5 Ways to Know You’re Meant to be a Freelance Writer

Digital content writer Laura Gatsos Young asks details five ways to know if you're meant to be a freelance writer

Have you ever wondered if a career in freelance writing is for you? Maybe you’re looking to bring in some additional income or contemplating a career change. Perhaps, you’re finally ready to give in to that longing to make your passion for writing your career. I hear you! But, you might be asking yourself, how do you know if you’re meant to be a freelance writer?

In this post, I’m asking you the tough but crucial questions that I faced as I embarked upon my freelance writing journey, and most of them having nothing to do with writing ability at all.

I’m asking these questions not to discourage you, but because I wish someone had raised them with me before I made the transition.

My hope is that after reading this post, you’ll know, and probably feel down in your gut, whether freelance writing is a practical path for you.

DO YOU ALWAYS COME BACK TO WRITING?

After staring at the blinking cursor for what feels like five solid minutes, you finally bang out a few words only to immediately slam down on the delete button in disgust. Everyone in Starbucks is staring at you, pitying the poor recipient of that nasty email you’ve just sent.

Thankfully, no one will ever know that you’re actually struggling to get the right words down on the page.

Welcome to writing. Some days the words flow, and some days they don’t. On the days they do, it is a beautiful composition of ideas. On those other days, frustration is all too real. And getting the right words down on paper is just the beginning. A successful assignment means producing a coherent, engaging document with a compelling headline, a promise fulfilled, and a reader eager to engage further.

But there is one sure-fire way to know if this complex process is your happy place: you keep coming back to it.

I can’t tell you how often I get up from my desk, frustrated, telling myself I need a break only to run back to it a few minutes later because I’ve thought of a new approach. This constant pull back to my work is a big sign that I am doing what I love, no matter how hard it is.

You’re meant to be a freelance writer if you have the ability to keep with it and return to it, regardless of creative droughts, client revisions, and stumbling blocks.

Another good sign? You are dedicated to improving.

ARE YOU CONSTANTLY TRYING TO IMPROVE?

Does the thought of a new headline analyzer or hashtag tool light you up? Do you go back over your own blog posts constantly looking for ways to improve or inject new learnings? 

The freelance writing business demands that you are constantly learning. Algorithms change, clients require different writing styles, industry trends demand attention, and headlines fall flat. Plus you write! Writing is a skill that can forever be improved upon, and in most cases, requires proactive learning. It is part of your job to seek out information that will benefit your clients, including how to be a better writer.

So, if tips and tricks and online writing tools are your jam, then get ready to dive into the endless trove of marketing How-Tos.

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE MARKETING YOURSELF?

So many writers sit behind their computers, pumping out brilliant copy that very few people ever read. The fact that they are talented writers means nothing if they’re not marketing themselves and pitching clients.

This is one of the biggest pitfalls freelance writers fall victim to. Thankfully, I was warned about early on in my entrepreneurial journey, even if it took me awhile to put it into practice.

If you are new to writing, it is totally understandable that you focus on getting your writing samples done. You need published work to share with your potential clients, right? 

True, but you also need to commit to a plan to put that work in front of other people as well. This means proactively marketing your services through social media channels, publishing platforms, networking sites and cold pitches.

The difference between a successful writer, read: profitable, and one that sits on solid copy but hears crickets is marketing. 

It’s a skill that can be honed but does require a willingness on your part to get out there.

If you can picture yourself as the star of your marketing plan, you’ve got what it takes to market your writing services.

ARE YOU A REALIST?

Launching any business takes a lot of time, both in terms of your personal time and actual time, to come to fruition. Sales goals? They, too, will be met in time.

Here are some things to consider when assessing whether you can realistically afford the hours, days and months it takes to be a working freelance writer:

  • Do you have blocks of time (consecutive hours every day or a few days a week) to dedicate to research, writing, marketing and pitching yourself? (how many will depend on the money you need to make)
  • Do you have the financial means to go for a while without an income?
  • Are you ok with putting in a lot of effort for a delayed reward? This is more of a psychological question because some of us are motivated by immediate results. In contrast, others are OK with a distant goal.

Another reality, and one that is telling as to whether you’re meant to be a freelance writer, is whether you accept that you are a business owner. Yes, that’s right. You own and are responsible for the success of your business. This doesn’t always click with new writers because again, they focus on the writing.

If you have the time and are willing to be a business owner (or at least learn how), you have a wonderful chance to operate a prosperous freelance writing business.

DOES IT SUPPORT YOUR WHY?

What is your why? Has anyone ever asked you that question? Have you asked it of yourself? It’s a popular question business coaches ask of entrepreneurs.

Your why is the reason you do what you do or what inspires you. For example, why did you choose to go into freelance writing? The answer can be anything. Mine is: I love writing, and I find professional purpose in sharing my marketing knowledge with female founders.

You are best to establish your why because it will be the basis for your business. You will reach your goals and enjoy the work if you remain true to why you travelled down this path.

For example, if your why is that you would like to have the freedom to work from home, so that you can spend more time with your kids, then you will be more motivated to make it work because there is a deeper goal driving you. If you fail, there is a real consequence: you spend less time with your kids or your business flops.

But, if your why is that you need to make six figures in six months because you read that it was possible, then you might need to reassess your reasons for pursuing it. Why? Because your purpose is rooted in a near impossible financial goal, and if you don’t realize it, you’ll give up.

Starting my business has given me renewed purpose and a challenge that I was eager to meet on a professional level. It could do that for you as well.

SO, YOU’RE MEANT TO BE A FREELANCE WRITER, RIGHT?

I hope this blog post has given you lots to consider if you are pursuing a career in freelance writing. I know starting a freelance writing business might sound daunting – starting anything new always feels that way – but if you take the time to answer these questions honestly, then you can be confident you’re starting from a position of strength.

Read about how I gave up “a job a million girls would die for” to find my professional purpose.

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