I’m often asked: “Can I become a full-time freelance writer?” or “When should I quit my day job and go full-time as a freelancer?” Essentially, what these writers want to know is whether they have the attributes of a full-time professional writer.
Here are some of the attributes of a full-time freelance writer. You:
1. Are a rainmaker. That is, you’re someone who’s prepared to market and make connections, so that you’ve got plenty of work coming in. A rainmaker ENJOYS researching markets and contacting editors with queries and proposals;
2. Have a “what it takes” attitude. Freelancing is changing. Today’s freelancer devotes a few hours every week to learning — to taking courses in new areas, to getting up to speed with new computer programs, to knowing what’s happening not just in the areas in which you write, but to publishing and media in general;
3. Have an anchor client, or clients who cover the cost of your mortgage and living expenses every month. An anchor client gives you on-going commissions. It’s steady, reliable work. You may be working as an associate editor, or writing articles for three publications, or be working part-time for an advertising or other agency;
4. Love to write — most of the time;
5. Can manage deadlines;
6. Can negotiate contracts. You know what rights you’re selling with material, and are prepared to say “no”, in a calm, professional manner.
There are other attributes — it’s advisable to have a few months’ worth of living expenses saved, for example, in case disaster strikes and you’re not able to work for a month or two. However, the attributes I’ve outlined above are pretty much the essentials.
If you find that you’re lacking in an attribute — many writers hate to market themselves for example — it’s not a bar to a professional writing career. However, it does mean that you need to recognize the deficiency, and work to correct it. I hated to market my work for around 15 years, and managed to turn that around so that now marketing is huge FUN for me, and I look forward to it. But it took recognizing the problem, admitting that I had the problem, and then working to correct it over a three-month period.
[tags]freelance writer, freelance career, attributes, marketing[/tags]
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