|Qualities of a Freelancer
Good writing, knowledge of markets, and speed.
These are three qualities needed by a freelance
writer. I'm reminded of this every time I have a
conversation with someone interested in knowing
what it takes to be one.
Knowledge of markets is the most crucial and the
one writers usually resist the most.
Those are the equations for many writers. They touch
a difficult nerve. But, if you apply a bit of study
it's something that you can deal with, even master:
(1) Make time to study the market books. Pour over them
and write down notes when you come to a publication
you could approach with an idea. Try to understand all
the writing markets that exist. Try it first in your own
region. There are fantastic resources like the Literary
Marketplace, SRDS, or PubList.com that show you every
publication that exists around where you live. And that
includes newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and
(2) The publisher has found an audience. He wants to
be able to go to advertisers and say, "I have a good
audience for you, one that you want to meet." And he goes
to the editor and says, "Get me the best content that will
bring every resource to this audience and make them happy."
Experience will teach a writer the great variety of culture
and community that exists. You can't fool them. If you
give them facts and diversion in a pleasant way, you can
(3) The single best piece of advice is to study the
publication you want to write for over a long period
of time, even a year. Editors will tell you that they
can sense when someone has taken the time to research
the magazine and its needs and it impresses them. This
is part of the sublime connection a writer can make with
* * * * *
Speaking of editors I can offer a few insights since I've
been one for some years at Sunoasis.com.
(a) Don't run with the crowd. The crowd will only
drive you over a cliff into the sea. Let the crowd run
for awhile and then get very counter-intuitive about
why they are running in the same direction. If a subject
gets hot, by the time most writers find out it's too late.
Once you see the crowd flowing past you start asking
questions like, "what's wrong with this picture?" You'll
find many more ideas than if you start running with them.
(b) If an editor has a professional relation with a
writer, chances are they will listen to someone the writer
has recommended. That is part of the networking process.
And it works that way because the editor is looking for
constancy and credibility. When he builds a relation with
a writer, he begins to trust that writer and the writer
isn't going to do something to violate that trust.
* * * * *
The freelance writer must turn over work fairly regularly. That takes
knowledge of the market and how to use one article or one topic many times
through the marketplace.
Every writer should know, after some experience, how long it takes to complete
a piece of writing. That has got to be a prime habit the writer learns early on.
A writer can write fast when they trust the power of revision. Just write out the piece
as it comes tumbling from the mind, get a big fat file down on the computer desktop. And
then apply the art and craft of revision to the heap of words. If you don't trust this power
of revision; if you think your words are etched in stone, then it is likely you will not
write fast enough and turn enough copy over to be a freelance writer.
* * * * *
"Good writing," may appear an intangilbe quality at first. However, it is marked by conciseness,
revision, a targeted goal, good grammar and punctuation.
The most important quality to have as a freelance
writer is the belief some aspect of your writing will improve next assignment. Combine that with boundless curiousity
and you will flourish as a professional writer.
Written by David Eide, Sunoasis.com
If you have any questions about careers in freelance writing
don't hesitate to ask!
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