The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Freelancers

Anyone can say that they’ll become a writer, especially with today’s huge freelance market. But there are only a few who can actually do it. These people generally share ten habits. If you are trying to become a freelance writer and it’s not panning out the way you imagined, try building a few of these habits.

Habit One: They Write Every Day

A good working freelancer writes regularly, as often as they can. This shouldn’t surprise you. It’s the difference between those who imagine themselves as freelance writers those who actually do it for a living. Successful freelance writers write every single day, whether they are working for a paid client or not. If a successful writer has no work for a client, they’ll be writing something else that furthers their career. This might be a blog update, a refresher for their website content, or promotional materials for their services.

Habit Two: They Know the Market

A good freelancer studies his markets and clients. He learns about a publication before he pitches a piece to them. This means learning their style guidelines and researching their back issues to see what types of articles they tend to choose. Taking the time to learn a publication before you pitch will go a long way in getting a piece published over just shotgunning a generic article out to lots of potential clients.

Habit Three: They Write Good Professional Letters, Too

A good freelance writer doesn’t just know how to write content. If you’re going to be successful, you also have to be able to write cover letters, query letters, and book proposals. A query letter should be written to sound similar to the style of the proposed pitch, and needs to grab an editor right from the start. Without a good query letter, no one will ever look at your pieces, and if no one reads them, they will never get published.

Habit Four: They Know About Specific Markets

A successful freelancer knows how to tailor his work to a specific market. A piece being written for a senior living publication won’t have the same tone (or topic!) as one for Teen People. Knowing how to create pieces that will appeal to different publications is key to diversifying your published portfolio.

Habit Five: They Work on Finding Work

A successful writer knows where and how to find the best work. You can’t just sit around waiting for quality writing jobs to land in your lap. You have to know where the best jobs are posted on online boards. You should also consider subscribing to e-zines and email newsletters that publish lists of freelance writing openings. In addition, good writers develop a relationship with the clients so that they are recalled for future assignments.

Habit Six: They Develop a Marketing Plan

The best freelance writers plan out their marketing strategy for their services. Creating a brand for your work and marketing that to potential clients is just as crucial as the actual work. Without a marketing plan, you’ll never make contact with the most lucrative clients.

Habit Seven: They Network

Successful freelance writers have networks of contact, both clients and other writers, who can help with promoting a writer, his work, and his services. These networks should be national or even international. Once a connection is made, it’s important to maintain contact in order to create a useful network. Otherwise a contact just becomes a name you once knew.

Habit Eight: They Have a Goal

A working freelancer has a focus for the writing he does and his career. He knows where he want his writing to take him. This means you don’t waste your time on articles that don’t pay well, don’t improve your skills, and don’t take your career anywhere. Instead, focus your time on more lucrative clients and on projects that pay properly for your time and skills.

Habit Nine: They Plan Ahead

A good writer has to stay focused on his work, and not get pulled away by distractions. To do this, he has a plan for his working day. You should start each working day with a goal for what you want to accomplish and a plan for how to get there. Otherwise you can spend your whole day working at nothing.

Habit Ten: They Sell Their Knowledge

Successful writers have also created their own products on freelance writing, which they promote both personally and through others in their network. In order to get to the top of the freelance writing game, they had to learn a lot about the subject. They take that knowledge and create articles, websites, and e-books about writing. These items can add supplemental income for the successful writer.

Build up these habits in yourself and you’ll soon be successful too.


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