7 Lessons That Could Have Made Me a Successful Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, your time is flexible to a great extent. But, sadly, one of the problems you will face is time management. 

In this article, I cover some lessons I have learned since I started freelance writing. Read them, earn more from your skills, and spend your leisure time more fruitfully. 

As a beginner, you might ask, is freelance writing a career? 

Of course, yes. It is a viable way to make money. You can have time for things like building a side business or passive income. 

It is a great feeling, but I could have done some things differently.

My Story as a Freelance Writer

I’ve been on this journey since 2016 when I wrote an article at 0.80 Kobo per word. 

I was an amateur writer when I started, of course. I aimed to make money, and though I achieved that, I was breaking my fingers typing every day. Yet, I was not earning enough. 

I don’t want to continue that way.

If you are reading this and asking, “Where to start as a freelance writer?” you might find helpful tips in the article.

I once read a quote that says, “Aim for the moon; even though you might not get it, you are not going to come with a handful of mud either.”

You don’t have to settle for less. You can earn more or be more than a freelance writer. 

Learn from my story.

I could have started freelance writing in 2013, but I didn’t overcome my fears till 2016. I started working with friends until I got the courage to ask for more. 

Then, I waited too long till 2021 before I started taking paid online writing jobs by signing up on Upwork.

7 Things I Wished I Knew Earlier as a Freelance Writer

#1. Seek Growth 

You will make money if you are growing as a freelance writer.

One day, you might feel proud when you look back at pieces you wrote years ago. But you know you can write something even better now.

While you think your writing is good enough, you want to write better content that “good enough” sounds like average writing.

So this should be your mission: Growth.

It should be a personal thing. Use your yardsticks to measure growth.

If you ask how I can grow in the freelance writing business, many ideas might come to your mind, and they could be personal. 

For example, what are you good at? What do you want to improve?  

When I started, my grammar wasn’t that good. So Grammarly came in handy. But before I could afford the software, I was searching online on how to improve. So I read books like “Elements of Style,” and studied websites like Purdue.

I want to be consistent and disciplined when posting on this blog. 

You see, it’s personal. My goal is to have a platform of my own. 

Now, think for yourself. What are your weaknesses? What do you want to improve?

Type your questions into Google search, and you will find ideas on the internet to improve or grow.

You might be, too. You will find many soft skills that can give you a greater chance to earn more. Know that you don’t have to master them all.

READ: Online Marketing: 7 Tips If You Feel Overwhelmed

#2. Join a community 

I can’t emphasize this enough. A community will help you improve or give insider tips on how to find freelance writing jobs. Some communities will even bring you opportunities. 

I received many rejections on Upwork until I checked forums and social media to get accepted on Upwork. When I was accepted, it seemed my journey had just begun, whereas I had been writing for four years.

Join a community early in your freelance writing career. You will avoid a lot of mistakes that way.

The good thing about following a community in this internet age is that your options are online, and you can belong to a group from anywhere in the world. Check Facebook, Reddit, Whatsapp, or Telegram. Ask around; you might be surprised what group you’ll find. 

#3. Prepare for the unexpected  

Clients can hire faster than a regular 9 – 5 worker. So, you can have a job in a few minutes after an interview.

But it would be stupid to think you will work for that person for five or ten years. So, I am not saying it’s impossible. I’m saying it is unlikely. 

Maybe I am exaggerating, but I have been in situations where everything is fine, and the clients stop communicating. That’s it; my source of income is gone. 

You might not experience this, but preparing for the unexpected while improving the reality will be advisable. If your client stops reaching out to you, your source of income stops.

Read: How to stay productive as a manager

#4. Learn how to manage money 

Sometimes, you don’t have jobs. Sometimes, you have more than you can handle.

My bad. I thought I needed to work every week as a freelance writer. I remember having weeks of no work and was afraid of what would happen if things persisted. 

Another month, I realized I had earned well, but I had spent it all on — you guessed — nothing.

If you are not working with a high-paying client every day, you will panic when there is no offer. 

What to do? 

Improve and work with clients who would pay well. 

Most importantly, understand how money works. I wish I had learned how to manage money. But I hope you won’t look at your earnings one day and say, “What! So I earn this much, and I don’t have money. What did I buy?” 

As freelance writers, we believe we have enough time and will always get jobs if we have the skills. But that’s not a great mentality. So, do you want to keep banging your nails on the keyboard?

Don’t you want to have financial freedom?

Read books about personal finance (start with The Millionaire Next Door). Learn how money works.

#5. Invest in your skill 

I know you are barely earning enough to feed yourself. But consider yourself a student in this journey. Learn, learn, and learn some more.

There are two ways to do this: (1) Externally and (2)Internally. 

The two might look the same at some point. 

Learn the Intrinsic Stuff

Internally, these are things you learn on your own and are hard or impossible to teach others.

I remember those days when I copied Chimamanda’s Americanah by hand. When I wrote ebooks, I was imitating Gary Harbert or Joe Sugarman.

I know this affects how I attend to certain topics or tasks. When I was doing those exercises, it seemed pointless. But you can tell that things will get better when you persist. You will absorb those people’s styles and improve. 

Also, you will learn some things that are personal.

The External Stuff: Evidence of Expertise As A Freelance Writer

Externally, this is evidence that says you are a professional in your niche. It includes everything you can show others, such as certificates from a course, blogs you have built, badges earned, etc. 

You can’t show the intrinsic stuff as much. But you can show external things.

One more thing: when you engage in an activity like blogging, you have both internal and external rewards. You have the blog as proof, and the process of building that platform is teaching you lessons that are difficult to replicate or show others. 

So what should I suggest to you?

It depends on the kind of field or niche. 

I can tell you to take just one paragraph from your favorite author and rewrite that by hand. Dissect it. Look at how each sentence forms a paragraph. Ask yourself what makes the paragraph great. If you do it daily for three weeks, you will wish you had started earlier. 

You can try the deliberate practice. I have tried it and found it helpful. You can read the story on this blog.

Will that work for other freelance writers? 

Well, I can’t say. But it worked for me when I was trying to improve how to transfer my ideas into written words. 

Check online or forums by searching “how to become a better (input your specific skill).” 

Generally, there are three common ways. 

  • Exercises (Deliberate practice)
  • Courses/videos 
  • Books

#6. Take care of yourself

Eat well, exercise, and clean up your home. Drink water. Not coke, not juice, not gin. Water! 

Take your health seriously.

#7. Build a passive source of income 

It is up to you how you are going to do this.

Trust me; when you take point 4 seriously, you will come to this point. You want to build a source of income that earns while you are sleeping.

Apply point 5 and point 1 and start funding methods that can make you earn while you sleep. 

On the internet, your options are limitless. Here are a few I know: 

  • Create courses
  • Blogging 
  • Create YouTube content 
  • Social Media management 
  • Coding 
  • Affiliate Marketing 
  • Domain flipping 
  • Kindle Publishing 
  • Other digital products 


Seek growth captures all I have explained in this blog post. If you are always ready to improve as a freelance writer, you will keep getting better.

Good luck to us.

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