Some freelance writers have a steady stream of work — more writing gigs than they can handle! — while other freelancers are always job hunting. These five tips will help you be the writer who keeps getting hired…
Before the tips, a quip: “The three things that are most essential to achievement are common sense, hard work and stick-to-it-iv-ness.” ~ Thomas Edison.
Successful freelance writers don’t need to write like Elizabeth Gilbert or promote themselves like Linda Formichelli (what a cool handle! “The Renegade Writer“). Rather, they need to hone the “stick-to-it-iv-ness” characteristic because that one trait can make or break a freelancing career.
If you wish you could write for a living, you might find Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love helpful. And, here are five tips to bolster your freelancing career…
5 Ways to Be the Writer Who Gets Hired
1. 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! 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 (for instance, the successful completion of a project with excellent customer service, flexibility, and enthusiasm will help you land future writing jobs).
2. Visit your clients or editors in person. I’ve been writing for BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver for two months (newsletters, donation letters, etc). 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 (ED) 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.
3. 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 was at BC Women’s, the 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 get more freelance work, fellow scribes, you must get (and stay) under your clients’ noses.
4. 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 be the writer who gets hired you’ll get!). 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.
5. Break down the obstacles to your freelancing career. What are the top three obstacles that hold you back from a successful writing career? 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. To get more freelance work, you need to figure out what holds you back, and deliberately deconstruct that obstacle.
This article has been updated, and reposted as 5 Ways to Become a Freelance Writer Who Gets Repeat Work.
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Are you a freelance writer who gets hired, or do you struggle to find gigs? I welcome your thoughts and questions below…