So You Want To Be a Freelance Writer? You Need These Soft Skills…

Not everyone has the self-motivation to become a freelance writer. Self-employment is not for everyone. You need a hell of a lot of self-discipline. You also need to break several mindsets when moving from working for somebody else to becoming a freelancer.

Soft skills are what every employer looks for. Because it’s something businesses feel they have lost in the drive for qualifications, experience and certification, there is now a greater demand for such useful transferable skills. Working as a freelancer also means the need for transferable skills. Here are those that you simply cannot live without in this job.



Not the most important, but when it comes to negotiation you will not get very far without it. You will have clients (especially from those in countries where bartering is commonplace) attempt to knock your prices down. They will attempt to get a discount for bulk work. They may also expect a discount and demand that you prioritise their work. You need the backbone not to let people walk all over you.


Flexibility means that terms “I don’t get paid enough to do that”, “I can’t do that, I’m going home in five minutes” and “I don’t know how and I don’t want really to learn” are no longer part of your vocabulary. You are going to need to learn to do a lot of things. You will be your own accountant, marketing executive, public face, admin assistant and tea maker. But more than that, flexibility means the desire to keep your fingers in as many proverbial pies as possible to keep clients happy.


Of course you are going to have communication skills, you are a writer. But there is more to being a freelance content writer than simply the ability to string a sentence of English together. Communication is about professionalism. It’s about how you say it as much as it is about what you say. Each audience will require a different style and tone. Each audience will require difference approaches to language use. Good communication is at the heart of getting work and how you conduct yourself will colour how your clients and potential clients see you.

Decision Making

You can’t pass it up the chain because there no longer is a chain. You can’t ask advice of your colleagues or your boss because there is nobody to ask. Sure, you have websites like mine, and no doubt you will find answers to your questions somewhere in the blogosphere. But ultimately, the decision is yours to make and yours to own. You are responsible not just for the successes, but the failures. That is as empowering as it is a source of apprehension.

The Ability to “Take It On The Chin”

Which brings me to failure. You can’t expect endless streams of adoration. You can’t expect every contract to go exactly as you want it to go. You can’t expect every client to be so enamoured with your work that they will sign a life-long contract to only use you for their content or copy. It doesn’t work like that. You need to understand your own failings and limitations and you need to be able to take criticism, because hell knows you are likely to receive a lot of it. Some of it will be from unreasonable and demanding clients, but not all.


This particularly applies in how you are going to market yourself. You will need to learn how to take a good photograph. You will need to learn some flexibility in your promotional material, and that means greater creativity. You won’t necessarily have to design web banners, but it helps to be able to put something like that together. It means creativity in your thinking in how you approach problems in your work, such as having too much or too little work.


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