The Pippi Longstocking Guide to Freelance Writing Success

Carol Tice

I recently had a chance to watch the original version of Pippi Longstocking with my daughter. I was fascinated to see how many helpful tips it held for freelance writers.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her yet, Pippi is a 9-year-old girl who lives alone in her ramshackle, wildly self-painted house, Villa Villekula. Her mother is dead and her father is a sailor who’s usually away at sea. Pippi manages to cheerfully deflect all efforts by well-meaning adults to send her to school or to an orphanage, in part due to her secret weapon: she has super-strength and can easily lift a horse over her head.

What can you learn from Pippi? Here are seven ideas:

  1. Don’t look for external strokes. Pippi is functionally an orphan. She’s all alone, with nobody to encourage her, but she is rarely sad. She doesn’t need others to tell her she’s wonderful — she just knows it. When writers don’t get an answer to a query, they need the same sort of positive self-image to keep going.
  2. Be brave. From entering a strongman contest to sailing off in a balloon, Pippi is never afraid. She’s out to experience everything the world has to offer. By the same token, writers willing to take difficult assignments often get clips that put their career on a whole new level.
  3. Let your imagination run wild. Pippi is not a conventional thinker. She paints her house a rainbow of colors. Some walls are left off half-painted, but that suits her fine. And obviously, to lift a horse, you first have to imagine that you can. Don’t have limits in your head around what you can accomplish as a writer — as a freelancer, the sky’s the limit.
  4. Let the housekeeping go. There’s all sorts of old clutter at Pippi’s house, and she wears mismatched, patched outfits. So what? She’s having fun. Most freelancers — especially ones who juggle writing with family — need to let go of the whole Martha Stewart thing.
  5. Make friends. Pippi is able to get out of several scrapes with the help of neighbor children and their parents. Writers who network with other writers tend to get more gigs — and can get the feedback that keeps you from taking bad offers, too.
  6. Discover your strengths. Everyone has unusual interests and areas where they excel. Find those within writing and you’ll probably find better pay. Then, push your writing to the limit and beyond. See what you can accomplish.
  7. You don’t need a boss. Social workers and neighbor ladies are aghast that Pippi has been left to manage on her own. But the fact is, she’s perfectly able to care for herself. She’s an unusual child that way — just as not everyone is cut out to be a freelancer. It may seem odd to those who’ve only ever held a job, but those of us who freelance successfully don’t need a boss standing over us to get things done.

How are you like Pippi Longstocking? Leave a comment and tell us your superpower.

Coming later this week: My Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers series continues. Subscribe to catch the whole series.


  1. Madeleine Kolb

    This is a real blast from the past. I used to read Pippi Longstocking books to my now-adult daughter. It was a phase she (or I) was going through–reading stories about females with amazing powers. There were the four-volumes of Mary Poppins, not the sugary Julie Andrews version, but an acerbic woman who didn’t take a lot of nonsense from those kids but opened up their quiet, respectable Victorian world.

    Excellent lessons learned also. Well done!

    • Linda

      Oh my…Pippi the Beloved! I fell in love with her (and the original Swedish movies) when my son was growing up. I need to be reminded of Pippi’s courage and brillance. Ingenious post Carol.

  2. Debra Stang

    When I read the title of this article, I knew I had to drop what I was doing and read the whole thing. When I was a kid, Pippi was one of my favorite characters in the world, second only to the Narnia gang. Somehow, I never thought about using her life philosophy in my writing. Thanks for the smile.

  3. Bonnie Story

    This is great!! Good thoughts and I know this piece will percolate around in my head for quite a while. Thank you!! Love your writing.

  4. Vanessa Nix Anthony

    Most days, working from home, my hair looks about as crazy as Pippi’s and my socks are mismatched to boot!

    • Carol Tice

      Yeah, me too — that’s why my Webinars are powerpoints and not video streaming!

  5. Ruth Zive

    I haven’t watched Pippi since I was a child, but I love your lessons! Indeed, she was fearless and creative and brave and positive. What a great role model for freelance writers and aspiring entrepreneurs in general.

  6. Stefanie

    “Don’t look for external strokes” is one of my favorite pieces of advice. While it may be comforting to receive a “Gold Star” or stamp of approval from someone else, you build true strength—the stuff that helps freelancers thrive—when you consistently produce your best work regardless of external opinions. You can’t wait for anyone else to give you that Gold Star. Pippi’s fearless, carefree, fun attitude is possible because she’s happy with what she’s doing.

  7. Angela

    Becoming a freelance writer is easy. However it does take time to groom and perfect your writing skills. I suggest you sign up to sites like Helium, which will pay you an upfront payment for some of your articles, as well as pageview payments. Helium also lets you write for publishers in the marketplace as well as take part in writing contests. At helium there is a very friendly forum where you can get writing tips. If you would like a mentor helium will also assign someone to help and guide you. There are many other higher paying writing sites such as constant content, brighhub, and love to know to name a few.The more articles you write the more you will be paid. In some of Helium marketplace titles payment is around 10 cents per word.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Angela —

      I’m going to guess you’re new here, because I advise writers to stay away from all those sites, as their pay will never add up to a living wage for most. There are much better ways to break into freelancing where you get clips editors will find credible. Brighthub is not an example of a “higher paying” market.

  8. Josh Sarz

    I haven’t seen her, or know anything about Pippi, but from how you’re describing her she sounds like a sweet little girl with a great imagination. Which is how writers should be, sweet little people with great imaginations.

    Have a great week ahead of you!

  9. Amandah

    I haven’t watch Pippi Longstocking in a long time. I’ll have to see if Netflix has it. Anyway … This is a great reminder for freelance writers to embrace their career choice regardless of what family and friends think.

    Pippi is a very colorful character in more ways than one! Great storytelling…

  10. LindaH

    I’ve got to admit I’ve never read Pippi Longstocking, but will go to the local library now and find her. She sounds fabulous. LOL… Your article was a good reminder of many things I once was like, but lost. And my reading this today was perfect timing having encountered people who don’t believe freelance writing or self-employment is even a worthwhile effort in today’s market. But as a freelancer and an offspring from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners it’s in my blood. As Amandah says, these are “great reminder for freelance writers to embrace their career choice regardless of what family and friends think.”

    • Carol Tice

      I don’t know who these people are who think freelancing isn’t worthwhile — but they’re not talking to the same employment-trend experts I am. They say outsourcing is here to stay and will only grow in the next decade. Those of us who learn to run freelance businesses now will benefit.

  11. Tonifalade

    Well i must say that i have not even seen Pippi before, but i would consider myself as more of a story teller. My strength lie in relaying events allegorically. I know i can be very creative and write way out of the box, but the fear is that, would any one just want a story teller or an event writer?

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