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Top 10 Reasons You Won't Succeed as a Freelance Writer

Updated on June 9, 2016
Michelle Bentley profile image

I've been a freelance writer for over 20 years. I enjoy writing about anything from non-fiction self-help to fiction thrillers and mysteries

Becoming a successful Freelance Writer is, no doubt, a difficult achievement. Very few succeed, others give up. Are you cut out to succeed as a writer? Take a look at the top 10 reasons why you won’t succeed as a freelance writer. If any of the reasons fit your profile, please take notice and do what you can to change it.

10. You Don't Have Talent

Many people (writers and authors, alike) believe that writing can be taught. That it’s not so much talent as it is education. I disagree. In as much as I would have loved to be a famous singer, I know that I can’t carry a tune to save my life. Not only that, but my voice itself is not pleasant sounding and all the singing lessons in the world could never change that. The same holds true to writing. You either have the talent or you don't. However, a weak writer can always learn to write stronger. by taking courses, participating in writing workshops, and simply writing every day. The more you write, the better your writing will get. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my singing.

9. You're Unsociable

Okay, so you have a ton of friends. Good for you. But if you’re not utilizing social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Google+, then you’re not maxing your potential for success. In today's world it is imperative for any business (and freelance writing is a business) to have an online presence.

8. You Don't Have a Website

To be a successful writer you must have a place for potential clients or book buyers to go. Since nobody has ever heard of you (okay, maybe a few people have) they will want to know more about you. If you don't have a professional website nobody will be able to find you and see what a wonderful writer you are.

7. You're Lazy

Lazy is not a nice word. Most people prefer to call it procrastination. But a rose is a rose. There are days when it can be really tough to get motivated, but lazy people (or procrastinators) are rarely successful.

6. You're Scared

Success can be a scarey thing. How will you handle it? What will you do with it? Or maybe the fear lies in not believing you're good enough. Whatever the reason, fear hinders success.

5. You're Thin-Skinned

As in any art form, some will love it and some will hate it. If you’re thin-skinned and can’t accept rejection or criticism you may need to rethink your desire to be successful .As the old saying goes: If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

4. You're a Mess

Being organized is imperative to success. No, I don’t mean that your desk should be neat as a pin (some work better in a mess). But if you’re starting several projects before finishing even one then you need to organize and prioritize. If you have five unfinished projects. yet you are working on a new one, there's a problem.

3. You Don't Read

Writers need to read. If you're not reading then you're not learning. If you're not learning, you're not growing. One must grow into success. It rarely happens overnight.

2. You are Your Own Worst Enemy

Although it’s great that you want your writing piece to be perfect there is such a thing as being too critical. I don’t think any writer is ever 100% sastisfied with their finished work. There’s always going to be a sentence, paragraph, or page that can be written better. If you're constantly re-writing you will never finish. There's no success in unfinished work.

,,,,,And the #1 reason for not succeeding as a freelance writer......

Drum Roll, please........

You Give Up Easily!

  1. Do you know that it took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries before he was successful with the light bulb? Or that Stephen King nearly gave up after his first novel, Carrie, was rejected by 30 publishers? Giving up is the #1 reason any person fails in any area of their life. If Edison had given up we might not have the lightbulb even today. If King had given up we would not have the wonderful opportunity to enjoy his great work such as Carrie, or The Shining or any of the other great novels he has written. Successful people never give up until they're six feet under.

How Do You Go From Failure to Success?

Take the above reasons for failure and use them to your advantage. Learn from your mistakes. Try everyday, no matter what, and let success find you. Here are some tips to overcome the failures and reach for success.

Get Help With Your Writing

If you have writing talent then learn everything you can about writing. Go to the library, research online. Find free resources for writers. Enroll in some writing classes. Hone your craft and be the best you can be. Good writing is practiced and gets better with time and each written page.

Engage in Social Media

If you don’t already have accounts with all the popular social media sites, get one. Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.are great places to find like-minded people and to get your name out there as an author. Post great content, engage and share with other users, and before long you will have a growing list of followers. Followers and Friends turn into buyers. Don't SPAM - engage and contribute. Use all the social media sites, not just one or two. As your online presence grows so will your success.

Create a Website

If you haven’t yet, create an author or freelance writer website. There are plenty of low-cost website hosts and you can get your own domain for about $10. Godaddy is the one that I use, however, Wordpress is good and there are plenty of others. I would not suggest a free website since it looks unprofessional. If you need to know what an author website should look like (I'm still working on perfecting my own) visit other author websites. Look at what makes their website successful and tweak it to fit your own.

Stop Procrastinating

Just do it. When I feel that I’m having a lazy day it helps me to write a list of everything I want to accomplish for the day. I can’t help but feel the need to cross items off my list as the day goes by and it gets me in the competitive mind-frame. Once you get going (and that’s the hardest part) you won’t be able to stop until everything (or almost everything) on your list is checked. Once you get into the habit (it takes approximately three weeks to form a habit) to start writing every day you won't have to worry about laziness or procrastination creeping in.


Confront whatever fears you have and resolve to get past them. If you’re feeling insecure about your writing ability, and that’s what's making you scared, have a few good people read your work. This way you will be either pumped up with confidence or, at the very least, have a good idea of what you need to do to better. Always remember, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - Franklin D Roosevelt.

Toughen -up

Don’t take bad reviews and criticism too personally. There will always be lovers and there will be always be haters. Get used to it. Take each bad and good review with a grain of salt and as the opportunity to learn something.

Get Organized

Prioritize your writing projects by importance and don’t start on one until you’re finished with the first. Create a writing schedule and stick with it. If a writing idea pops in your mind while working on a project, jot the idea down and continue with your project until it's complete. The amount of success you feel after completing one writing project, whether it be a novel or an essay, is priceless.

Start Reading - A lot

Read every day. Read all types of genres. Your writer library should be filled with books that educate and books for enjoyment. Reading will help you write better and also will help generate ideas. Set a time aside each and every day, even if it's for only 30 minutes, for reading. The public library is free and they have thousands of books to choose from. There's never really a good excuse not to read. Reading can be done while waiting at the doctor's office, sitting in the passenger seat of a car, or anywhere. When you read you will be inspired to write.

Love Yourself

Don’t hate on yourself so much. You’re good and you know it! Three drafts is plenty. Anymore than that you’re just wasting time. Love yourself and love your writing. Don't be discouraged by reviews or by people. Write what you know and what you love. Write for yourself, not for others. Stop being so hard on yourself. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you too!

Keep On Keeping On

Don’t ever give up! No matter what it takes just keep writing, keep submitting, keep on keeping on and one day you will be a star! Success isn't always measured by the amount of money you make. Each writer has their own definition of what success means to them. Think of Thomas Edison or Stephen King when you're feeling like giving up and remind yourself that hardly anybody steps into success overnight.

What About You?

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

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wonderful hub, packed with great advice, Thanks for sharing.


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