What’s Your Best Piece of Advice for Freelance Writers?

Carol Tice

In all these months of reading freelance writers’ comments on this blog, I’ve noticed something:

You know a lot about freelance writing, too.

Many of you are experienced journalists or copywriters.

You’ve tried different ways to market your writing. You’ve written for different types of clients.

You’ve had busy times and slow ones. Crummy clients and great ones.

You discovered some great resources and learned from some wonderful mentors.

Some of you write about technology, or parenting, or travel. You write for glossy print magazines, for content mills, for small businesses.

You’re just starting out as a freelancer, or as a writer. Or you’ve been at it for years.

You live in the Phillipines, or Malta, or New Jersey (or so Mailchimp tells me). You wear the hijab, or you wear a bikini.

The global reach of this blog and its usefulness for people from so many walks of life has frankly blown my mind.

Whatever road has brought you to this freelance-writing life, I welcome your participation. It’s an honor and privilege and really, a delight, to have your presence in my virtual home.

I know you have something valuable to teach all of us, from your own unique experience.

So — today I’d like to hear from you. It’s your day to be the expert.

Tell me your best piece of advice for freelance writers.

Leave it in the comments below. I’ll take the 20 best pieces of wisdom and make a post out of them later this month.


  1. blue ocean strategy

    We keep your page. Watch it offline again soon. Very interesting article.

  2. M. Sharon Baker

    My two cents:

    1) Start out writing what you know.
    2) Learn how to market, and market every day.
    3) Charge professional rates.
    4) Create simple, one-sheet proposals stating what you will do, how much it will cost and spell out payment terms.
    5) Make sure your payment terms require at least 50 percent upfront.

    • Carol Tice

      Now there’s a terrific little primer on what it takes! Thanks Sharon.

  3. Tom Bentley

    Persistence, in writing and in sending the writing out, makes a big difference. I sold two pieces last year that were years’ old; I still had faith in the quality of the articles, and just found the editors who were looking for them. I also sold two short stories that were 7 and 10 years old, respectively. Again, just sending them out, over time, even when other editors said “no.”

    You have to just move on from the rejections (which are more like, “not right for us now,”) and keep trying. On that same note, writing a small amount every day has a tremendous advantage over thinking about writing something—and just continuing to think about it. It’s remarkable how much you can get done if you just write for a half-hour a day.

  4. John Burnell

    Be professional. So many freelance assignments involve you talking to your client’s customers. You need to present as a professional, not someone doing freelance writing as a hobby. Be on time for all calls and appointments, no barking dogs or noisy kids in the background, use clear, professional e-mail addresses. Some clients think people freelance because they can’t cut it in the business world. We need to convey otherwise.

  5. Stephen

    Wow … what great information here. Thanks to all.

    My advice would be if you have a niche … leverage it!

    So many of the great freelancers—Bob Bly, Peter Bowerman and Michael Stelzner have shared this gem of wisdom with me over the years. Last autumn it finally sunk in. I know healthcare writing (and marketing), plus I love it!

    So I started slowly parting with most of my non-healthcare clients—but kept a few of my favorites including a winery (fun!), a spa (relaxing), and an engineering company (very challenging in a good way). Thus, my business focus shifted from about 60% healthcare to 90%+ healthcare.

    I can tell you without reservation that the experts are right. Unless you prefer to be a generalist (Peter Bowerman does), your earning potential can increase dramatically. Mine has quickly.

    Draw from your existing expertise & best of luck!

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