Have you ever wondered why editors often give the majority of their freelance assignments to a select group, or stable, of freelance writers? The answer is obvious. These writers have the traits those editors look for in writers. If you can develop the same traits, you, too, can be of regular use to editors. This week, let’s review five winning personality traits that successful freelancers possess.
- Endurance. You must have the tenacity to see an assignment through to the end. Some assignments can get tedious, perhaps even boring, but you must always honor your promise to deliver a finished manuscript.
- Versatility. Can you cover hard news, write features, conduct interviews, report on meetings, do legwork research, and take photographs? If so, you can handle virtually any available assignment. Keep in mind that the more you are capable of doing, the more chances an editor will have to seek your services. Always continue to expand your writing and other skills.
- Initiative. You must be a self-starter who needs a minimum amount of direct supervision. Editors expect you to be a confident and independent worker. Remember that your job is to relieve an editor of work, not to provide new burdens.
- Sensitivity. You must have tact and patience in order to deal with people effectively, whether you are interviewing them, asking them for information, or simply trying to explain to them why you need a statement “for the record.” Good writers are people-oriented and know how to empathize with other people’s concerns and needs.
- Integrity. It is not enough just to report the news accurately. It also must be presented without bias. You must tell both sides of the story, present all pertinent information, and offer an honest overview of any circumstance. Telling the whole truth about half the facts is slanted reporting. Responsible editors cannot condone this.
Adapted from Writing for Profit by Dennis E. Hensley (Thomas Nelson, 1985; revised 2003). At Taylor University in Upland, IN, Dr. Hensley helps students in the Professional Writing Major develop traits that will bring them success as freelance writers. © 2011 by Dennis E. Hensley. All rights reserved.