Not that I blame them, of course. I’ve been there, done that, got the repetitive strain syndrome to prove it. I’ve wasted hundreds of words on query letters and articles, felt that familiar drop of the stomach as each rejection came in, and spent hours online, searching for that big old secret that would let me make a career out of doing something I loved.
Well here’s the secret: there isn’t one.
Before you hit the back button in disgust, though, let me clarify.
There is no great secret to building a successful business as a freelance writer. That much is true. Sometimes, though, it feels as if there is. When you’re a new writer, desperately struggling to win your first freelance commission, it’s tempting to think that everyone else knows something you don’t. How else would other writers be managing to snag those elusive contracts and huge payouts when you’re still collecting rejection slips? Why can no one ever seem to tell you what to do to get your writing career off the ground?
When you’re just starting out in freelancing, the constant rejections and lack of progress can be very disheartening: and while it’s true that there’s no great secret to breaking into the industry, it’s also true that some people seem to manage it better than others.
It’s those people’s secrets we’ll be sharing in this blog over the coming weeks: the tips and techniques that have helped real freelance writers build successful businesses.
Before we do that, though, I’ll share the biggest secret I know about freelance writing: it’s a business.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Surprisingly enough, though, many of the freelance writers I encounter don’t seem to have realized this important fact. To that extent, it sometimes really does seem like the best-kept secret in the freelance writing world.
It’s true, though: freelance writing is a business.
That means you have to think like a businessperson in order to succeed as a writer. You need to know a little bit about marketing, a little bit about sales, a little bit about customer service, a little bit about finance, a little bit about advertising: and, of course, a little bit about writing.
You’re probably thinking I got that wrong. Surely you’ll need to know a whole lotabout writing if you want to start a business as a freelance writer? Not necessarily.
Here’s another secret for you: the most successful freelance writers aren’t necessarily the most talented writers.
This one seems a bit odd. Writing, as we all know, is a skill, a talent. It’s an art that you have to hone carefully over many years in order to get good at it. Well, yes. All of this is true. But this post isn’t about writing. It’s aboutfreelance writing. And freelance writing is first and foremost a business.
Now, I’m not for a second claiming that the quality of your writing doesn’t matter. If your writing skills aren’t up to scratch then you won’t succeed as a freelance writer, period. What I am saying, however, is that excellent writing skills alone aren’t enough. Some off the best writers I know have absolutely no idea how to market their skills or find clients, and even less clue how to run a business. Those writers aren’t currently working as freelancers.
On the other hand, there are other people out there whose writing skills, although good, are nothing out of the ordinary, but who work hard at selling themselves. Those are the ones making a living out of freelance writing.
Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to find out that if you can find a way to combine the two – great writing and great business sense – you could be not just making a living out of freelance writing, but a very good living indeed.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the secrets of starting and running a successful freelance writing business. Check back tomorrow for the next installment!