Freelancing. Can you cut it?

Being a freelancer can end up like a full-time career; and in order to be successful you must treat it that way. Ideas and relationships with editors and others in the business are the bread and butter of your success. Let’s face it, if you can’t sell your ideas then you can’t be successful. So do you have what it takes to be a successful freelancer? Can you cut it?

According to a recent study the average freelancer makes a little over $35, 000 a year. When you are just beginning, of course, it is more difficult to break into the business and get your name out there. You should be prepared to encounter quite a few setbacks, but the most important thing is to not be discouraged. Don’t let rejection get to you, because if you do, you might miss a golden opportunity. Although one editor might hate your work or your style of writing, another editor might be the complete opposite.  You’re bound to hear the word “no” about a dozen times before you hear that one  “yes.”

Like most jobs it is important to always stay organized when you’re a freelancer. Unlike being an accountant or working in an office, there’s no one there to pick up your slack or to organize you. The only thing that will happen is that clients won’t use you for a second time, which is bad for you and your career.  It’s quite easy to get off track, especially if you’re working at home. Dedicate a certain amount of time each day to spend on writing and doing career-oriented tasks. Get yourself into a routine that you can live by and try to schedule it at the same time everyday so that there will be no distractions. Make sure you write down all deadlines and meetings; document everything (especially contact information) in case you have to consult them down the road for future projects.

To be a good freelancer you must first of all know your market; know who you are pitching to and which publication(s) would potentially buy your stories. In the beginning, especially, you must be persistent. Editors are not always keen on taking on new writers but be ready to go the extra mile. More often than not, your work will speak for itself. Try going for small, or relatively new publications first, and then you may work your way up. That way you can get familiar with the protocols and you may even be able to collect more clippings to add to your portfolio.

Finding fresh story ideas are one of the biggest challenges. Try to start off by writing what you know. Think about some of the magazines, papers and other publications that you read.  Odds are that you are most likely an expert on some of those topics.  A story idea can come in the form of a mere thought of something that is lacking in your favorite read. If you cannot think of any new, creative story ideas then perhaps freelancing isn’t for you. Your fresh perspective is what is going to set you apart from others in the business.

Hopefully you have what it takes to be a freelancer but if you don’t feel that you are quite ready, keep working on perfecting your craft, because practice makes perfect.

Naomi Comrie is a freelancer who has written for publications such as Amoi and Essentials. Currently she is working on her book of combined writings.  Her popular motivational blog can be read every Monday at

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