A freelance writer is, ultimately, a small business owner. Many of the same ideas that apply to any sort of small business apply to the business of freelance writing. Small businesses need to be concerned about sales, marketing, branding, and profits; so do freelance writers. Small businesses have clients, not employers; so do freelance writers. Freelance writing is, without a doubt, one form of small business.
One of the core qualities necessary for success as a small business owner is self-discipline; it is the same for the freelance writer. Successful freelance writers have the self-discipline to do what needs to be done, on a daily basis, to produce quality work and to sell that work.
Making a living from your writing requires you to produce a certain volume of writing suited to a specific market. If you want to freelance for newspapers, for example, you need to be adept at writing news stories. You need to write news as often as you can, submit that work to newspaper publishers, and then follow up with them afterwards. You have to be disciplined enough to knock on some doors, make some phone calls, and find papers that will accept your writing.
The same holds true for the freelance writer who writes on the Internet. If you want to make it as a freelance writer on the internet, you need the self-discipline to write quality content every day. You need to have the self-discipline to look for writing clients every day, too. Sometimes you will spend an entire day on freelance writing web sites, e-mailing webmasters in your particular areas of expertise, and contacting former clients to see if they have any new work for you. This is true whether you are writing for a site like Helium where you earn recurring income on your writing or whether you write content only for specific client web sites.
Freelance writers also need to be disciplined in other ways. If you commit to a deadline for a client, you need to do whatever you can to meet it. Nothing will destroy your freelance writing career quicker than a reputation for being habitually late. Freelance writers also need to be disciplined about doing their market research, so they know what sorts of writing will sell and which won’t. They also need to be disciplined about their business management practices, keeping track of receipts, tax paperwork and other items.
Self-discipline is the fuel that keeps the freelance writing machine humming along.