Are You Determined Enough to be a Freelance Writer?

“Talent and hard work are more valuable than fancy degrees in the web writing world.”

I have a fancy degree, and I have been reading, Write for the Web! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing on the Internet. This e-book was created by the men behind Men With Pens. They wanted me to take a look at it and give them my thoughts. I tend to multi-task, so I thought I would use this as an opportunity to do some active reading with you, my enthusiastic and attractive audience. (Don’t worry James, I won’t reveal the surprise ending)

One of the first issues they cover in the book is “Am I Good Enough?” This is an excellent question, one that I have been asked a few dozen times by prospective writers over the years. The answer, one MWP comes up with as well, is yes AND no. Chances are, if you are interested enough in writing to be coming to my site, you have the writing skill and passion to at least potentially make a living as a writer on the Internet. If you can write with some enthusiasm and readability about a variety of subjects, then you have a chance to make a living as a writer on the web. That said, most people will never make a living writing for the Internet.

This is for a variety of reasons. Writing talent is important, but it takes more than that to make a living. MWP lists several of the things you need besides writing talent:

  • Customer service
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Negotiation
  • Time management
  • Accounting

They also discuss some of the more intangible qualities you need. To me the intangible comes down to a single word.

Determination

It doesn’t take determination to go to a job every day, even one you hate. You simply show up. Whether you’re effective or not, you stick around until its time to go home. It may not be pleasant. You may desperately want to quit (and become a freelance writer), but leaving is what requires determination, not staying.

Determination to succeed as a freelance writer means:

  • Finding work when you don’t have any
  • Promoting yourself even if you’re shy
  • Writing when you don’t feel inspired or energetic
  • Staying productive despite a hundred minor distractions
  • Completing assignments on time even when you have a good excuse not to
  • Taking assignments that aren’t interesting
  • Finding ways to improve as a writer
  • Learning, learning, learning

What it all boils down to is that succeeding as a writer means working hard — constantly. Most people have trouble doing that, especially when there isn’t a boss keeping an eye on them.

12 thoughts on “Are You Determined Enough to be a Freelance Writer?

  1. @ FW

    I understand the dilemma. Steady income is the key reason to keep a job. You know the check is coming. That can be a big comfort, and it isn’t one to be given up lightly.

  2. You are absolutely right, it takes determination to leave a job — not to stay. I’ve been telling myself for months now that I will quit my day job and focus full-time as a freelancer, but every time I want to take the leap of faith, somehting (financial) in my life happens which makes me rely on the consistent pay from the day job. Even right now, I am going through a slow patch where I am not finding any work or quality leads. This inconsistency makes it hard for me to just jump and quit my day job, until I get a handle on the business and build a following or stack of resourceful leads then I will have to stick it out at my day job as much as I hate it. If I were determined enough then I guess I would have been quit.

  3. Great advice! Even at my fulltime job, I am constantly drumming up business, so to speak. I am a copywriter and find that reaching out to the clients for work makes for a busier work day. I also take about an hour each morning before work to scout all of the freelance opportunities that I can find. I reply to at least five requests for work per day. Sometimes it’s lucrative, sometimes not. The key is determination and believing in yourself, even when the odds are against you.

  4. Now that’s true. I suppose I take determination too much for granted, because since we wrote the ebook, we’ve seen so many people give up that it isn’t funny. Well said.

    I really enjoyed this post, John. It’s so well written, you’d think you were a professional writer or something.

    James -Men with Penss last blog post..Capture the Fantasy and Escape your Reality

  5. @Kris — you’re right on target! That’s what I did before I left the day job for the full-time writing life. I would’ve been scared to do that five years ago, but not by the time I actually did it. It’s all in the preparation and determination. Plus, you have to be motivated and not a procrastinator. No one is going to push you to do things — only angry clients and editors who expected you to get it done without pushing.

    @John and James — I agree with the list of things you need besides writing talent. All those things ARE your job as a freelance writer. If you neglect them and only do writing — well, enjoy writing for yourself and not making money.

    Meryl K. Evanss last blog post..Twitter Barely Flitters

  6. @ Kris I do believe that if you get the marketing aspect down, half your battle is one. The ability to bring in business makes up for a variety of sins.

    @ Allena Tenacity is a good word too. Most people give up either through adversity, or just because there are other things they want to do.

    @ James True enough James. I do spend a great deal of my time getting paid to write. Thats exactly what I wanted when I was a kid. I just had NO idea what writing I would be doing.

  7. @ Yuwands

    Finding and exploiting niches is an excellent skill. Thank you for the addition and congrats on the 60/20 gig.

  8. John one thing I’d add to the list of excellent traits already listed is “trend spotting.” As in, being able to ferret out niches that not many others are focusing on now and building your reputation in that.

    As you well know, I did this with SEO writing. A year ago, I could only tell you what the letters stood for. Now, clients refer to me as an “authority,” which always gives me a kick.

    Freelancing writing is competitive — we all know that. One way to lessen the competition is being able to recognize and capitalize on trends where one could make their mark. And, the web has made researching these types of opportunities so much easier than it used to be.

    Yuwanda

    Yuwanda Blacks last blog post..The $60 Guest Posting Gig that Took 20 Minutes

  9. I’ve been visiting this site for a long time and reading the different articles. But this one has been the most helpful so far. I, too, am stuck in a day job that I don’t like. Its steady paycheck is the reason I stay. I’ve been doing some freelance work on the side for a long time. But it doesn’t pay.

    I’m also convinced, after reading the comments of others, to check out the freelance leads daily and act on some of them.

    Can I ask if you post an article of pitching your work?

    Thank you very much for this site. I love it.

  10. I was lucky enough to not have a job to leave when I became a freelance writer. I was a housewife and a mum when I became a writer. I too have a fancy degree, so I decided to put it to good use.

    Now, I am three things – A wife, a mother and a writer.

    Since starting writing, I am now the main earner in the house.

    Determination, dedication and an intense passion for writing are all great starting points!

  11. Writing should be an interesting and mind searching work if one is dertermine. You are quite right about your statement. I hope my dertermination will grow to action in the proper perspective.

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