Link
  6. Someone told me at a conference last  year: “EN — everything’s negotiable.” You can negotiate the rate if you don’t think it will work out to a decent amount on an hourly basis. You can negotiate the deadline if you have too much on your plate already. You can negotiate rights if they ask you to sign a work for hire agreement. And if you’re not happy with what you’re offered after negotiating, you can walk away.–Susan Johnston
  7. Build your own support network. As a freelancer, you don’t have an office full of people to keep you accountable, so create your own accountability.–Alissa
  8. Build in extra time to let your writing “marinate.” Give yourself at least a day inbetween writing and editing.–Megan
  9. Make a writing plan for the week on Sunday and then you have a daily task list to follow for success everyday.–Terri Forehand
  10. If you want to become a full-time freelancer…then just do it. There is no greater motivation for success than having no other choice.–Erin Hill
  11. Trust yourself. I believe each one knows, deep down, what’s right for them…and how to stretch. So trust yourself and go for it.–Anne Wayman
  12. Don’t apply for every single job and pitch every publication out there. You’ll waste your time and energy on opportunities that don’t fit.–Brandi
  13. Never stop learning. I set aside time every month to find a new site to subscribe to.–Karen
  14. Be brave. You are the only thing you can control. Really. So focus on what you can do, what you need to do, to move yourself forward.–Kar
  15. Never never NEVER give up. People will secretly want you to. They will sound concerned for your welfare. Smile politely and carry on.–Cate Morgan
  16. Before you begin a project, get it in writing.–Candace Schuler
  17. Care for yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will. It’s impossible to be a successful writer without your health.–Judy
  18. My favorite tip is hanging over my project board by my desk: It is NOT personal! It is very hard sometimes when an article, idea, proposal or query is turned down. We just need to remember that those are not personal attacks on us.–Melody
  19. I’ve learned to focus on writing about topics that I’m passionate about, or at the very least interested in. There’s nothing worse than trying to bang out a story you care nothing about, even though the publication might pay decently.–Sondi
  20. Don’t waste time on assignments that pay practically nothing and that strangle the soul. I was sure I couldn’t survive without my income from content mills, but the truth is when I stopped writing for the mills, I had more time to seek out better-paying assignments. My income hasn’t suffered at all, and my confidence in myself as a writer has improved 100%.–Debra Stang

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24 comments on “The 20 Best Practical Tips for Freelance Writers
  1. Gerry says:

    Great writing tips and I would add another one i.e. stick to a plan or strategy or methodology when writing. Whether you are a full-time writer or newbie freelancer, you need to learn how to structure your writing thoughts in order to deliver a quality product. By having a methodology that is not too rigid and does make allowance for flexibility, you can become a sought after writer in no time.

  2. Alise Ramey says:

    What a great list! They are all very true, but #1 is my favourite. It can be tough at times to have a thick skin and be persistent but in the long run it should be worth it.

  3. Carol,

    Thank you so much for including my tip in your blog post. It feels good to be in such good company. I was so shocked to find my suggestion amongst your favorite tips when reading your post a few minutes ago.

    Although I am happy to be on your list, I must admit that my tip is no where as good as #10. It is something, I have lived by for as long as I can remember. It truly is amazing to realize what you can do when success is your only option.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, I think they’re all great, and together make a really strong set of advice.

      I’ve been wanting to do a reader-sourced post like this for ages, and thought this came out great! Definitely going to do one of this type again in future.

  4. Karen Cioffi says:

    I just tried to subscribe to your newsletter, but it didn’t work.
    Karen Cioffi recently posted…Following The Rules For The GenreMy Profile

  5. Karen Cioffi says:

    Great freelance writing tips. Numbers 1,8,9,12,13, and 15 are my favorites.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Karen Cioffi recently posted…Following The Rules For The GenreMy Profile

  6. Walker says:

    I love the tips… it’s always helpful to share ideas with others. I need to take more time w/ Tammi’s idea-writing proposals!
    All were very affirming.
    Thanks.
    Walker recently posted…A CopyWriter for The CopyWriterMy Profile

  7. I totally agree w/ #8 and 19.

    # 9 is my challenge. I have a hard time with scheduling for two reasons: 1. I find it difficult to anticipate how long something will take to finish and 2. I get distracted with things that are worthwhile (see #13). I need to learn to schedule in the learning without it taking over the schedule.
    Melissa Worcester recently posted…Easy Pan PizzasMy Profile

  8. vonnie says:

    Carol,

    In the WP dashboard, scroll down to settings then click on sharing. You can then drag the print button to the activated area. Hope this helps.

    V
    vonnie recently posted…5 Articles to read before signing your first writing contractMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Ooh, I’m going to try it!…hmmm, not seeing a ‘sharing’ option. Will have to inquire of my #15 option… professional designer… 🙂

  9. kymlee says:

    …and for including my comment in your list. I’m super excited about the new site!
    kymlee recently posted…Worry Edges Out Possibilities and HappinessMy Profile

  10. kymlee says:

    Wow! So cool to be in such great company! Thanks for tagging me on Twitter. 😉
    kymlee recently posted…Worry Edges Out Possibilities and HappinessMy Profile

  11. vonnie says:

    Thanks for this great list. I also signed for the writing room-hope I get in. 🙂

    Would you consider adding a ‘print’ option on your posts? I love to print them out for reminders and inspiration but the text now prints out small.

    Thanks.
    V
    vonnie recently posted…5 Articles to read before signing your first writing contractMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great suggestion! Let me find out how…

      • Judy says:

        Yes, the option of printing posts would be excellent. Along those lines, Carol, I wish you’d compile many of your blog posts (and maybe some of the comments that were made) into an ebook that people could purchase. That way, all the blog info would be in one handy place that readers could refer to easily, print out, highlight, dogear, etc.

        Thanks for including my tip as #17. And as an aside, if I may add another…

        Tip 21: Have a Web site for your freelance writing business. (Yeah, I don’t have one yet, which is why my name next to my tip displays as a non-hyperlink.) Any writers who don’t have a site yet should go straight over to Carol’s “Products I Love” page on this site and join NAIWE to quickly set up a site through them.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Well, I sort of have…it’s called “Make a Living Writing, the 21st Century Guide” …just click that ebook tab up top. But that doesn’t have anything post-September 2010.

          Frankly, the posts will be even better organized inside The Freelance Writers Den — everything will be pulled together into course themes so it’ll be more useful, I think, and it’ll include multimedia — webinars, podcasts, handouts, reports, worksheets, and more. (Plus a month in there is cheaper than the ebook and includes live Webinars and calls…think it’s a better overall value.)

          AND the Den will have another 30 or so choice posts from my old caroltice.com blog archives PLUS about 40 posts I wrote for WM Freelance Writers Connection, where I guested for a year. In other words a TON of content! It’ll pull together my blog articles from wherever they’ve been and organize them by topic, so if you want to learn about marketing, it’s all in one place.

          But I don’t know how printable it is…will have to look into that! The handouts and things like that will definitely be downloadable. This is why I’m going to have a suggestion box in the Den…

  12. Carol Tice says:

    Next to find everyone’s Twitter handles so I can let them know they’re in this compilation!

    Plus must add everyone’s names to my free-pass list for the Den.

  13. Anne Wayman says:

    Hey Carol, I’m delighted to be #11 – and I’m in such good company! Great collection. Thanks

    (arghhhh my feed’s broken… aboutfreelancewriting.com

  14. Karen says:

    Thanks for these great tips, Carol, and I’m honoured that you included mine. I will bookmark so I remember to return later and have a look at the blogs and websites of all the writers who contributed. Great way to connect people!
    Karen recently posted…Going The Extra Mile With Your WritingMy Profile

  15. Keri says:

    Thanks so much for compiling these great tips. Very practical AND motivating! =)
    Keri recently posted…My 5 Essential WordPress PluginsMy Profile

  16. Linda Bryant says:

    What a wonderful jolt of motivation and truth this morning. These are great! I wish I had remembered to send one. But I did get on the Writers Den list this morning.
    Linda Bryant recently posted…Top 10 Marketing Take Aways from the 2011 IFA ConferenceMy Profile

    • carolt says:

      Glad you signed up…I just took a look and seats are really going fast in the Den Builder waiting room! It’s been under an hour since I emailed subscribers.

      I think there really is a crying need for what I’m going to provide in the Den…a learning community for freelance writers with a lot of live access to experts.
      carolt recently posted…The 20 Best Practical Tips for Freelance WritersMy Profile

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