Here are five tips on how to become a freelance writer who keeps getting work from editors of print and online magazines. One thing I didn’t realize when I first started freelancing was that good writers don’t have to keep pitching articles. Editors need a stable good writers, and when they find a writer who is smart, professional, and easy to work with, they keep that writer busy.
Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published by Robert Lee Brewer is the book I recommend, whether you’re learning how to become a freelance writer or you’ve been freelancing for years. Even if you think you know all the markets and editors, you need to know what’s hot, what’s cold — and what markets other freelance writers are running after. It’s a competitive space, and the more informed you are, the easier it’ll be to get hired to write articles.
Some freelance writers have a steady stream of work – more writing gigs than they can handle! – while other freelancers are always job hunting. Which route do you want to go? Tell me you want to enjoy a steady stream of work! Because that’s what these tips are geared towards – helping you became invaluable to editors, so they send you assignments.
5 Ways to Become a Freelance Writer
If you’re looking for an article on how to start your writing career, read You Want to Be a Writer? How to Get Started. These tips are for freelance writers who need ways to stay connected with editors they’ve already been in contact with. getting repeat work or article assignments to come to you is the name of the successful writing game.
Stay on your editors’ and clients’ radar screen. No matter how gripping your last feature article or project was — no matter how amazing you are — clients will forget you. When I writing for BC Women’s Hospital, the Executive Director (ED) asked if I had experience with press conferences. He needed someone to organize one within a week. I said sorry but nope, that’s out of my realm. Another staff member mentioned a public relations professional, and the ED slapped his forehead and said, “Of course! How could I forget her? She’s perfect for the job!” To become a freelance writer who gets repeat work, fellow scribes, you must get (and stay) under your clients’ noses.
Break down the obstacles to your freelancing career. What are the top three obstacles that hold you back from getting repeat work? Maybe you struggle to find ideas for feature articles, or you can’t follow through on your writing goals. Maybe you spend too much time reading blogs and taking freelance writing classes, and not enough time discovering and overcoming your personal and professional roadblocks. This tip on how to become a freelance writer is about figuring out what holds you back, and deliberately deconstructing that obstacle.
The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams – On Your Terms by Sara Horowitz will help you overcome almost any obstacle I can think of. Becoming a freelance writer, blogger, editor, ghostwriter, or any other type of writer isn’t hard, but it does take effort. You need to be professional – and this book will help you become a freelance writer who is prepared for anything.
Be a team player; let go of your writing. Instead of gripping your sentences and articles with both fists, focus on working with your clients to get the job done. This can be tough for writers; our words are our identity — especially if we believe that writing is about opening our veins and bleeding all over the laptop. But, the sooner we let go of our writing and get those articles written, the more successful our freelancing careers will be. Listen to your editors’ and clients’ requests, accept their edits, and keep the big picture in mind. The successful completion of a freelance writing project involves excellent customer service, flexibility, and enthusiasm (on YOUR part, not your editors’ 🙂 ).
Visit your clients or editors in person. This tip on how to become a freelance writer is from my experience writing for BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver. When they invited me to tour the hospital, I thought it would be a “nice thing to do” – not realizing it would be the best thing ever! The tour changed how I see hospitals, which enriched my writing. Further, I can now put a face to the names in my email correspondence, and the visit added a new dimension to my relationship with BC Women’s. In fact, the Executive Director even offered me more work in communications and public relations, which I had to turn down. Visiting your editors and clients in person may be challenging for freelance writers, but it can make the difference between being a busy writer or a starving writer.
Get specific feedback from your editors, publishers, and clients. The more you hear about your professional conduct, the better you’ll perform (and the more often you’ll become the freelance writer who gets repeat work). Learn about your good and bad writing habits; tweak your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses. When you complete a project or feature article, ask your editors for two things you did right, and two things you could improve on. Of course, this depends on your relationship with your clients, how many times you worked with them, etc. The idea is to avoid the “But I’m the best freelance writer in the world! Why didn’t they hire me again?” mentality. Instead, see yourself through your clients’ and editors’ eyes.
One last tip on how to become a freelance writer who gets repeat work: Focus. I watch Dragons’ Den at lunch every day, and one of the things the dragons say is that if you haven’t quit your day job to be the thing you want to be, then they won’t invest in you. You have to focus on making your dreams come try — and your first step is breaking down your dreams into a clear set of goals.
“Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.” – Nido Qubein.
What do you think of these tips on how to become a freelance writer? I welcome your thoughts below…