Being a freelance writer is more than just being a freelance writer. You can’t just type away on a keyboard and cash in the pay cheque. It takes a lot of time, dedication and passion, which shouldn’t come to you as a surprise. After all, these are all requirements to succeed in anything.
However, there are some things that may definitely shock you when it comes to being a successful freelance writer. Over the almost-8-years of my career, I have discovered a lot. So instead of making my fellow aspiring freelance writers learn the hard way, I am going to give you a little inside look at “the extras” you need as a writer.
You Need a Sense of Humour
As a writer, you need a sense of humour for many reasons. For one, you aren’t always going to have pleasant clients. When you’re a freelance writer, some head honchos will never see you as a part of their team; you’re expendable and they could care less about the way they speak to you. You have to find a way to just shrug it off, do your work – and to high quality despite your personal bitter feelings, and carry on.
You’ll eventually get to a point where you can simply turn down nasty clients.
You Need to Know your Value
With that said, you also need to know your value. No one deserves to be talked to in a condescending, disrespectful way, regardless of how new you are to the industry or how awesome that new gig is. Learn to weigh the pros and cons to working for nasty clients. Typically, I’ll give every client a go, but if the experience leaves me feeling miserable, I will decline the “opportunity” to work with them in the future. There’s no amount of money that is worth being bullied online simply because you aren’t on a company’s payroll.
Again, You Need a Sense of Humour
Aside from mean clients, you’ll also have awesome clients that still have unrealistic feedback and/or requests. I once had a client ask me to write about native pottery, and when I wrote about native pottery, he asked, “Why did you write about this? I didn’t want you to write about this.” Despite showing him our chat logs and reminding him of the products he sold online (native pottery), he insisted he never told me to write about this topic. Sometimes, despite how frustrating it can be, you need to just laugh it off and carry on.
…And trust me, there will be many situations where this little rule comes into play. Fortunately, most clients are completely epic, but there’s always a rotten one in the crowd.
You Need Personality
To be fair, you yourself don’t have to have a personality, but your writing style certainly does. I can write “The fashion trends for fall are awesome!” Or, I can write “The fashion trends for the fall season are bad… And by bad, I mean totally badass!” In order to become a successful writer, you have to find something that makes your content unique and amazing. For me, it’s my ability to speak to the audience, instead of writing a blog for them to read. If you’re reading something I wrote, you feel like you’re engaged in a fabulous conversation right in front of me.
You Need to be Adaptable
With the prior said, you have to be able to adapt your style of writing. Even if you’re only writing lifestyle articles for the same target audience, you’ll have clients that want a different tone or that have a completely different brand image. For example, I can write about men’s clothing but I also have to adapt the way I write in order to suit the specific brand of clothing. The way I write for professionals buying suits is completely different from the way I speak (write) to, let’s say, a streetwear company.
So know your style of writing, but be willing to perfect the talent of changing it up as needed. I write everything from lifestyle articles, to vagina health, lawyer and medical blogs – you name it. And as you can imagine, the way I write about vagina health is quite different from what I produce for a lawyer.
You Need More Than a Desk and a Laptop
It may seem like all you need to become a writer is to set up shop with a laptop and desk, but that is so wrong. When you’re writing hundreds of articles a month, you’d be surprised how quickly your inspiration plateaus, or how often you get the dreadful “writer’s block” – it’s a popular term for a reason.
So you need an office, or even a desk that gives you some inspiration; something with a bit of personality, decor and little touches that make you feel good when you’re in the space. I like to use inspiration quotes and cute knick knacks to give my work space a spark of life, and I change them out regularly to suit my moods.
More importantly, you need to have passion. Being a freelance writer has plenty of benefits, but you’ll never reap them all if you’re simply writing for the wrong reasons. So love what you do, become great friends with your clients, and relish in this career that puts freedom in your hands.