If you want to have a career as a freelance writer, you need to view it as a business.
Freelance writing involves making sales. Being a salesperson means risking rejection.
There will always be better writers than you, and there will always be writers who are worse than you but make more money. Concentrate on your own career.
Create an environment that you can work comfortably in. Consider anything that makes it easier to accomplish your job to be an investment.
If you need privacy to work, find a way to get it. There are plenty of portable tools for writers (laptops, PDAs, notebooks, pencils) so go where you need to go and leave the phone behind if you have to.
Create a writing schedule that works for you and stick to it.
Learn how to write a good query letter. It is an important sales tool.
Learn how to properly format your submissions and do it every time, even for clients you have worked with before. Always write a professional cover letter to go with your submission.
Don’t promise work you can’t deliver. Don’t make agreements you can’t follow and always follow the agreements that you make.
Take the time to research and understand the publishing industry and every market you plan to pursue.
Don’t waste research. If you need to learn about a topic for one project, look for ways you can use that information for other projects.
Don’t send identical queries to different markets. Always take the time to rework your query or submission so that it is customized for each market.
Always wait for the check to clear before you spend the money.
Even when you have plenty of work, take the time to market your services. Never let a week go by without spending some time on promotion and sales.
Create a network of writing and freelancing friends with whom you can share advice, leads, sympathy and work.
Once you establish success with a client, don’t be afraid to negotiate a better deal for your next project. They may say no, but they may say yes.
Keep records of all of your submissions, transactions and clients.
Freelance writers have special tax needs. Take the time to research your tax liability and if you are getting a lot of work, consider using an accountant.
Keep cash reserves for the lean times. Good financial planning is a key to long-term success as a freelance writer.
Create a resume and a portfolio of your work. Send it out with each query to a new market.