Freelance Writing Success: How do You Define It?

What do you consider "success" when it comes to your freelance writing career? I mean, is the fact that you're a full-time freelance writer enough to make you successful? Are you a success when you can pay the bills? Are you a successful writer as soon as you land your first paying gig? What makes you feel like a success (or what would make you feel like one)?

What Freelance Writing Success is to Me:

Perhaps I have a funny way of looking at it - I don't really think there is one "success" as a freelance writer.

Instead, I try to look at all of the little successes along the way.

It's definitely about more than the money (although that certainly comes into play). During my first three years (when my income was from both PR consulting and freelance writing), my income doubled year over year repeatedly. That certainly doesn't feel like failure, but at the same time I never really said to myself "Hey, I'm a successful writer now, so I can just settle into my routine and be happy where I am." Instead, I keep saying "How much better can I do next year?"

I don't meet all of the goals I set for myself. I don't think any of us really do - if they're all easy to achieve, what's the point in setting them? Yet, I don't feel like I'm unsuccessful when I fail at reaching a goal in my freelance writing career. Instead I feel like I learned something about my abilities, my passions, and how much that particular goal really did, or didn't, mean to me in the grand scheme of things. At the same time, reaching a goal doesn't make me think "yay, I'm a successful writer" either.

For me, it's all about growing and changing and being able to get up every morning thinking "I am one lucky chickie to be doing something I love this much." Not everyone is as lucky as me (or you). I feel like a success because I know what I want in the long run, and I'm willing to fight for that - I started literally with nothing. It was hard to get things going in the beginning. A lot of people would have quit. I had something to prove - both to myself and to everyone who told me I couldn't do it. What can I say? I love proving people wrong! When I talk to them now, I feel successful. I love my work, it pays the bills, and continually grows and challenges me (throughout my entire life I don't think anything has been able to upset me more than being bored due to lack of a challenge).

I think as long as it keeps me fulfilled (and yes, that does include being able to keep on paying the bills, at least as a part of the equation), I'll still feel successful as a freelance writer even during the high and low points. I don't need to earn a certain dollar amount. I don't need to first publish a book. I don't need to write for a certain client. I just need to be stable and happy.

What do you need?

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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2 thoughts on “Freelance Writing Success: How do You Define It?”

  1. You’re right, it’s not just the money (although it doesn’t do any harm).

    For me it’s the variety of the work and the ability to take the skill into many different forms from commercial copywriting through to fiction.

    Currently I’m taking a sabbatical to concentrate on a range of general interest e-books I’m self publishing with So far it’s the most interesting, fun thing I’ve done and yet I hadn’t even considered it a year ago. Funny how these things turn out

    Elaine Saunders

  2. I do consider myself a success. I am not a cubicle slave. While I’m not rich, I pay my bills doing what I love to do.

    I didn’t cave to this “niche” crap — I can write on almost any topic, follow anything that interests me and get paid for it.

    I’m happy most of the time.

    I’m moving closer to my long-term goals by meeting short-term goals.

    I have a well-rounded life and am not chained to my desk.

    So, to me, that fits my definition of success.


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