You Don’t Have to Be Hemingway: Top Five Skills for Successful Freelance Writers
This may surprise you, but writing isn’t necessarily the most important skill a successful freelance writer needs to have. Sure, you need to be able to string words together nicely, but there are many other skills that come to play when you write for a living. Consider the following:
Top Five Skills for Successful Freelance Writers
In addition to being able to write adequately, a successful freelance writer needs to wear the many hats of a small business owner. In order to do that—and make money—he or she needs to have the following skills:
1. Persistence. The first writing job or ghostwriter service you apply for will likely not hire you. Just as actors have to go to a lot of casting calls to land a part, writers have to send out a lot of queries and applications to secure a single writing job. To stay with it, you need persistence. (The good news is that the more experience you gain, the more “yeses” you’ll get.)
2. Being a self starter. Unless you’re writing for Time magazine, writing one article a day isn’t going to pay your bills. Being able to make a living through writing means being able to ignore the telephone, the doorbell, the cat in your lap and the beautiful weather outside and stay focused on writing. You’ll also need to be willing to write six, if not seven days a week.
3. Marketing prowess. Writing for a living means spending at least a portion of every day selling your writing services to potential clients. It helps to be able to present those services in an appealing way.
4. Patience. A lucrative writing career, like most other careers, doesn’t happen overnight. Most budding freelancers need to supplement their writing income with another part-time job. Having patience will allow you to survive those lean years and reap the benefits that come with experience as a freelancer.
5. Thick skin. As with any sales job (and selling your writing IS a sales job), you’re going to get more rejections than sales. It’s also not uncommon for editors to slash the text you’ve spent hours laboring over, using less than well-chosen words. In those instances, it’s good to have a thick skin and be able to take the criticism and/or rejection without comment.
So, if you want to become a full-time writer, we’ll assume you can write. However, before you quit your day job, it’s wise to also assess your other skills. Do you have what it takes?
Sandy M is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.