Ellen Cline, writer
Creative communication that markets, informs, and entertains

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What’s it like being a freelance writer?

Author: ; Published: Mar 28, 2011; Category: Business Writing; Tags: , ; No Comments

woman writing with quill

Students in a professional writing class at UNM asked me to answer some questions about being a freelance writer. I realized maybe the things they were asking about were questions others might have as well.

My work is mainly centered on helping people market their products and services. Whether writing web content or a press release, I’m generally helping organizations develop their marketing messages and materials.

The students wanted to know what qualities were needed to be successful. I said self-motivation and flexibility.

I told the students you have to be able to obtain and organize your own work, and meet deadlines. You have to be able to learn new topics very quickly. If something changes on a project, you need to be ready to switch gears. Providing good customer service is essential.

When they asked about the best parts of being a freelancer, I said the ability to choose clients and be in charge of your own work. If you have a variety of clients, you can also learn about a wide variety of topics. This is fun if you are a person who enjoys learning.

Then they asked about bad experiences, and if I’d had any. I said, of course, if you are in any type of business you are going to have bad experiences. The client needs to value what you do. If they don’t see the value in what you do, there will be conflicts.

Another dangerous category of work is when someone wants you to “fix” a project someone else has started. That generally is a formula for disaster. Start fresh.

Over the years, I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the strange with various clients and potential clients. Whether it’s slow payment or someone wanting to read my palm at a first meeting, I’ve seen a lot, although I’m sure not all.

Right now I genuinely like my clients and have good relationships with them. Is this a result of luck or my many years of experience? I think a little of both.

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