Earlier this week, I had a new freelance writer ask me how much writers earn and how long it takes them to start earning. Unfortunately, industry averages don’t tell you anything about how you will do as a freelancer.
But I mentioned that in my experience mentoring freelance writers, I’ve discovered there are some basic factors that are strong predictors of freelance-writing success.
What are your odds of earning big? Take this quiz and find out:
My 10-point Freelance Writer’s Success Forecasting Quiz
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 for each of these points.
- Motivation. Successful freelance writers are internally motivated to work on their business. How driven are you to make a success of your freelance writing career? For instance, do you find yourself blowing off TV because you want to work on your freelance goals, and that it’s easy to psych up for marketing your writing?
1=I’m not driven
2=I kinda maybe want it a little
3=Yeah, I want it
4=I really want to make this to happen. Not kidding.
5=I’m all fired up
- Available time. How much time do you have to devote to launching your freelance writing career?
1=Only an hour or two a week
2=I could stop watching TV and gain 8 hours right there
3=I’ve got 10-15 hours I could free up
4=I could do it at least half-time
5=I can go at it full time
- Self-confidence. How confident are you in your abilities as a writer? How do you feel about putting yourself out there and marketing your writing?
1=I’m very insecure
2=Not exactly bursting with self-confidence here
3=I’m not totally down on myself
4=I think I’m OK
5=Damn, I’m good
- Flexibility. Are you willing to explore any and all types of writing that might pay the bills, or are you only willing to pursue a specific type such as writing for national consumer magazines?
1=I just want to do one kind of writing — and it’s on my own blog
2=I could maybe blog for other people, too
3=I could probably write blogs and articles
4=I could see mixing in some copywriting or tech writing if it paid better
5=I’m totally open to exploring whatever writing opportunities might pay the bills
- Other options. Do you have other means of putting food on the table — a career you could resume, or a spouse earning a decent income?
2=spouse makes enough to cover our bills
3=I have a day job now so I could just keep it
4=I could maybe work part-time on the side
5=no other way to feed the family — I totally have to make this happen!
- Fianancial resources. Do you have the money to invest a little in the tools and learning you might need to succeed in freelance writing?
1=I am basically out of cash
2=If Demand Studios paid a day late I’d be out on the street
3=I’m just scraping by
4=I’ve got a little extra cash to put into this
5=Money is no object
- Positive feedback. Are you someone who always got A’s in creative writing or English? Have you won writing contests, or had others praise your work?
1=No strokes yet
2=I got good grades in writing
3=There was that one writing contest I won
4=I’ve had more than one person tell me I should write professionally
5=I’ve won me some awards
- Education. Have you ever studied English, journalism, creative writing, copywriting, or marketing?
1=no education in this area
2=I took a writing class once in college
3=I got a university extension certificate
4=I earned an A.A. degree
5=I have a B.A. degree or higher
- Pro writing experience. Have you ever written for pay before, either as a freelancer or staffer?
1=I have no previous clips
2=I’ve written for mills only
3=I’ve got a couple of clips
4=I have a small portfolio of clips from a few different markets
5=I’m an experienced, paid writer
- Business experience. Have you ever had your own home-based business before, or helped manage a business for someone else?
1=No previous business experience
2=I’ve sold Girl Scout Cookies
3=I’ve helped manage a company before
4=I had another successful home-based business in the past
1-20 points — There are some serious obstacles to your getting a good-paying freelance writing career going, especially in the short term.
21-34 points — You have some assets as a freelancer, but there are some potential roadblocks here, too. You will probably need some time to gradually build your income.
35-50 points — You’ve got a lot going for you as a freelance writer. You ought to be able to ramp up your earnings fairly quickly.
Are there other traits that are essential to freelance-writing success? Tell us your theory on what it takes to make it.