How to Build a Successful Freelance Writing Business – 5 Freelancing Tips

Selling articles to magazines as a freelancer takes time, effort, and dedication. But, you CAN build a successful freelance writing business — especially if you try these freelancing tips from a professional writer. 

Before the tips, a quip:

“I love being a writer,” said Peter de Vries. “What I can’t stand is the paperwork.”

That’s a major hurdle for some freelance writers: the paperwork of invoicing, tracking submissions, signing and filing contracts (and sending them back), saving receipts, and recording payments and outstanding invoices. Ugh. But, that’s part of being a freelancer.

Some of the following tips for building a thriving freelance writing career are from The Portable Writers’ Conference: Your Guide to Getting and Staying Published — a fabulous resource for writers. And the rest are from me, a full-time freelance writer and blogger…

How to Build a Successful Freelance Writing Business – 5 Freelancing Tips

1. Think of your writing career as a business. When my husband casually mentioned my “writing career” a few months ago, I started to realize the importance of thinking about my love for writing as a business (not a hobby). It’s my job – my career – and I’m an entrepreneur. Once I started thinking of editors as my clients, my blogs as marketing tools, and my ideas and creativity part of my business day, my freelance writing career took off!

2. Write a mission statement for your writing business. In The Portable Writer’s Conference, Terri Lonier gave a keynote address called “Quit Your Day Job? Fifteen Secrets to Running a Successful Home-Based Writing Business.” Here, she writes, “You’d be surprised at how challenging – and worthwhile – it can be to summarize your company’s values and goals in a sentence or two…This process will clarify your thinking and bring focus to your efforts.” If you want to build a successful career in freelancing, you need to write a mission statement.

3. Write excellent articles, and submit them on time. Your magazine articles are your service (or product, depending on how you look at them); you need to make sure you’re reliable, consistent, helpful, businesslike, and dependable. In The Portable Writer’s Conference, Lonier also recommends showing appreciation via handwritten notes, emails, or even modest gifts once in a awhile to say “thanks.”

4. Clarify the payment details for your articles. This is a tip for making money as a freelance writer can be difficult to get used to: ask “how much do you pay?” after (not before) you get the assignment. I always ask my editors what the fee is – or what I’ll be invoicing for – even if they’ve paid me $1 per word for the last assignments. You don’t need a contract; a simple “1,200 words, $1 per word” in an email will do.

5. Be generous with other freelance writers. “Seasoned entrepreneurs understand the abundance that comes from giving to others,” writes Lonier in The Portable Writers Conference. “Share your writings, your books, your sources, your insights, your praise…more than two decades of this approach have shown me that the power of connecting will pay you back many times over — that you’ll be the one who reaps the greatest rewards.” To be a highly effective writer, you need to connect often and well.

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Terri Lonier is the founder of

If you have thoughts or questions on these freelancing tips, I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below…

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