Successful freelancers have good habits. This keeps them above the crowd. Here are some ways to succeed as a freelance writer.
Successful freelancers present well
To be a successful freelancer, you need to look like a professional. You may write in ripped jeans or pajamas, but your work should be immaculate. Your queries should be well-written, clean, and perfectly formatted. Your finished products (and anything else the client sees) should be of equally high quality. Every time the client deals with you, the client should know they are dealing with a professional who will deliver a professional product. Nothing you ever show the client should look rushed or casual.
Successful freelancers finish on time
Nothing is harder on the freelancer/customer relationship than missed deadlines. Do not commit to a deadline unless you are sure you can handle it. Once you do commit to a deadline, never let it slip. For the most part, this means working toward finishing all of your projects well ahead of schedule. If you agree to produce an article in three weeks, your goal should be to finish it in two. Do not leave tasks until the last minute. If your work requires input from an editor, an expert, or a client, get that input as soon as you can. Don’t wait until the day before a deadline to ask your questions. By then you are already running the risk of failure.
Successful freelancers follow instructions
While it is true that you can give a customer exactly what they asked for and still not give them what they want, your best chance at success is to follow their instructions. When a publication publishes submissions guidelines, read them and follow them. If an editor tells you how long they want your article to be, make it that long. When a customer gives you unclear instructions, ask for clarification. Make sure you know what is expected of you and do everything you can to meet those expectations.
Never stop marketing
At some point in your freelancing career, you may have assignments stacked up for months and so much work that you can’t possibly imagine looking for more customers. Even then, take at least some time out of your week to promote your services. You never know when the magazine that ordered five articles from you over the next five months might go out of business. You never know when a customer who promised you “a ton more work” as soon as you finish the current project might suddenly lose a contract or decide to hire a permanent employee to do the job.
The best way to prevent lulls in work is to always have more assignments coming. If you get so busy you can’t seem to handle all the assignments coming at you, there are always solutions. You can farm out some work to fellow freelancers or hire yourself an assistant to research articles, handle your accounting, or even do your laundry. The solutions to not having enough work are ALWAYS harder to find than the solutions to having too much work.
Know when to say no
Don’t be afraid to put an end to a situation that no longer works for you. You may have started off with a real passion for writing about travel. After a few years though, you might begin to think that your own bed is the only bed you want to sleep in. You may have a client that never seems to pay their bills on time. You may have a client that pays well but is simply too hard to please.
These are the sort of stressors that can make freelancing seem less and less attractive. Before you give up on the whole concept of freelancing, ask yourself what you can change to make the situation better. Sometimes you have to let clients go, change your focus, or just take a vacation. If money becomes an issue, you might consider a part-time job while you review your options. Whatever the case, don’t let bad situations linger. Control your freelancing career, don’t let it control you.