10 Tips for Becoming a Better Freelance Writer

Here are ten solid tips for becoming a better freelance writer. You don’t need a four leaf clover to be lucky in writing – because you can create your own luck!

First, here’s a quip from Thomas Jefferson:

“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

To improve your writing career, read Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz. You don’t have to be a mom to benefit from her tips for freelance writers! And, read on for ten tips for becoming a better freelance writer…

10 Tips for Becoming a Better Freelance Writer

1. Take risks. The more calculated risks you take, the higher your chances of success in writing are. Send queries to national magazines even if you don’t have clips – but make sure you follow their writer’s guidelines. Contact experts and article sources – but always be professional and respectful. To become a better freelance writer, take smart, thoughtful risks.

2. Act on opportunities. I finally sold an article to MSN Health after I pitched several ideas. How did I find that writing opportunity? It was the fine print at the bottom of their website: “looking for freelance writers” or words to that effect. When you see opportunities like that, pitch once, twice, thrice…up to a dozen times. The most successful freelance writers are those who see the possibilities and actually follow up on them. Repeatedly.

3. Listen to your gut. To improve your chances as a freelance writer, tune in to your instincts. Do you feel compelled to pitch to that magazine, contact that publisher or read this particular book? Your mind, emotions, and body pick up on signals in your environment and in the universe – so to become a better writer, listen to your gut.

4. Keep everything. One of my favorite television shows is The People’s Court with Judge Marilyn Milian. The “lucky” people in her courtroom are those who have all their documents ready, get all their agreements in writing, and keep all their receipts. Being organized is one of the best ways to become a better freelance writer.

If you aren’t sure how to repurpose your writing, read 11 Types of Magazine Articles to Write.

5. Imagine how things could be worse. When you keep getting writing rejections and no word at all from publishers, you can improve your chances as a freelance writer by visualizing how life could be worse. Picturing the worse case scenario (and how lucky you really are) will increase your feelings of gratitude, which will keep you cheerful and optimistic. The more optimistic you are, the more you’ll improve your chances as a writer.

6. Get savvy with self-fulfilling prophecies. In psychology, a “self-fulfilling prophecy” is “a false definition of situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true.” In other words, what you believe will come true because you will subconsciously and consciously act in ways that cause the event to happen. Self fulfilling prophecies are very powerful and real. One of the best ways to become a better freelance writer is to believe you’re already successful.

7. Be like a Boy Scout. If you want to be lucky in your freelance writing career, then you’ll need to prepare for all eventualities. The luckiest writers are those who actually prepare for queries, phone calls, and interviews. The luckiest writers are those who actually hone their writing skills.

8. Let go of your expectations. Don’t tie yourself down to a particular outcome: publication in that magazine, a response from this editor, or a full feature article with coverage on the front page. To become a better writer, you need to be open to all possible outcomes – some of which could be better than the ones you originally wanted.

9. Take control of your life. The least empowering thing you can do is think or say, “There’s nothing I can do.” While it’s true that you can’t change a rejection from Time magazine – you can change how you cope with those writing rejections. When you feel powerless, find ways to cope. Form a support network, find people who believe in you, create ways to help others so you can help yourself, and focus on the things that make you feel good about yourself as a writer and entrepreneur.

10. Diversify! This isn’t just sound investment advice, it can actually improve your chances as a freelance writer as well. Diversifying in writing means exploring many different paths to one destination (publication!). For instance, if I want to be a successful freelance writer, I need to cultivate relationships with at least a dozen magazines. One of the best ways to become a better freelance writer is to make sure you explore all the possible different path to a single destination (publication!).

If you don’t know how to manage money while writing, read 6 Tips for Living Off the Feast and Famine of Freelance Writing.

Fellow scribes, do you have any tips on becoming a better freelance writer – or a response to anything I’ve said above? Fire away below!

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