The other day, I talked about three keys to freelance writing success — three things you could do, actions you could take, and traits you could cultivate with work and practice. But that’s not the whole secret. There are three more characteristics that most – if not all – successful freelancers have. If you don’t have them starting out, you can definitely develop them. Once you’ve developed these characteristics, you need to learn how to convey them in a short email in order to sell yourself as the writer for any particular job you may want. That’s really all it takes.
Keep reading as I share the three characteristics successful freelancers possess, and how to show prospective editors that you have them, too. (Even if you don’t… yet.)
So you can’t fake this or create it, but it definitely helps. It’s a large part of how I land freelance writing jobs so quickly. Even if you haven’t been writing for more than 20 years, with a 10-plus year freelance career and four Editor-in-Chief titles under your belt, you can still present yourself as a seasoned veteran.
Play up any writing experience you do have – even if it dates back to your college newspaper. Your own blog, if it’s professional looking, well done, and updated regularly, can impress editors as much as a byline on a high-traffic website. When you apply for jobs, share your best, most prestigious clips. You may not have a LOT of experience, but everyone has SOME experience. Showcase it to set yourself apart from the pack.
If you have real-world experience in any particular field, make sure to mention it. If you’ve written articles on a specific topic, let the editor know. If you’re lacking in both these areas, you can still show knowledge of the particular publication, website or topic, to convince editors you’re qualified to write for them.
If you try to fake enthusiasm, it’s going to get old quickly. You won’t have much success, as it’s pretty easy to scope out those who try to fake it. If you do succeed, you’ll be stuck with a writing assignment you hate. If you’re going to do that, you may as well work a nine-to-five office J.O.B.
Don’t apply for any freelance writing jobs or pitch any articles that you’re not enthusiastic about. You might be enthusiastic about the subject matter (ideally), the specific publication, or maybe just the pay rate. If paying the bills through your writing is all it takes to get you excited, you could have a long and illustrious, albeit mercenary, freelance writing career. For the purpose of your pitch letter, however, you’ll want to channel all that enthusiasm into the topic.
Passion shows… and passion sells. If you can convey a passion for the writing craft, (along with writing aptitude) and back it up with real-world knowledge of the marketplace (even if you only garnered that knowledge through a Web search 20 minutes before writing your pitch), and a few clips that display your passion and knowledge –you’ll find plenty of freelance writing gigs yours for the taking.