3 Keys to Being a Successful, Paid Freelance Writer

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
-Ernest Hemingway

Jumping into freelance writing can be intimidating, whether you're switching to a different writing format or starting to write after having worked in an unrelated field. When you read the works of other great content writers, copywriters or journalists, you may feel like you'll never succeed. But you will. And it's really pretty simple. You need three key skills to have clients return to you over and over again.

1. Be a good writer. Note that I said good. You don't have to be the best. You don't have to have decades of experience. You just have to be good at the format you're trying to get paid to write. That may be blogging, copywriting, long-form articles, white papers, infographics, and on and on.

Try not to get intimidated by people who have been doing this longer or who have mastered their craft. Your writing will improve as you go, and you will get paid as you learn. If your writing style needs improvement or your articles are getting rejected, it's time to get help. Take courses online, at community college or try a writing coach to help you learn your weaknesses and improve.

2. Take criticism. When you're getting paid to write, you're often working for a company or publication that has a defined style and tone in mind. Refusing to make their edits or adopt their style will have your articles killed instantly, and you won't be called back. Editors like working with people who take their inputs and who learn from their mistakes. If you're lucky enough to work with great editors, your writing will drastically improve as you go. 

3. Be on time. Meet your deadlines. Always. And if you can't, communicate that as much in advance as you can. Editors understand that personal things come up or interviewees are hard to reach. They will work with you to adjust deadlines. However, if you just let a deadline slide, you can forget getting repeat work. If you consistently ask for extensions, you'll also probably lose that client. Clients will refer you if you're reliable and will come to you first when they have extra work.

So that's the secret to getting paid well from writing. As your skills grow and your reputation for being easy to work with and on time spreads, you'll find that you'll need to market yourself less and less.