There are a lot of ‘gurus’ who claim to make a killing as freelance writers and bloggers and won’t shut up about it. They get a lot of attention, but they’re usually trying to sell you something, often saying it’s the key to becoming a successful freelancer.
Over the years, I’ve met a lot of smart freelancer writers who earn enough to live comfortably and save money, without becoming salesmen. If you want to make a serious career as a freelance writer, studying their behavior is a great place to start.
In this article, we’ll break down the four characteristics most successful freelance writers share. We’ll talk about why they’re important and how you can adopt them to become better at your craft. Let’s get to it!
1. They’re Always on the Lookout for More Work
Perhaps the hardest part of being a full-time freelancer is you always have to keep an eye out for new jobs. Most established freelancers will agree that long-term gigs are pretty few-and-far in between, even less so ones that pay well.
In practice, that means you always need to be checking out job boards, freelance groups, and social media so you don’t miss any future opportunities. Unless your docket is going to be full for the foreseeable future, you should also be on the lookout.
Often, new freelancers find a gig or two and then forget all about pitching new clients. What happens then is once those jobs are done, you’re desperate to take on any new projects as fast as possible. Pitching clients can take a lot of time, though. For the best results, set aside an hour or two every few days to look for new jobs, send out your portfolio, and get the ball rolling.
2. High Per-Word Rates
Let’s say you want to earn $4,000 per month as a freelancer so you’re comfortable. If you charge $0.03 per word, it’ll take you 133,333 of them to get to that point. Just to give you an idea, that’s the equivalent of almost three The Great Gatsby’s. Most people can’t write the equivalent of a novel in a month, so the answer is, of course, to charge more for your work.
Finding not-so-well paid work is much easier, which is a trap a lot of green freelance writers fall into. In my case, I wasted a lot of time on mills when I could’ve easily been earning more just by directly pitching clients with serious budgets.
The whole concept of sending pitches for projects can be scary. However, once you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll quickly realize there’s no reason to be afraid. Most times, you won’t hear back, but that’s why you should be contacting as many clients as possible within your field.
To put it simply, finding work as a freelancer can take a lot of work. That’s why you want to make sure you charge accordingly, so you don’t give away your time for free.
3. They Have a Process in Place for Handling Projects
Being a freelance writer involves a lot more work than just writing. Before you crack open your trusty text editor, you have to go through a lot of steps, including:
- Pitching clients
- Working out project scopes and payment terms
- Getting a contract ready and submitting it
Even after you’re done writing, you still need a process in place to deliver that work. For example, do you upload it to Google Docs and share it or post it directly to the client’s blog? My point is, you want to streamline every part of your work that doesn’t involve writing.
When it comes to the writing itself, you want to take your time so you deliver the best work possible. For everything else, you want to be as efficient as possible so you can get to the work part right away. After all, as a freelance writer, you’re not paid by the hour, but by the word (in most cases!).
4. They Look for Out-of-the-Box Earning Opportunities
When most people think about freelance writers, they imagine someone writing blog posts or articles for an online portal. Those jobs exist and they’re plentiful. However, there are also a lot of non-traditional jobs you’re free to target as a freelance writer.
Some of the writers I know also do affiliate marketing on the side. A friend dabbles in self-publishing via Amazon, which doesn’t earn her a lot, but it’s passive income.
One of the most successful freelance writers I know only works on direct email marketing. That means he writes emails designed to get sales, most often for e-commerce websites. Often, a single email will pay well into four figures, which is not the norm for freelance writing jobs.
If you want to focus solely on writing blog articles, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there are a lot more opportunities in freelance writing and if you keep an eye out for them, you can have a lot of fun working on unorthodox projects.
Whatever types of projects you want to focus on, I recommend you specialize in a niche and market yourself accordingly. The more experienced you are with a specific field, the higher rates you can command. Plus, it’s easier to get client referrals if you’re well known in that niche.
There’s no magic formula for success in any field of work. However, there are a lot of things you can do to maximize your odds of finding success as a freelance writer. If you make enough money to finance your lifestyle and pad your savings, you’re way ahead of most freelancers. That said, there’s always room for more growth.
The most successful freelance writer I know share a few key characteristics that put them ahead in the game, including:
- They’re always on the lookout for more work
- High per-word rates
- They have a process in place for handling projects
- They look for out-of-the-box earning opportunities
Do you have any questions about how to find success as a freelance writer? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.