10 Questions That Reveal Your Chances of Freelance Writing Success

Carol Tice

10 Questions That Reveal Your Chances of Freelance Writing Success. Makealivingwriting.comEarlier this week, I had a new freelance writer ask me how much writers earn and how long it takes them to start earning. Unfortunately, industry averages don’t tell you anything about how you will do as a freelancer.

But I mentioned that in my experience mentoring freelance writers, I’ve discovered there are some basic factors that are strong predictors of freelance-writing success.

What are your odds of earning big? Take this quiz and find out:

My 10-point Freelance Writer’s Success Forecasting Quiz

Rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 for each of these points.

  1. Motivation. Successful freelance writers are internally motivated to work on their business. How driven are you to make a success of your freelance writing career? For instance, do you find yourself blowing off TV because you want to work on your freelance goals, and that it’s easy to psych up for marketing your writing?
    1=I’m not driven
    2=I kinda maybe want it a little
    3=Yeah, I want it
    4=I really want to make this to happen. Not kidding.
    5=I’m all fired up
  2. Available time. How much time do you have to devote to launching your freelance writing career?
    1=Only an hour or two a week
    2=I could stop watching TV and gain 8 hours right there
    3=I’ve got 10-15 hours I could free up
    4=I could do it at least half-time
    5=I can go at it full time
  3. Self-confidence. How confident are you in your abilities as a writer? How do you feel about putting yourself out there and marketing your writing?
    1=I’m very insecure
    2=Not exactly bursting with self-confidence here
    3=I’m not totally down on myself
    4=I think I’m OK
    5=Damn, I’m good
  4. Flexibility. Are you willing to explore any and all types of writing that might pay the bills, or are you only willing to pursue a specific type such as writing for national consumer magazines?
    1=I just want to do one kind of writing — and it’s on my own blog
    2=I could maybe blog for other people, too
    3=I could probably write blogs and articles
    4=I could see mixing in some copywriting or tech writing if it paid better
    5=I’m totally open to exploring whatever writing opportunities might pay the bills
  5. Other options. Do you have other means of putting food on the table — a career you could resume, or a spouse earning a decent income?
    1=independently wealthy
    2=spouse makes enough to cover our bills
    3=I have a day job now so I could just keep it
    4=I could maybe work part-time on the side
    5=no other way to feed the family — I totally have to make this happen!
  6. Fianancial resources. Do you have the money to invest a little in the tools and learning you might need to succeed in freelance writing?
    1=I am basically out of cash
    2=If Demand Studios paid a day late I’d be out on the street
    3=I’m just scraping by
    4=I’ve got a little extra cash to put into this
    5=Money is no object
  7. Positive feedback. Are you someone who always got A’s in creative writing or English? Have you won writing contests, or had others praise your work?
    1=No strokes yet
    2=I got good grades in writing
    3=There was that one writing contest I won
    4=I’ve had more than one person tell me I should write professionally
    5=I’ve won me some awards
  8. Education. Have you ever studied English, journalism, creative writing, copywriting, or marketing?
    1=no education in this area
    2=I took a writing class once in college
    3=I got a university extension certificate
    4=I earned an A.A. degree
    5=I have a B.A. degree or higher
  9. Pro writing experience. Have you ever written for pay before, either as a freelancer or staffer?
    1=I have no previous clips
    2=I’ve written for mills only
    3=I’ve got a couple of clips
    4=I have a small portfolio of clips from a few different markets
    5=I’m an experienced, paid writer
  10. Business experience. Have you ever had your own home-based business before, or helped manage a business for someone else?
    1=No previous business experience
    2=I’ve sold Girl Scout Cookies
    3=I’ve helped manage a company before
    4=I had another successful home-based business in the past
    5=Serial entrepreneur


1-20 points — There are some serious obstacles to your getting a good-paying freelance writing career going, especially in the short term.

21-34 points — You have some assets as a freelancer, but there are some potential roadblocks here, too. You will probably need some time to gradually build your income.

35-50 points — You’ve got a lot going for you as a freelance writer. You ought to be able to ramp up your earnings fairly quickly.

Are there other traits that are essential to freelance-writing success? Tell us your theory on what it takes to make it.


  1. Dee

    Thank you Carol! I recently discovered your blog and I’m thrilled to have such a resource for the dazed and confused newbies! My day job pay was recently cut by half. I’ve been debating if I should take this opportunity to get my freelance career going, but I’ve had my doubts about whether I have what it takes to pull it off. This quiz was exactly what I needed. I answered modestly but still came in with a 42. And if marketing experience gets me a bonus then I’ve got it (that’s my day job). This has sincerely boosted my confidence by helping me to see what I have going for me, rather than dwelling on what I lack. Speaking of…I don’t have an abundance of writing samples. Do you have any advice on how to market your writing skills when you don’t have a lot of experience? Do you find that people are hesitant to hire a writer without an extensive portfolio?

    Thanks for what you are doing here!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Dee — you found an oldie-but-goodie post here!

      You definitely get extra points for past marketing experience. 😉

      Remember that every writer working once had no clips. So that means some markets are willing to take a chance on you. Your marketing background should help you convince clients that you can do the job.

      Inside my Freelance Writers Den community, I have a 4-week bootcamp called The Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success. It goes blow-by-blow on how exactly you can start from no clips, build your portfolio quickly, and start getting paying gigs. If you’re interested in the Den click that link — sign up on the waiting list if we’re not currently open. I often only tell that list when we open to new members.


  1. Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Game Writer? « Writing Portfolio of Courtney Keene - [...] post is inspired by the wonderful Carol Tice at Make A Living Writing. The original has 10 great questions…

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...