The 20 Best Practical Tips for Freelance Writers

Carol Tice

The 20 Best Practical Tips for Freelance Writers. Makealivingwriting.comI knew you had something to share from your own freelance writer’s journey, when I asked you for your best advice last week.

But the number and quality of responses blew me away. It wasn’t easy to pick the winners!

As promised, below are my 20 favorite tips for freelance writers, contributed by readers here on the blog. They will each be getting a one-month free pass to The Freelance Writers Den, my soon-to-open, comfy hangout for freelance writers who want to grow their income.

These winners are listed in the order their comments were received —  no way I’m trying to rank them. I’ve linked to everyone who listed a website.

  1. Develop your craft and have a thick skin. It takes hard work and persistence to be successful. There’s no whining in freelance writing (or at least there shouldn’t be).–Wendy
  2. If you usually spend your days in your house, make time to go outside or find some sort of coworking space where you can interact with other people. You can’t network if you never leave your writing cave–Kymlee
  3. Learn to write proposals and expect to write them on a regular basis. Whether they are cold proposals to business owners, query letters to publishers, or responses to help wanted ads, well-crafted proposals will land you the more lucrative opportunities.–Tammi Kibler
  4. Building relationships with editors can’t be stressed enough. Don’t just reach out to them when you have a pitch. Try shooting an email whenever you hear of an interesting story that might intrigue them or a news tip that would help them at work.–Terri
  5. Listen to the client. REALLY listen. People have become interrupters to a startling degree. Real listening is rare. Let the client talk until they’re finished without interrupting.–Mardi Link
  6. Someone told me at a conference last  year: “EN — everything’s negotiable.” You can negotiate the rate if you don’t think it will work out to a decent amount on an hourly basis. You can negotiate the deadline if you have too much on your plate already. You can negotiate rights if they ask you to sign a work for hire agreement. And if you’re not happy with what you’re offered after negotiating, you can walk away.–Susan Johnston
  7. Build your own support network. As a freelancer, you don’t have an office full of people to keep you accountable, so create your own accountability.–Alissa
  8. Build in extra time to let your writing “marinate.” Give yourself at least a day inbetween writing and editing.–Megan
  9. Make a writing plan for the week on Sunday and then you have a daily task list to follow for success everyday.–Terri Forehand
  10. If you want to become a full-time freelancer…then just do it. There is no greater motivation for success than having no other choice.–Erin Hill
  11. Trust yourself. I believe each one knows, deep down, what’s right for them…and how to stretch. So trust yourself and go for it.–Anne Wayman
  12. Don’t apply for every single job and pitch every publication out there. You’ll waste your time and energy on opportunities that don’t fit.–Brandi
  13. Never stop learning. I set aside time every month to find a new site to subscribe to.–Karen
  14. Be brave. You are the only thing you can control. Really. So focus on what you can do, what you need to do, to move yourself forward.–Kar
  15. Never never NEVER give up. People will secretly want you to. They will sound concerned for your welfare. Smile politely and carry on.–Cate Morgan
  16. Before you begin a project, get it in writing.–Candace Schuler
  17. Care for yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will. It’s impossible to be a successful writer without your health.–Judy
  18. My favorite tip is hanging over my project board by my desk: It is NOT personal! It is very hard sometimes when an article, idea, proposal or query is turned down. We just need to remember that those are not personal attacks on us.–Melody
  19. I’ve learned to focus on writing about topics that I’m passionate about, or at the very least interested in. There’s nothing worse than trying to bang out a story you care nothing about, even though the publication might pay decently.–Sondi
  20. Don’t waste time on assignments that pay practically nothing and that strangle the soul. I was sure I couldn’t survive without my income from content mills, but the truth is when I stopped writing for the mills, I had more time to seek out better-paying assignments. My income hasn’t suffered at all, and my confidence in myself as a writer has improved 100%.–Debra Stang

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24 Comments

  1. Gerry

    Great writing tips and I would add another one i.e. stick to a plan or strategy or methodology when writing. Whether you are a full-time writer or newbie freelancer, you need to learn how to structure your writing thoughts in order to deliver a quality product. By having a methodology that is not too rigid and does make allowance for flexibility, you can become a sought after writer in no time.

  2. Alise Ramey

    What a great list! They are all very true, but #1 is my favourite. It can be tough at times to have a thick skin and be persistent but in the long run it should be worth it.

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