Can You Make Money as a Freelance Writer? 7 Signs Writing is the Career for You

Do you dream of earning money writing for magazines — making money as a freelance writer? These seven signs that writing is the career for you are based on characteristics of successful freelancers. If you say “yes” to most of these signs of successful writers, then perhaps you can make mony writing!

First, here’s a tip about not waiting for the writing muse:

“To be a writer is to sit down at one’s desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone – just plain going at it, in pain and delight,” says John Hersey. “To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over….”

If you want to make money writing, you can’t wait for the muse or inspiration. Busy freelance writers can’t afford to struggle with writer’s block or the temptations the internet brings. If you’re starting your career (or if your career has stalled), read Jenna Glatzer’s Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments. And, here are seven traits of successful freelance writers that could help you determine if writing is the right career for you…

Can You Make Money as a Freelance Writer? 7 Signs Writing is the Career for You

If you see yourself in these traits of successful writers, then perhaps you’ll be more successful than you could ever dream!

1. Successful freelance writers are chameleons. Writers make money if they’re willing to let editors help direct their aritcle ideas, sources, and sometimes even their writing style. It’s especially important at the beginning of a writing career to accept input and mold writing to fit the publication’s format and content. Later, after writers are more successful, they’re more able to pick and choose publications, article ideas, sources, and so on.

2. Successful freelance writers are good with money. Any entrepreneur needs to be good at managing money and preparing for the lean times — because they will come. Freelance writers need at least three months’ worth of living expenses saved up, to carry them through the weeks (or months) of no assignments. This is especially important for freelancers who are just starting their magazine writing careers because they don’t have many contacts or relationships with editors yet.

3. Successful freelance writers don’t take rejection personally. Freelance writing is the right career choice for people who are not discouraged by rejections or “no thank you” responses from editors. Making money as a freelance writer requires continuous pitching of article ideas, and the acceptance that only one article in 10 or even 20 may be assigned by editors.

4. Successful freelance writers are organized. Right now, I’m revising and re-pitching an idea I sent to Child magazine two years ago — I’ve created a twist on my old idea that works better. The more organized I am as a businessperson, the more successful I am as a writer. For instance, I keep all my old query letters, and periodically review them for new ideas and re-pitches.

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5. Successful freelance writers are self-disciplined. Freelance writing is the right career choice for people who are self-disciplined and self-motivated — and aren’t easily distracted by the internet, tv, housecleaning, or a bag of Lay’s chips. Being disciplined means writers work with their personalities and lifestyles, and don’t force themselves to be something they’re not. For some, this means disconnecting their wireless or internet connection for two hour stints while they write. Or, it can mean limiting themselves to five Twitter update a day – not five per hour.

6. Successful freelance writers are okay with – or good at – promoting themselves. To make money freelancing, writers, need to honestly and objectively share their experiences, achievements, and credentials without cringing. Many writers aren’t able to discuss their achievements (they thing they’re boasting)…but successful freelance writers, like any entrepreneur, have to be able to share their achievements without hesitation.

7. Successful freelance writers are willing to learn to write. Successful writers don’t necessarily need journalism or writing degrees, but they need to be open to improving their writing skills. This means being grateful to editors who ask for edits, because it offers the opportunity to make their writing clear and accessible – and it gives writers more writing practice. More ways to improve writing skills includes attending writing conferences and analyzing Pulitzer Prize feature articles to learn what works.

I started my writing career by working at a part-time office job, and eventually moved to writing full-time…and I think freelancing part-time is the best way to figure out if writing is a good career choice.

Oh yes, and freelancers who want to earn a living need to network! Read Networking Tips for Successful Writers for help.

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If you have any questions or thoughts on making money as a writer, please comment below…

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7 thoughts on “Can You Make Money as a Freelance Writer? 7 Signs Writing is the Career for You

  • Laurie PK

    Thanks for your comments, everyone — George, you’ve made my day! And congratulations, Rebecca, on landing a new client….another step forward in your writing career…

  • Rebecca

    I love to write. I recently landed another client. My editor is very pleased with my writing style and has offered guidance on occasion(I appreciate it).

    I am very fortunate to have found this opportunity. My writing is being stretched beyond my “comfort zone.” I write articles on many topics. I’ve written on topics that normally I would have stayed away from in the past. Not anymore 🙂

  • Tumblemoose

    I look forward to Q&T in my inbox. Part of the reason why is because of posts just like this. If anyone is even thinking about heading down the freelance road, they should heed the advice here.

    Bravo, and More! More!