Freelance Boot Camps FencerFirst of all, I rarely call myself a Freelance Writer anymore. So that’s Reason #1 right there. These days I prefer Strategic Communications Consultant, Marketing Content Creator, or Influencer. I routinely change the terminology on my website and LinkedIn profile to reflect the keyword search term du jour for freelancers like me. I also like to use titles that let prospects know my capabilities extend beyond writing to include project management, consulting, and messaging strategy. These fancy names for Writer help me appeal to a wider range of potential clients.

Reason #2 – I accepted a harsh truth. From the start, I understood that business skills would be just as important as writing skills in my freelance success. Whenever I speak at a writers’ meeting or conference, I focus on this, and I can see the disappointment in the eyes of would-be freelancers. But it’s the truth. All the successful freelance writers I know are excellent business people. My advice? Take classes in Negotiating, Marketing, Selling, Invoicing and Proposal Writing. These are the skills you’ll need to be financially successful.

Reason #3 – I expanded my writing repertoire. When I started out 25 years ago, my writing skills were primarily limited to feature articles and press releases. That was a great first step toward appealing to business clients, but they wanted more. So, to become a true one-stop writing shop, I had to learn how to write other things – brochures, advertisements, white papers, video scripts, and more. I took continuing education classes when I could, but I also teamed on projects with successful writers who had different skill sets. I learned by doing, right alongside those experts. (I also learned there were some types of writing I didn’t enjoy, and I subcontracted that work out going forward.)

Reason #4 – I added non-writing services to my portfolio. Freelancers do not live by writing alone. Not only did this boost my revenue, but it kept me from burning out on writing. As noted in the introduction above, I regularly win contracts to develop communications plans, manage marketing projects, and create messaging strategies. Because most of my clients are commercial organizations, this has required me to study and take business classes on Marketing, Consulting, Social Media, and Management. Udemy is one of my favorites for online learning, and many big U.S. cities have a version of the Colorado Free University continuing education school we have here in Denver. More than anything, these additional revenue sources have kept me engaged and enabled my business to meet ever-changing market demands.

So, what’s the bottom line for succeeding as a freelance writer? The same as just about every other path in life – Never Stop Learning. It’s worked for me…for more than 25 years.

Want to learn more about the business of freelance writing? I recently recorded a free 27-minute PowerPoint talk that I often present in person to writers’ groups: Six-Figure Freelancing – Three Keys to Success.