Every week, I hear from people who ask me how to become a freelance writer.
You hate your job, or you can’t work outside the home, or you want to be home with your kids…the reasons vary. But the glamorous reputation of freelancing has caught your eye. Being your own boss sure sounds great!
Everyone wants to know how this gig works — how to stay home and pay your bills with your writing.
Aspiring freelancers usually have strong writing skills. But there are other strengths you may lack that could doom your chances.
What does it take to be a successful freelance writer? Is this career for you?
Here’s my unvarnished, let’s-get-real list of key traits you’ll need:
NOTE: Want to know how to think like a successful freelance writer? It’s starts with getting a few things straight, beginning with this advice I shared a while ago. Enjoy! —Carol.
The Internet has brought us many gifts, as freelance writers.
But it also brings with it a lot of misinformation and confused notions as to how to go about building a successful freelance writing career.
If you make assumptions off the bat about how freelance writing works, you can waste a lot of time and energy.
(Here’s a hint: If you’re just starting out, don’t assume anything. Ask successful freelance writers and find out what’s really working today.)
Frustrated? Confused? Spinning your wheels about how to be one of those successful freelance writers?
Let’s iron this out right now.
Take a look at my top seven wrong-headed notions that leave new freelance writers floundering in their quest to get paid:
Are you stuck trying to figure out how to attract customers to build your freelance writing career?
If you’re taking any old gig, it’s hard to get any real traction. You have to constantly market yourself, and never acquire expertise that helps you raise your rates and grow your income.
The solution: Learn how to attract customers who give you clips that will impress the best clients in your chosen industry niches, like I teach my Den 2X students.
Sit down right now and make a list of your 10-20 top prospects. What great-paying markets would you write for? Think big! For me, this list includes Vanity Fair, Costco, and American Express (wrote for the latter two in the past, but would love to get back in!).
Once you have that list, you need to figure out who you could write for now. Do it right, and those great clients will be contacting you. Wouldn’t that be sweet?
It’s one of many strategies I teach in my Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator mastermind program to help students identify who to pitch now to land dream clients, often in 6 months or less.
Here are 15 different approaches I’ve never shared outside of Den 2X before, to help you build the portfolio your ideal clients will love:
When you’ve created over 900 posts full of free help for freelance writers, it’s hard to remember every single post. Becomes a bit of a blur!
But a few posts stand out in my memory, because I keep sending their links out to struggling writers, week after week. They’re posts that address a writer’s critical need to understand some aspect of freelancing.
You’ve got urgent questions about how to make it as a freelance writer — and these are the posts that deliver the answers.
I can’t remember where I put my sweater half the time these days, but there are a few key posts that come easily to mind, because I find myself sending writers off to read them again and again.
After nearly a decade (!) writing this blog to provide help for freelance writers, these seven posts seem to address the most common problems freelancers face:
Ever wonder what smart freelancers are doing when it comes to writing for money?
I did. I thought about it a lot when I was working in retail.
You know, minimum wage, run the cashier, stock shelves, talk to customers. Same shift, different day.
When I finally decided to quit, I thought I had freelancing figured out.
But it didn’t take long to realize I couldn’t keep going without good pay from writing for money to cover my bills.
I expected an immediate, steady income. I’d heard some really great stories about successful writers and thought I could be one of them.
So imagine my surprise when the new clients I desperately needed didn’t magically appear at my door with handfuls of cash.
It was frustrating. And I knew I had to do something about it if I wanted to stick with freelancing.
A lot of freelance writers have a poverty mentality. I hear a lot of, “I’m just hoping to make a fraction of what I made at my day job. I need to earn enough from my writing income to survive.”
That’s one mindset of some freelance writers. But there’s another way to approach your freelance business.
If you take the attitude that your freelance writing income is unlimited, you can see your income explode.
That’s what happened to Canadian freelance writer Sylvie Tremblay, who recently graduated from my Den 2X Income Accelerator. After a year in the program, which starts with making a mindset shift to believe in yourself, she tripled her writing income, going from subsistence, paycheck-to-paycheck living to having money in the bank, traveling, and feeling financially secure.
Among the highlights of Sylvie’s story that you’ll see in the video: