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Talent Isn’t Everything: 5 Secrets to Freelance Success

So you think you want to be a freelancer? A pro shares some tips for success.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

April 30, 2012 - 10:56 am

 

#5 – Talent isn’t everything

Maybe you’ve won some writing awards. Maybe you’ve read a magazine article or an employee newsletter and thought: “Heck, I could do better than that.”

Maybe you’re right.

That’s not enough.

It’s likely that the magazine editor assigned that article to a merely competent writer –  who also filed the story early, met the requested word count, and made all the changes the editor demanded without complaint.

People like to work with… people they like to work with.

Now, coming from me, that’s pretty rich.

One of the reasons I’m a freelance writer is that, frankly, I don’t “play well with others.” I am too introverted, tactless, demanding, opinionated, and “masculine” to fit in with today’s feminized workplace — a pink and purple extravaganza of giggling, weekly birthday parties, crying-in-the-bathroom, “diversity training,” “team building,” and boring baby pictures/anecdotes — everything, it seems, except actual work.

And today, “fitting in” with the company “culture” (of bridal showers and non-stop conversations about food and “stupid husbands”) is prioritized over competence and intelligence.

Yet somehow, even a curmudgeon like me can manage to remain polite, helpful, and engaged for the length of that email or phone call with a client.

So just imagine how impressed they’ll be with a genuinely nice person like you!

You may be the finest prose stylist in the English language, and a veritable font of creative ideas. You may be an expert in your field, or a clever, well-read generalist.

However, if — just as an example — you bitch (aloud) when a client decides they want to change back to the version they just changed yesterday (and the day before that), your clients and editors will tire of your diva-dom (yes, to them, you’re the diva…) and replace you with a mediocre yet reliable writer instead.

Temperament matters as much as talent, if not more so.

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