Freelance Writers: What to Do While You're Waiting for Work

by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach

160419_boredWhether you're a new freelance writer anxious for your first assignment or a seasoned freelancer anticipating your next assignment, don't sit back and simply "wait" for work. Instead, take these steps:

1. Get at least a dozen queries, proposals, or complete manuscripts out there circulating. Many beginning freelancers tend to put "all their eggs in one basket." They finally manage to get one submission or query out, then they sit back and wait to see if it gets accepted. That's a mistake. You need to have at least a dozen things circulating at all times to increase your chances of getting new assignments or selling your manuscripts on a regular basis. Regular sales are what make a freelance writing business. Don't expect a single sale to launch your business or take your current business to the next level. Instead, strive to create a constant stream of work.

2. Keep improving your writing skills. You'll do this naturally to some degree if you get a dozen queries, proposals, or manuscripts out because you'll keep writing. And your writing skills will improve somewhat just from the quantity of writing you'll be producing since we all get better the more we write. But also take a writing course or two. And join a critique group and take an active part in the group.

Successful writers constantly work to get better and better at what they do. And they know that getting the feedback from a writing instructor and/or other published writers (as in a critique group) can be the key to finally landing assignments and getting acceptance letters.

3. Continue to network (both online and offline) with other writers and with potential clients. A critique group will give you the opportunity to network with other writers. But also join writer's groups, clubs, and other organizations. Other writers can answer questions you might have about writing and the business of writing. You'll also learn simply from observing what they do and how they do it.

Besides other writers, you also need to network with your target market - your potential clients. The people who need your writing services can't hire you until they know who you are and what you have to offer them, so get known among your target market.

Take these 3 steps while you're waiting for work and you won't be waiting long!

All the best,

suzanne-cover 016-2 Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She is a former classroom teacher and was an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature for over 8 years.

Lieurance has written over two dozen published books and her articles and stories have appeared in various magazines, newsletters, and newspapers, such as Family Fun, Instructor, New Moon for Girls, KC Weddings, The Journal of Reading, and Children's Writer to name a few. She offers a variety of coaching programs via private phone calls, teleclasses, listserv, and private email for writers who want to turn their love of writing (for children and/or adults) into a part-time or full-time career.

To learn more about Lieurance, visit her website at or


T. Forehand said...

These are great tips, and means no excuses for not working on your writing career everyday. Thanks for the advice, it is always solid and helpful.

From Mary's Pen said...

*nodnod* Yep, there's some solid truth here! Especially for beginning freelancers. These days I find I'm so busy I have to make time to seek out new projects and clients! :)

Karen Cioffi said...

Suzanne, great advice for freelancers. I love the new headshot and Florida background!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Suzanne, you forgot "Promote Your Business." Especially generally as opposed to pitching individual project. Well, maybe you didn't. "Working with potential clients" may count but marketing can be so much greater than than. I know YOU know, because you DO it! (-:

Magdalena Ball said...

Great suggestions Suzanne. Another thing you can do, which is more or less what Carolyn said, is to spend time getting your name out there - put up a few clips, refresh the bio and website (there are always tweaks), do promo, etc.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hey, Carolyn,

Yeah, I could have listed promote your business as a separate step, but I thought it would come under networking with other writers, clients, and potential clients. But newbies might not understand that, so thanks for pointing it out.

Kathleen Moulton said...

Hi Suzanne, thanks for the reminders!


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