Top Qualities and Characteristics of Successful Freelance Writers

I have an ever present kitty computer helper for large stretches of my freelance writing time.
I have an ever present kitty computer helper for large stretches of my freelance writing time. | Source

Before you pursue a freelance career, it is important to consider whether it will be a good fit for you. From writing to illustrating to teaching music lessons, there are a number of qualities and characteristics that are key for freelancing. In order to be successful, you must be honest with yourself about the following elements of it.

Do you have what it takes to be a successful freelance writer?

 
Top Qualities
 
Takes initiative
Disciplined
Self-confident
Flexible
Loner
Persistent
 
Strong communication skills
 

Takes initiative

No one holds your hand in the world of freelance. If you are lucky, you'll have a mentor and/or you'll make some connections early in your career that will bring about immediate leads. Most people build their entire freelance careers from scratch. Writing is no exception. It up to you to decide what type of writing you would like to pursue and then figure out how to break into it. Once you do have a steady career going, you must continue to take initiative to find more work as needed.

As a freelance writer, I juggle multiple deadlines on multiple writing sites as well as a wide range of other tasks every single day.
As a freelance writer, I juggle multiple deadlines on multiple writing sites as well as a wide range of other tasks every single day. | Source

Disciplined

One of the best and worst aspects of a freelance career is being your own boss. For some people, this prospect is a nightmare. For other people, it is a freedom that allows them to be more productive than they were able to be in previous job positions. However, freelancing takes a lot of discipline. With no one overseeing your day to day schedule, it is up to you to create a routine that works for you and stick with it.

Self-confident

Self-confidence may not seem like the most obvious quality of freelance work. However, it requires constantly defending what you do. Many people do not understand why anyone would choose to build a career from scratch and set a personal schedule in lieu of getting an office job. Some people falsely believe that it primarily involves sitting around at home watching TV while in reality it often involves putting in more hours than a typical 9-5 job requires. If you are not confident about your decision and your potential to succeed, it will not take long for you to doubt the road that you have chosen.

Flexible

When you accept any type of freelance writing job for a client, you must be prepared to do everything that it takes to meet their needs and preferences. If they have specific requests of any kind (i.e. article formatting, resources to use for research), it is best practice to stick with them. You must also be prepared to make revisions as needed. Revisions are inevitable in the world of freelance writing, even for the best writers. Do not take them as a bad thing. Simple make the changes that are needed and move onto the next job.

3 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Strong communication skills

As a freelancer, you are your own boss. You must be able to communicate effectively with clients in order to keep them around. Whether this involves phone or email conversations, you must be able to express yourself accurately and appropriately. Be aware of the tone and style that you use and cater it to specific clients accordingly. For example, some clients may take a more formal approach with their writers while others have a casual approach.

My husband works outside of the home, which means that I spend a lot of time on my own with our cats during the day.
My husband works outside of the home, which means that I spend a lot of time on my own with our cats during the day. | Source

Loner

Similar to the discipline aspect of freelancing, one of the best and worst aspects of many types of freelance work, including writing, is largely working by yourself. While it can be wonderful to enjoy a hot meal for lunch in the comfort of your own kitchen and choose the music that you listen to all day, it can also get lonely being on your own for hours during the day. You must be realistic about whether or not this is a lifestyle that works for you. Even if you do prefer to work alone, it is important to seek out opportunities to get out and interact with others during the week, such as a book club or volleyball league.

Persistent

It can take months and even years to build a lucrative full-time freelance career. This process requires a high level of persistence and dedication. Even when you do have full-time work, you never know when a project will end. You can be back to square one in a startlingly short amount of time through no fault of you own because this is simply the nature of freelance work. You have to be able to pick up the pieces and keep going, trusting that there are more great jobs out there for you.

I have enjoyed freelance writing during this time in my life because it has allowed me to see my family a lot more than I would have if I worked outside of the home.
I have enjoyed freelance writing during this time in my life because it has allowed me to see my family a lot more than I would have if I worked outside of the home. | Source

© 2013 Rose Clearfield

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Comments 33 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

It does take so much. Don't think I have it. I just like to relax with mine here and do what I want to when I want to. As you can probably tell I don't write for pay. lol

Great tips! ^


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

You're right that it does take so much, Jackie! It's great that people can use HubPages as a relaxing outlet or as part of a larger writing career. Thanks!


Sehnonimo profile image

Sehnonimo 2 years ago from San Bruno, CA

Excellent points! I own my own pet sitting business, and while most of these points are the same for anyone starting their own business, some points, like communication, is exorbitantly important in freelancing - something I'm still trying to get the hang of. And of course, freelance writing is a monster of it's own!

Thanks for the article! Happy Writing!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Sehnomino! You're right that many of these points are applicable for anyone starting a business. Best of luck to you!


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 2 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

All it needs is dedication and a darn PC or laptop, the same as a person who writes hubs! Great hub! Glad we have an awesome button here! :)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Dedication and a computer are a great start for freelance writing! Thanks, Cheeky Girl. :)


carter06 profile image

carter06 2 years ago from Cronulla NSW

You've really highlighted the necessary qualities succinctly here Random..agree with them all but think persistence is the key.. cheers


srsddn profile image

srsddn 2 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

randomcreative, I don't know how many these I have, but I think combination of a few will make one successful. Ultimately, persistence is the one which will make you to reach the goal. Thanks for sharing.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Thank you for sharing your insights so frankly. Now I'm trying to answer do I have what it takes. Voted Up!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

This is really great advice. I am still working on the "flexible" thing, but other than that, I am all set. :-)


April Garner profile image

April Garner 2 years ago from Austin, Texas

This is a lot of helpful advice. Reading it made me feel more confident I can make a career out of writing. Thanks for such an articulate, well-organized article!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Awesome hub with great advice. I voted up and more, including funny for that cute lead photo. You've got a great editorial consultant there.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore

Good suggestions and well explained


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Great tips! I find that setting work hours and sticking to them is a challenge with all the distractions at home--cats, dog, TV, food, snacks . . . . :-) I've just been focusing on getting through teaching right now. Maybe I'll take the initiative soon to get back to some writing. Great hub! Sharing!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

It's taken me about 3 years to finally hit a point where I can say I'm making money. It still isn't as much as I'd like but I am persistent, and I don't mind being alone at all.

Great tips here and I'm sure that many people will find your article very helpful. Pinning to a board I have on Pinterst called Help for Online Writers.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

I don't have the time to dedicate to writing like I was ~ and I miss it. But it is really difficult to discipline yourself to be successful. Being in the Apprentice Program did help me see that I could possibly do it. In the meantime, I am quite busy outside of the home. But, at this moment, I am at my home desk and my cat Punkin will not leave me alone. She isn't helping though other than roughing up all my papers. I love seeing photos of your little helpers!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

carter and srsddn, you're right about persistence. No one really wants to hear that you have to do a lot of writing and stick with it for months on end to make money, but that's the reality.

Thanks, MsDora, Jeannie, and April! Best of luck to all of you. :)

FlourishAnyway, "editorial consultant" made my day!

Thanks, MG Singh!

Thanks, Vicki! My biggest challenge is fitting my schedule around my husband's. I have a hard time getting as much done when he's at home for a good part of the day.

Just Ask Susan, I'm two and a half years into this venture, and I'm still not making as much as I would like either. I'm sticking with it as well, and I'm with you on being alone. Freelance writing isn't a dream job for me, but I love the lifestyle. Thanks for the pin!

Sharon, I haven't been able to devote the time that I'd like to passive income and personal writing pursuits the past few months, and it's been tough. I'm hoping to get back into that routine this winter. Keeping the Apprenticeship pace is really tough, but ultimately if you're churning out quality articles, it does lead to success. I'm glad that you enjoyed the "helper" pictures. Sometimes they are more helpful than other times. Good thing they're cute. :)


Susan Recipes profile image

Susan Recipes 2 years ago from India

Very useful and informative hub. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks so much, Susan!


Rae Saylor profile image

Rae Saylor 2 years ago from Australia

You nailed it! Thanks for writing this hub, pal. Voted up :)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Rae! So glad you enjoyed. :)


Marie Flint profile image

Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

My ideal freelance writing job is having one publisher who LOVES my work. Originally, I wanted to write and illustrate children's picture books, but my illustrative skills are a beginner's level. (Maybe next lifetime?)

Hub Pages does provide a creative outline, and that's why I like it here. Some money would be nice, but in my years of dabbling with the writing craft, money doesn't appear to be on the horizon.

This hub is very helpful for those who wish to pursue writing on what I perceive as an administrative assistant focus, that is, catering to a vast number of clients who essentially have difficulty putting their ideas into words. From this perspective, the article is very, very useful. I voted it as such.

Thank you.


mbwalz profile image

mbwalz 2 years ago from Maine

Great article. Freelance writing is hard. I think I lack the self confidence and discipline. But reading these kinds of articles reminds me of what I need to work on. :) Thank you! up and shared.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Marie, having a contract with a publisher to write and illustrate a certain number of books on a set schedule isn't the same as freelance writing. "Administrative assistant" isn't a fair way to describe the writing work that a lot of clients need. There are any number of different reasons that people seek written content for blogs and websites, and people who have provide high quality pieces for them offer a valuable service. It's very clear that this article is not aimed at casual writers who use HubPages strictly as a creative outlet.

mbwalz, thanks! You're right that freelance writing is hard. Most people have to navigate it on their own without a lot of assistance. I'm glad that this article is helpful for you. Best of luck! :)


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

Ye you have to be very disciplined in this lone of work!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Yes, for sure!


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

Great hub! This is surely of great help for me to think if I have those qualities and characteristics. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Thelma! That's great. Take care. :)


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA

Too bad I didn't read this article before I signed on, then again, maybe I would have ignored any of the down sides. I think in the end it is the passion that keeps us going against many odds, whether it be for writing or any other pursuit. My problem is that I have too many passions. This article lays out the qualities and characteristics very well!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

I agree that passion does keep many people going, regardless of the pursuit. I also have a large number of passions, which makes it hard to maintain focus. I'm envious of people who are driven to put all of their effort into one or two main pursuits.


dearabbysmom profile image

dearabbysmom 2 years ago from Indiana

Loner...so true! Working in one's jammies without anyone around to provide conversation or feedback can get old. Then again, that scenario seems heavenly when a blizzard is raging outside...


mbwalz profile image

mbwalz 2 years ago from Maine

randomcreative - I have that same problem. Sometimes I think I have the attention span of a ....SQUIRREL!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

dearabbysmom, I know what you mean. Working at home has both advantages and disadvantages.

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