Real-Life Tips to Help You Thrive as a Freelance Writer

I may be thriving as a writer now but, to be honest, it wasn’t always this easy. It definitely wasn’t all sunshine and I most certainly felt like I’d never see the light at the end of the tunnel in the beginning of my writing journey. So, let’s rewind. Let me take you through my journey from the very beginning.

I literally started from the bottom. Ever hear of content mills? I’m sure you have, especially if you have been at this for some time now. If not, content mills are basically a company you can write for that gets paid directly from the client and then the content mill pays you pennies for you to do the endless writing. Along with those low-paying content mills come hundreds of rejections per day (okay, maybe not that many.) Most writers have been there. You know, that one editor who is downright mean. The one who tears your writing apart and nitpicks each part of your content. I’m not going to lie–it bothered me when it happened. With such comments about my writing, I literally began contemplating if I was even cut out to be a writer. I came so close to calling it quits.

But you know what? Between networking with other writers, doing my research, and reaching out to private clients, something happened. As I endlessly browsed the writer forums, followed top writers, and found sources to get private clients, I realized I’m not a horrible writer after all. Quite honestly, just like other writers, I’ve noticed that clients who pay less tend to be fussier about small errors. Why? I’m not sure, but I’m not the only one who notices it.

Starting from the bottom and working myself up to being published in a magazine and writing for several doctors is my journey summed up. You, too, can  thrive as a freelance writer with some helpful tips.

So, What Can You Do to Thrive as a Writer?

First Thing First – Just Accept Negative Feedback

Although it may sound odd, I’m quite thankful for the rejections I received. Without those rejections, I wouldn’t have flourished as a writer. If you want to thrive as a writer, you must let go of the negative thinking you experience after you receive rejections. If that sounds like you, trust me, I know how you feel. I’ve been there, too. Instead of holding grudges on editors, keep their suggestions in mind. Being a successful freelance writer means you need to have thick skin. Don’t take what editors say personally; it’s not a reflection of you personally.

Time Management

This one may be a no-brainer but honestly, why do so many writers miss deadlines then? Because they don’t have proper time management, right? I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t always best with deadlines. I could give you a list a mile long explaining why I was late for work before but I’m not going to do that. Being a professional freelance writer means you need to stick to a schedule and you must act as a professional. Just winging your work and hoping for the best isn’t going to produce growth in your business. In fact, you will be ruining your reputation as a freelance writer if you consistently miss deadlines. Get a planner and schedule in work for the day or week, whichever works best for you; organization is key to maintaining your time. Additionally, when you’re writing, you should literally only be writing. Make sure to schedule work when you have no other distractions.

Focus on Your Strengths

Rather than focus on not getting a certain gig, think about the clients you did gain. Think about the times your work was accepted. Transitioning your thought process can make a significant change for your business. Tip: put all of the positive feedback you receive from clients in a folder in your email.

By combining all of the positive feedback in one spot, you can easily go back and read the emails again when you’re feeling “not good enough.”

Reach For More

Some people don’t realize the full potential that freelance writing has. If you push yourself and put everything into your writing, you can charge more. You have this talent that your client needs and without your service, they probably wouldn’t have great content. If you’re still charging pennies per word, it’s time to re-think your value. I totally get it, though, you’re nervous. You may even think, “Why would a client want to pay me a higher rate?” I used to think the same thing, as do many writers. However, this mindset can be totally changed when you reach for better clients. You can’t keep working for mills -busting yourself trying to cram in 20 articles per day to pay the rent- You need to get creative and think outside the box to land better-paying clients.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

I’m sure most you have heard of this saying, especially if you’ve been writing for some time now. It’s true, though. Never, ever settle with just one client. I’m not saying stress yourself out and have 10 clients at a time, but you should think logically. If you settle on just one client, you’re risking them not needing your services anymore. If you’ve written for content mills, you know how fast they go down. Even if you work for a regular client, you need to keep in mind they could suddenly say the project is on hold.

Stop With The Excuses

Look, I know you’re probably sitting there thinking, “Yea, right, I’ll never make it,” or “I can’t let the content mills go because they make me feel secure.” I understand your fears because I used to think the exact same way. Those content mills currently pay your bills and you can count on fast payment. The thing is, though, that’s all those content mills are doing–paying your bills. If you want to strive for more, you need to rid yourself of the excuses. Transitioning your thinking is a huge part of thriving as a writer. Anytime you think you aren’t worthy of a better client, you need to remember that your writing skills are a gift; it’s a skill that is worth more than you know. When you get a thought that you will never make it, you need to change your thinking to, “I made it this far and I can go further.”

You have the potential to go far as a freelance writer–you just need to find it in yourself to drop the excuses and chase your dreams.

About the author

Heather Burdo

Heather Burdo

Heather Burdo is a freelance writer from New York. She loves the challenge of writing on any topic but mostly enjoys health and parenting topics. You can find her work in the Gluten-Free Living magazine and can visit her at

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