Many people dream of quitting their nine-to-five jobs and make money from freelancing. They aspire the freedom it brings but overlook the hard work it entails.
Most aspiring writers start full-time freelancing with starry dreams in their eyes. They believe that it will give them immense freedom. They would take their laptops to the beaches of Bali, work as much they like, and live a happy life. Despite the rosy prospects, a vast majority decides to call it to quit after a few months.
Yet, there are few who are able to make a sustainable and satisfying career out of it. So what is it that differentiates successful full-time freelance writers from unhappy ones?
In this post, we shall discuss some qualities that contribute to their success and stability.
1) They have immense patience
Almost all freelancers have to endure a fair share of struggle to build a stable client base. If you want to become a full-time freelancer, forget what everyone else in the world is doing.
For some months, turn a blind eye to the people who are buying new cars or holidaying abroad (it might mean staying away from Facebook). Freelancing is not quick money, so get ready to grind and hustle!
Everyone has to begin from square one. Initially, it would be tough to land genuine clients or clients who offer a consistent workload. Some clients would promise work and disappear after a week. Some will constantly find faults in your copies (when there are none!).
Believe it or not, all freelancers face these nightmarish experiences in their early days. But if they are ready to stick around, they figure out how to avoid these situations and get a steady stream of work.
All established writers have gone through the feast-and-famine cycle a few times in their lives. Yet, they did not give up and carried on. They learned from their mistakes and figured out what worked for them and what didn’t.
2) They are good time managers
Successful freelance writers are great time managers. Yes, they have a say in deciding their deadlines, and they choose their working hours. And they do have more leisure hours than their counterparts who work regular jobs.
But, in the end, they commit a reasonable number of hours to their work every week if they are serious about making money.
Many amateur writers believe that freelancing means no deadlines or little commitments. If you are one of them, sorry to burst your bubble, you are in for a disappointment! It’s difficult to get good projects if you don’t follow a proper schedule or you want to disappear every other week.
Think of it, would you hire a person, who has no fixed working hours or days, for any job? Do you want to pay someone who replies to your mails in an hour or a week, depending on her whim?
Actually, no one wants to hire an unpredictable or undisciplined individual, even for a freelancing job. Clients prefer writers who work at a steady pace and stick to deadlines.
3) They value networking and marketing
Often, freelancers take up an enormous volume of work and pour hours into it. When the work gets completed, they find themselves in a dry spell! And then they spend days and weeks finding new work. The cycle goes on.
Successful freelancers avoid this situation by developing meaningful professional connections to get a steady stream of work. They devote an hour or more every day to networking activities- like sending emails, cold pitching, maintain social media presence, checking job boards, etc.
They also pay attention to how they market their services. Rather than presenting themselves as a jack-of-all-trade (‘I can write anything if you pay me!’), they highlight their specialisation. They are careful about how others perceive them.
4) They are clear on pricing
Most writers have to make do with low-paying projects when they are starting out. But unless you gradually increase your rates and improve your negotiation skills, you are headed for a burnout.
If you want to make a living as a full-time freelancer, without losing your sanity, you have to stop working for pennies. Spend some time and figure out the right price for your services. Learn what other successful freelancers charge for their work. Figure out how you can bundle your services and justify your prices.
Also, don’t cave into undue pressure from every client you meet. Explain your prospective client the time and effort you will put in to deliver desirable results. Value your work, and be firm about your prices.
5) They are constant learners
Successful freelance writers are always eager to learn new skills. They recognize learning as a part and parcel of their professional lives. They don’t feel ashamed when they don’t know anything. Rather, they are happy to accept it and adapt to the challenges of a new assignment.
If you want to work as a freelance writer, good writing skills are not enough. One must be ready to learn some new skills to thrive independently.
For instance, you will have to learn to write a contract for the times when clients don’t share it themselves. If you are not tech-savvy, you would have to get familiar with online tools like Grammarly, Paypal, Asana, etc. that most writers and clients use for their work.
You also have to stay updated with the latest trends in your niche. And you must be ready to read and research a lot for certain projects that would edge you out of your comfort zone.
People see freelancing as an easy way out, and social media has further cemented the myth. It is true that freelancing offers a lot of flexibility. But that does not substitute the need for discipline and dedication.
If you want to get ahead of the curve, think of yourself as a one-person business rather than a ‘writer’. That would give you an idea of how to work towards long term success.
Stick to your short-term objectives, but keep your eyes on bigger goals. And work with consistency and patience in order to flourish and slay as a freelancer.