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Top 20 Tips to a Successful Writing Career

My passion for writing started at an early age, but my pursuit of writing as a career only started a few years back. I thought I had something interesting to say and I thought I had a unique way of saying it. Over the last few years I have discovered that there is more to know and do if I want to be a successful freelance writer.

20 Tips for Writing Success

    1. Be on time. Being punctual is essential in the writing industry. I have gotten jobs and recommendations for other jobs simply because I hit my deadline. Now, if I can just figure out how to transpose that punctuality to my family life!

    2. Learn how to listen. There are going to be people that explain the job that is needed but may not really understand what they are explaining. Listen to everything that the editor or client has to say – it is not your article but their article in the end.

    3. Be willing to ask questions. It is better to clarify in the beginning exactly what is expected. Take notes during all conversations so you have something to look at and to ask questions about in order to be sure that the job you do is the job that is requested.

    4. Follow directions. Do what the client asks or just do not accept the job in the first place. Meet the deadline, the word count and the subject matter.

    5. Accept criticism. Be willing to accept edits, listen to input and have an attitude of change. Take the information and use it to grow instead of letting it turn your creative juices into mud.

    6. Watch your words. It seems that I am always writing something, somewhere – Twitter, Facebook, blogs – and if I have something negative to say about another person in the industry it may come back to haunt me in the future. There are times when I will not agree with what others have to say but instead of going negative stick to the positive and those words will help carry you much farther in your career.

    7. Only offer what you can do. It is better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and disappoint (and potentially hurt) the person that hired you to do the job.

    8. Get organized. The method to your madness is not as important as having a method to start with to keep your jobs on time. I use folders, internet alerts, a white board and a do list. It helps to know what you can add to your schedule if you understand what you schedule is to start.

    9. Continue to learn. Taking online courses, attending conferences or finding classes that you can attend are all ways to continue to hone your writing skills.

    10. Master the technology. Having an understanding of the internet, computers and software are all ways to increase your value in the freelance writing industry. I have gotten writing jobs because I knew how to work in WordPress (which I learned while working on another job).

    11. Make a few friends. Writing can be a solitary career if you choose to make it one. The internet has opened up opportunities to connect with other writers and professionals in the industry without having to ever leave your home. The added bonus is that friends and online connections can help drive your freelance writing career to the next level.

    12. Be willing to share. Sharing is just a nice habit to form for life in general. Online this can mean creating an eBook to donate to a cause, offering to be a guest blogger on a friend’s website, posting comments on blogs and forums that do NOT relate to your own work or linking to other websites just to share those websites.

    13. Work with consistency. The last website owner that I talked with complained that the work started out good with new writers but then went downhill. Do your best work each time you present your work.

    14. Step outside your comfort zone. If you only write what you know and are comfortable doing then you will never grow beyond that point. Be willing to write in a genre or niche that is not your normal material.

    15. Develop the skill of research. Some of the freelance writing jobs that come across my table involve topics from the benefits of nuclear power to tips for traveling to Australia. Having the ability to research any topic opens up more writing opportunities.

    16. Help others get to where they want to be. One of the easiest ways to get to the top of your freelance writing career is by helping others reach their potential. Encourage, support and teach writers that are just starting out and you will see the benefits of that pour over into your own freelance writing career.

    17. Learn how to say no. It may seem counterproductive to turn down a job, particularly when you are first launching your freelance writing career, but saying no may be just as important as saying yes. Turn down jobs when the topic makes you feel uncomfortable or when the payment is not what you need to make your desired wage. It is better to say not than to do something that you will regret.

    18. Do a little more for a little less. Sometimes it may pay in the long run to take a lower paying job for now. Websites, publications or companies that are starting out may pay you less in the beginning and increase the pay as they become more established. They may also mean more exposure for your writing which is always good for your writing career.

    19. Speak out. Writing is not just about writing any more. Talk to groups about your niche, experiences or opportunities. Public speaking is a great way to promote your writing and expand your freelance career.

    20. Be professional. No matter how good the writing may be, it still needs to be crafted professionally. Do your best to correct any spelling or grammatical errors before turning in your writing even if you know it is going to be edited. Acting professional is just as important. Walk, talk, dress and speak the part of a professional writer if you want to be taken as a professional.

Developing a freelance writing career will not happen overnight. These 20 steps are only the beginning. Add to the list as you grow your own skills. Becoming a successful freelance writer is about change more than anything else.

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