Proven Steps That Will Help You Become a Freelance Writer

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Growing up I always dreamed of writing. I loved it. I won an award in kindergarten for my first book, and it went to a state competition that it also won for best writing and illustration for my age group. I continued on this path, writing ‘books’ and short stories throughout my life, and my parents kept every one of them. Of course, I never thought I had a shot at making my career one of writing. I’ll eventually publish a book (my lifelong dream) but that’s years off. I’m about to turn 32, which means that the internet was not really a thing when I was growing up. Even in high school, we didn’t really use it all that much, so the concept of working from home as a freelance writer was not something that ever crossed my mind – it didn’t really even exist. I went off to college, did some other things, got married and worked in the accounting industry.

When our first daughter was born and I made the decision to stay home, I figured I had nothing to lose at that point and I gave writing a chance. It wasn’t easy to get my foot in the door. The pay was low at first. It took a while to build up a following and to learn what was needed, wanted and how to go about writing. But eventually I was able to get my feet off the ground and succeed in this business. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of work and a lot of dedication. It takes a while before good money comes along, and you’re going to have to change your writing abilities and your work habits on a regular basis to keep up with the changing trends.

But there are a few important steps you have to take if you want to succeed in the freelance writing industry. They’re the most helpful pieces of advice I’ve accumulated over the past 7 years, and they have worked well for me.

Do Everything with Confidence

You cannot succeed in the world if you are not confident in your abilities. I don’t wake up in the mornings and say, “I really wish I was better at this,” or “I’m not good enough to do this,” or “Boy, this is hard work.” I wake up every morning, drink some coffee and mentally prep for the day. I take a look at the titles my editor has given to me, I do some research while I relax and I begin formulating my articles in my head. I love a challenge, and I love to figure out how to take something that might initially seem mundane and make it fun, helpful, informative and entertaining to my readers. It’s not always easy to do it with confidence. I second guess myself on a regular basis – it’s hard not to when readers like to write to me to tell me I should die, that I’m a waste of life, that I’m awful, that I stole moments of their lives that they’ll never get back.

But my confidence is always restored reading emails from people who tell me that I’m hilarious, that I’m helpful, that something I said changed their lives or that they look forward to seeing what I have to say every single day. That’s awesome – and it helps to remember that all ‘publicity’ is good publicity because making people mad and irritating them means they’re reading your work and really thinking about what you say. Find confidence everywhere in your writing – and use it.

Accept Constructive Criticism

Never, ever accept harsh and unconstructive criticism. It’s pointless, useless and teaches you nothing. However, when someone has some constructive criticism for you, don’t take it as a bad thing. Learn from it. It’s the best way to learn and to improve and to make positive changes.

Read and Re-Read Everything

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to do this with four kids running around, and sometimes I will end up re-reading the same paragraph 12 times and realize later that I never got any further. But go ahead; you’re going to sometimes love what you have to say and sometimes you’re going to hate it. However, you’re always going to look back in the future at something you wrote today and think to yourself, “Why do I ever doubt myself when I’m this good?”

Edit Well

Believe me when I say that it’s not always easy to edit, but do your best. It’s so easy to miss little mistakes; I do it all the time. Spell check is not perfect. Sometimes you end up writing a word two times in a row and you miss it. It happens – but most people understand. Do your absolute best to edit, but don’t spend all day long worrying about it. Mistakes happen, and we’re all just human.

Read Articles Related to your Own Writing

I find it helpful to read articles that are similar to what I’m writing. I like to see how others view the same concept, and I like to read the comments. I like to see what people might feel that the writer missed or did not address so that I can consider addressing it myself. It helps me grow, teaches me and inspires me, and that is something you have to embrace in the freelance world. You learn every single day. If you’re not learning, you’re not evolving and you’re not doing it right.

Be Humorous

Not every subject is humorous, but you know when it’s appropriate and when it’s not. Dry humor seems to be a big hit, and people love it. Or maybe that’s because I speak fluent sarcasm that I feel people love it. But I’ll tell you this; I see more shares, likes and enjoyment of articles that are humorous and light – while also serious – on social media and in life than anything else. So embrace your inner comedian – or get one now.

Love what you Do

If you don’t love what you do, it shows. You have to love your work, and it’s no longer work. I love what I do, and I love that. I love that my work works around my schedule. I love how much I learn, and I really love that I’ve become a fountain of seemingly useless knowledge from the tens of thousands of topics I’ve covered over the past almost-decade. It’s made me really, really good at trivia games. Like…so good. I’m unbeatable.

Hustle

This is something I cannot stress enough. You’ve got to pitch your work and make it good. You’ve got to do this every single day, and you’ve got to do it well. If you’re not hustling, you’re not succeeding.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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