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4 Things Successful Freelancers Know

Many of us have bought into the “freelancer lifestyle”.

We dream of glamor and luxury, all the while doing very little; you know, the 20 hour work weeks and thousands of dollars monthly, as well as the ability to wake up whenever you want to, work whenever you want to and travel the world?

I’m not saying that the “freelancer lifestyle” is a myth, but I’ve been in this game long enough to learn some of the principles of success; in short, it is not as simple as most people would want you to believe.

Here are things successful freelancers know.

things successful freelancers know

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1. Work Ethic is Important

I got lucky and became a freelancer before I turned 18, you know… at that age when I was still a kid and a part of me wanted to have fun.

I’m not the partying type, but watching movies nonstop for days is no big deal to me.

I’ve also had periods where I decided that, no matter what, I’ll work all day non-stop for weeks or months.

I’ve realized over the years that there is a reward for commitment and solid work ethic; my freelancing business is most prosperous when I’m most focused on my business, and I’ve lost a lot of clients due to my lack of professionalism during periods when all I did was watch movies at the detriment of my business.

The key to success as a freelancer is to have solid work ethic, seeing your freelancing business as a real job and putting in similar efforts to make it a success.

So, yes, have fun but don’t sacrifice your work ethic while doing so.

2. Always be Marketing

If you hate marketing, or if you struggle with marketing, you’d most likely struggle to be more than a mediocre freelancer.

The most successful freelancers I know of are great marketers; in fact, they are more marketers than freelancers.

Marketing doesn’t necessarily equate being sleazy, and something as basic as asking a satisfied client to refer someone that might need your services is still marketing.

I was experimenting with cold pitching last Friday evening and, after preparing a strategy, it took me around 2 hours to pitch approximately 20 businesses; that very evening, one of the businesses I pitched responded with strong interest in my services and commissioned me to start working on two initial articles; I quoted the client $.25 per word, and I’m estimating the initial project will lead to at least $500 in income; potentially 4 – 5 figures on the long run.

This was all from 2 hours of work, and from cold pitching 20 businesses on a Friday evening; I’m sure more will reply later this week, and it will lead to better opportunities.

My point is this: you only get clients when you market yourself’; whether it is by cold pitching, blogging for clients, asking for referrals, using freelance job boards, or using one of the other tactics in this article on getting clients, you have to be constantly marketing yourself.

3. Study to Show Thyself Approved

The importance of studying can’t be overstated.

In fact, recent research has revealed that studying/reading is a major advantage the rich have over the poor:

  • 85% of rich people read two or more education, career-related, or self-improvement books per month, compared to 15% of poor
  • 94% of rich people read news publications including newspapers and blogs, compared to 11% of poor people

This is no different when it comes to being a successful freelancer.

Believe me, marketing alone, or getting clients, won’t solve your problems; I have never really had problems getting clients to be interested in my services, but I’ve learned a ton on how to appreciate myself and recognize my value by reading and studying other successful freelancers.

By doing this, I slowly and steadily learned to upgrade my mindset from being a $.05 to $.10 per word freelance writer to being a $.20 to $.50+ per word freelance writer.

The change in mindset alone, gained by studying other freelancers, has been worth six figures, and a lot of freedom I would have otherwise spent doing “compulsory” work, to me.

Read freelancer sites and blogs, read ebooks designed to make you a successful freelance writer, enroll in courses and programs that will give your career a boost, and do not hesitate to connect with and learn from other freelancers to up your game, even if it will cost you.

Knowledge indeed is power.

4. Keep Yourself Motivated

We are motivated by different things, and when Zig Ziglar said that motivation is like taking a bath and that we need it daily, he wasn’t exaggerating.

By carefully observing my most successful and prosperous periods as a freelancer, I’ve realized that I’m most successful when I’m most motivated.

Even when things are not going fine, being motivated ensures I see it as just a challenge and keep pushing; as a result, I double and triple my effort if that’s what it takes to get results.

Without motivation, though, temporary setback cripples me and keeps me in fear, significantly affecting my career until I can regain my motivation.

We’re motivated by various things; for some of us, it is our kids and spouses, and the kind of life we want to provide for them while being constantly available. For some, it is what we can achieve with the freedom and income from a successful freelance career. For others, it is simply money.

It doesn’t matter what your motivation is, you’ll need a lot to succeed as a freelancer.


It takes a lot to succeed as a freelance writer, and taking quality action should definitely not be underrated. However, in carefully studying successful freelancers, I have noticed they know, and are guided by, the above 4 principles.

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Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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