Are You a Successful Freelance Writer? 6 Ways to Tell

Carol Tice

Happy writer writing down her ideasby Lorraine Reguly

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a successful freelance writer. I mean really, really imagine it.

What does that look like? And how do you know if you’re attaining it?

I like to look at six components of success to see how I’m doing: values, money, freedom, achievements and personal progress, statistics and sales, and social status.

1. Values

Values are our inner beliefs and qualities. Some core values of freelancers might include

  • ambition
  • approachability
  • bravery
  • discipline
  • efficiency
  • expertise
  • gratitude
  • integrity
  • originality
  • patience
  • perseverance
  • resiliency

If you possess and practice these, then you’re a step above the rest!

2. Money

Most of us are merely trying to pay the bills each month, put food on the table and maintain our independence. If we’re able to do these things, we deem ourselves successful. If we have money left over, that’s even better.

Earning more money from year to year is another way to measure financial success. Higher-paying assignments are something to continually strive toward. Working fewer hours for more pay is a great goal. This allows us to have more … freedom.

3. Freedom

For some freelancers, freedom is being able to work from home. For others, it means being able to travel to an exotic island or take regular vacations.

For me, it’s being able to do what I want, when I want. This includes sleeping, eating, showering and occasionally staying in my pajamas instead of getting dressed!

Do you have the freedom you want?

4. Achievements and personal progress

Freelancing success is an individual thing; no two people will have the same accomplishments or goals. Having an impressive résumé doesn’t dictate that happiness will follow.

To me, a true indicator of success is whether you are enjoying the journey of life. Although your path may be riddled with obstacles, overcoming them provides a sense of satisfaction that can be equated with success.

5. Statistics and sales

If you have a blog, you can measure your success by the number of readers, commenters, social shares, and daily hits you have. Here, bigger is better. The same principle applies to the sales of any products or services you offer.

6. Social status

Our social status is measured differently nowadays.

We live in an era where having an online presence on several social media sites is crucial. This can be time-consuming and not always fun, but it is necessary to gaining references, guest posts, links to our website and exposure to new people, including clients.

If you get asked for an interview, are featured on others’ blogs and become a recognizable name (and face), you’ve definitely attained some level of social status as a freelancer.

My favorite indicators of success, though, are referrals from clients and compliments on my writing — unsolicited testimonials are awesome!

How do you measure your success a freelance writer? Tell us in the comments below.

Lorraine Reguly is a certified high school English teacher-turned-freelance writer and editor who is blogging while she works on publishing two books. She relates her struggles and successes on her blog, Lorraine Reguly’s Life.

57 Comments

  1. Jeri

    The main thing I’ve realized about freelancing for my own purposes is that it’s very important for me to keep normal working hours. I get really grumpy when I’m at my computer after dinner or on the weekends. It can be hard to draw the line between home and work time when working from a home office.

    • Lorraine Reguly

      Jeri, thanks for your comment. I understand where you’re coming from, and there are a few things you can do to remedy that. Try “commuting” to your home office by talking a walk (around the block) before sitting down to work, try meditating before working, or try having a shower and donning a professional outfit for work. In addition to using a timer, these are some strategies that you could employ to assist you in separating your two lives and finding an appropriate work-life balance.

      Do you currently do any of these things now? Do they help?

  2. Peter Dean

    Hi Lorraine. Great article – naturally! I don’t always have the time to post replies, but very seldom miss an article – Sorry..time! I feel a bit of a fraud calling myself a writer as I write mainly for business, although (if I ever get it finished) there is a book in the pipeline and a couple of half finished fiction stories I am determined to put to bed this year that few people know about yet!
    OK Values is a biggie for me – I seldom if ever write about what I personally have not experienced, it may have the disclaimer that this is only my personal experience, but I always try to give a balanced view from ‘both sides’ Originality is a major point in business as you can get severely stamped on for ‘borrowing’ others content, plus it gives people pointers as to how you think and act; ‘you can trust me I just stole someone else’s words’ isn’t a great advertisement! All of the other points are important, but for me personally the next ‘biggie’ is perseverance – I write a blog every week, I know people read it as it is mentioned in conversation, yet in 3 years I have received only a handful of replies – I persevere!
    Money is not a direct correlation from my writing (yet!!) but I am working on that as mentioned.
    Freedom is very important, as a web designer I can be sat in a field camping, sunning on the beach or as you said, sat here in my PJ’s (ok today I’m in sweats and a thick jumper) Bottom line, I can fit what I do around my life and still have a life!
    Achievements; I have been asked to speak to small businesses based on what people have read in my blog and continue to support several charities with free consultations to help them get started on Social media etc. To me they are big achievements, I may not have the money to donate, but I can ‘gift’ my knowledge.
    Statistics/sales – hard to measure strictly off the blog s it is part of the site, but I guess those who read it regularly build a level of trust which leads to them working with us. I get great hits on my blog – but as mentioned few comments..
    Social status..hmm that’s difficult. One has an idea of how we would like to be seen, but without running a survey, it is hard to gauge. I have a following on social media and some great friends on Linkedin who comment on my thoughts, so I guess I have some social standing. I know I could be more popular perhaps if I conformed to social niceties, but sometimes one has to point out the ridiculous nature of others actions /decisions and occasionally I have got a little short with obstinate folk who try and convince me that rain goes up and they ‘really’ aren’t trying to sell me anything…hehe. Hope you are feeling better after the surgery btw and a belated happy new year from dull, cold UK!

    • Carol Tice

      You feel like a fraud because you write for businesses? That makes me feel sad. Business writing makes the world go round! Makes money, creates jobs, sells products. You are a critical cog in the entire US economy.

      Be proud!

    • Lorraine Reguly

      Peter, thank you for sharing your thoughts – and for the nice wishes. 😉 It sounds like you are having some success with your writing; good for you!

      Like you, I write from my personal experiences. It seems that others have more respect for you if you do this, and it adds credibility to what you’re saying. However, I’m not a business writer (Carol is) and so cannot speak to that. I can relate to the whole making money part, though! LOL Who doesn’t want to earn more? 😉 That’s one of the reasons I read Carol’s blog.

      A belated Happy New Year to you, too. May 2014 be the year you gain more social status and comments on your blog! Perhaps try ending your posts with a question for your readers to answer; this may prompt more engagement! Best of luck!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Exciting New Ways to Help YOU Write Your Book! - […] Commit to fulfilling a daily word quota. It’s easy to tell people you’re writing a book, but unless you…
  2. Operations Suck. Period. - […] obligations to live up to when feeling this way. I kinda screwed up, too, last week, when I had…

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...