Freelance Writer  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotFreelance writers aren't on staff at a publication -- they sell manuscripts and articles to a variety of editors on speculation or assignment. They may write articles for magazines, newspapers, newsletters, journals, online publications or technical journals. Or they may write television or movie scripts or books.

"As a freelancer, my work is multifaceted. Although my first love is writing articles and fiction, I've expanded my services to manuscript editing, marketing, writing promotional copy, ghost writing, and designing professional resumes," says Oklahoma freelance writer Bev Walton-Porter.

dotWriters must be able to express ideas clearly and logically. Being creative, curious, knowledgeable, motivated and able to persevere is valuable. The ability to concentrate and produce under pressure is essential. In this computer age, familiarity with electronic publishing and computers is important as well.

dotFor a writer to be taken seriously, they must produce a portfolio of published work. The best way to build a portfolio is by taking non-paying writing assignments for a while. Hit hometown newspapers, churches or company newsletters.

dotBe willing to start out small and work your way up. Writing assignments have a tendency to snowball if you keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. The more you write, the more confidence you'll have and the better you'll be. And it will show in your work.

Many freelancers write part time while holding down other full-time jobs.

dotFreelancers must learn to accept rejection and not take it personally. "A bad day freelancing is always better than a good day in an office cubicle," says freelancer Scott Ruddick.

dotBeing a freelancer requires an enormous amount of self-discipline. Successful writers develop effective work habits -- many work out of their homes, which can save money in child care or even work clothing.

dotFreelancers often work hard and long hours -- seven days a week. However, they have the freedom to make their own work schedule to suit their lifestyle.

At a Glance

Write independently

  • The hours are flexible
  • Business skills are as important as writing skills
  • This job leaves lots of room for creativity and freedom