On Being A Professional Writer…

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Let’s talk definitions today, shall we?

So what exactly does being a “professional” writer mean?

Many people talk about professional writing in terms of money. After all–isn’t that what most people think of when they hear those words? If you are making money at writing you are professional. Right?

Well…sort of.

Professional writing is also an attitude. Acting in a “business-like” manner is also a part of being a pro writer–whether you are getting paid, or doing an assignment for free. So what are some of these characteristics that would make one a pro in this regard?

  • Always turning assignments in on time–or early.
  • Checking facts and figures.
  • Following the directions for an assignment to the letter.
  • Returning e-mails promptly.
  • Anticipating customer needs.
  • Maintaining professional correspondence.

That last point is one I’d like to say a word or two about…

Maintaining professional correspondence means not getting to “friendly” with your client. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly. Just remember that your client is a client. Because of the nature of the web, sometimes the relationship may begin to feel less formal, but it doesn’t mean you should start e-mails with “Hey there” or assume that you can turn something in a day late because the editor likes you.

Do you have any “requirements” for people who use the professional writer moniker? Do tell!