What Does It Take To Be a Well Paid Freelance Writer?

  • SumoMe

As a new freelance writer one of my biggest hold-ups is the fear that my writing isn’t good enough to get paid good rates for it. If I stop to think about it for a minute I realize that this is complete rubbish.

For one thing, It’s very easy for me to be overly critical of my own abilities. This is a trap that many writers and would be entrepreneurs fall in to. We underestimate our value. In fact, this holds true for most people. We really are our own worst critics.

Of course, I should always be able to look at my work critically. There is always room for improvement. But this should not hold me back from getting my feet wet. Is it realistic to expect myself to perform at the level of an expert who’s been doing this for years if I am just starting my writing career? Of course not.

And that expert? He had to start somewhere, too.

But there is another reason why this should not hold me back.

What It Really Takes To Be A Well Paid Freelance Writer

Freelance writing success does not require mastery of the English language. In fact, some of the writers I follow and respect, and who make a full-time career of writing, actually have worse English than me! Their blogs are filled with grammar and spelling mistakes that I can easily recognize.

Has that stopped them from getting paid for their work? Nope.

That got me to thinking about what it really takes to be a successful writer. I’ve come up with a small list that sums up what I’ve observed. If I can learn to do these things well, I know I can be successful as a freelance writer.

Capable at Writing in the English Language

As I said above, you don’t need to be an English expert to earn a full time living as a freelance writer. You only need to be good enough. Now, there are some people who shouldn’t be working as freelance writers. This includes people who have a poor understanding of the English language. There are quite a few foreign writers out there, writing articles for $5 or less a pop. Many of them have a poor grasp of English and need a lot of work before they should be writing for hire.


Marketing is the most important skill to have if you want to be a well paid freelancer. In fact, I’m not sure that skill is the right word to use here. I think that bravado might be a better term. You just have to have the guts to put yourself out there and let others know what you do and how it can help them.

Other than getting word out, marketing is all about positioning. The better you position yourself as an expert in the field of writing, the better rates you can command. This is where skill and experience really helps, which you can develop over time.

Meeting Client Expectations

If you can get your clients to like you they will be much more receptive to the idea of hiring you again. This is why it is important to meet deadlines and communicate with you clients. You should be able to understand their goals and deliver a product that fulfills those goals. Establishing expectations early on is critical in this respect, and the revision process will allow you to close the loop on this.

Getting Ideas Across in Writing

The last skill you need to be a successful freelance writer is the ability to get ideas across clearly in your writing. This is where the importance of clear and concise writing come into play.Writing that is redundant can be confusing to the reader. As long as you can get a message across decently well, you can get professional rates for your freelance writing.

And that’s it.

None of these skills require expertise. You only have to be able to do these things moderately well and you can make a full-time living as a writer. That is all it takes to be able to get work at professional rates.

You don’t need to languish at $5 for 500 words until you master these skills. In fact, you can charge 10 times that if you can do all of these things at a basic level.

So what does it really take to be a well paid freelance writer? You just have to put yourself out there and charge what you’re worth.

4 comments to What Does It Take To Be a Well Paid Freelance Writer?

  • Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for putting it across in such a concise and simple way. It is true….decent writing is not like advanced neurophysics…. you don’t need to be an Einstein to communicate information. And yes, it is worth a decent wage.


    • Thanks for you comment, Terri.

      Of course, being able to write well is certainly a component, but unless you can market yourself and your ability write well you won’t be able to find the work that is available.

  • Have you considered including some social bookmarking links to these sites. At the very least for myspace.

  • Daniel,

    It’s always nice to come across someone who shares similar thoughts to me. I cringe when I come across a site where simple things like grammar and even spelling could be solved by checking work first. In this day and age it isn’t hard to spell check and put your best work forward.
    Best of success with the writing journey

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