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How Freelance Writing Skills Made Me a Better Novelist

Almost a year ago, Krystal wrote a post that resonated with a lot of our readers: How to Actually Quit Your Job to Freelance.

Back then, she gave on-point practical advice based on her experience of transitioning out of a teaching career and into freelance writing.

Since we’ve last heard from Krystal, she has also fulfilled another dream: she is now a published author. In this week’s guest post, she shares how freelance writing helped her become a novelist.

Here’s Krystal Craiker!

I have always been a writer.

When I was younger, it was short stories and poetry. In college, I loved writing term papers. I would write fiction, but I never let anyone read it. In fact, most of my early adulthood stories are password-protected so they cannot be read even if I die.

But my dream has always been to write a novel.

Every time I tried, I just did not have enough words to do it. I would try and fail. In May 2013, I met my favorite author, Jacqueline Carey, at a panel for aspiring writers. I told her college had killed my creativity, and I just couldn’t write more than ten thousand words for a story.

Her advice?

Do some other type of writing until I find my voice.

Fast forward three years. I was desperately trying to find a way out of teaching. I found Horkey HandBook, and I blew through the 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success course in three days. Two months later, I informed my principal I would not be renewing my contract.

I love writing personal essays, and I like writing product descriptions.

But I had a story waiting to be written. I decided that being self-employed was the perfect time for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month happens every November. The goal is 50,000 words in a month. It’s crazy, it’s hectic, and it’s amazing.

If you want to write a novel, do NaNoWriMo.

My favorite author’s advice was fool-proof. My first novel, The Sage’s Consort, is steadily selling on Amazon.

And this is how freelance writing has given me the confidence and skills to write a novel.

1. Freelancing Put Me in the Habit of Writing Regularly.

Before freelancing, I would go whole months without writing. But now that people were paying me to write, I had to write a lot. I had to write daily. You can’t write a novel if you don’t write daily.

The more freelance writing I did, the more I began to think like a writer. I thought of pitches and story ideas constantly. My Google Keep app is full of lists of articles to pitch and stories to write.

I began to find inspiration everywhere, and I wrote about it.

Not sure what niches you can specialize in as a freelance writer? We’ve done some research and brainstorming for you, and we came up with over 200 niches to choose from. Here’s the list:

2. Freelancing Connected Me with Other Great Writers.

If you have taken the 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success course, you know how invaluable the Facebook group is. It remains my favorite, most supportive Facebook community.

Through that group, I have made amazing friends who have added me to other writing groups. I found my beta-readers through my online writing communities. I found people to talk out plot points and gripe to when I have writer-specific struggles.

The writer community is my tribe. I couldn’t have done this without them.

3. Freelancing Gave Me the Confidence to Pursue My Goals.

Freelancing is scary.

We have to regularly put ourselves out there and face rejection constantly.

How Freelance Writing Skills Made Me a Better NovelistWe often bare our souls through our writing – and then people read it! We regularly cycle through periods of self-doubt.

And yet, we do it anyway. Why? Because we are writers, and writing is our art.

I watched my articles on major traffic websites get shared over and over again. My clients were pleased with my work, and they recommended me, so I had people contacting me for work whom I had never met. I watched my resume grow more impressive every month.

I watched my bank account get deposits from writing!

Freelancing helped me find my voice and grow to love my writing. I don’t password-protect my work anymore. I don’t delete whole stories anymore.

Freelancing turned me from a writer into an author.

4. Freelancing Taught Me about Marketing

Did you know that 3 p.m. is the best time to post on Facebook during the week? Neither did I before I started freelancing. I had no need for that sort of information.

But freelance writing taught me about using social media for marketing. In one of my jobs, I had to promote every article I wrote through the company’s social media channels. I learned what worked and what didn’t.

Now, I use what I’ve learned on my public Facebook page. Pictures get more attention than posts without one.

Engage your public with questions. Hint at projects you’re working on.

5. Freelancing Taught Me about Self-Promotion.

Through freelance writing, I learned how to promote myself. I can meet people and tell them what I do. I am confident enough to drop my business card at new places. I have learned there is no substitute for face-to-face marketing.

I learned about SEO. I’m no expert, but I know how to use keywords and hyperlinks to bump my search engine rankings. The SEO skills I use for freelance writing help me write book blurbs and promote my book online.

I know there are many in the freelance community who have a novel inside of them waiting to come out. You’re already a writer. You have the skills and the passion. The world needs to hear your story.

Meanwhile, I will be working on Book 2.

Are there any other freelance writers turned novelists out there? How are you using your freelancing skills?

Krystal N. Craiker is a novelist and freelance writer with a background in anthropology and education. When she’s not stuck in the magical world of Elandria, you can find her playing board games, volunteering, sewing, and learning belly dance. Ms. Craiker resides in Texas with her two dogs and husband. You can buy her first novel, The Sage’s Consort, on Amazon. Check out her website and follow her on Facebook.

Gina Horkey

Gina Horkey


Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s the founder of Horkey HandBook and loves helping others find or become a kickass virtual assistant. Gina’s background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.

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