Credibility Tops Freelance Writer and Editor Wish List: 5 Ways to Boost Professional Credibility

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A recent survey of over 300 freelance writers and editors discovered that while freelance workers join professional associations for benefits such as networking, professional development, access to industry news, and other support services, the desire to establish a significant level of professional credibility trumps all.

Credibility as a committed professional

In an online survey of freelance writers and editors, conducted in January 2009, 86% of respondents rated "Credibility as a committed professional" as "Extremely Important" or "Important," outranking everything from networking to skill-building. The three-part survey, commissioned by the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (, provides an overview of the priorities and concerns of freelance workers. One experienced writer wrote of the frustration of trying to stand apart from the crowd, noting "These days everyone is a 'writer' -- but I have 30 years of experience and I'm not a twenty-something blogger. I need to know how to react to this huge shift in our industry...."

Because credibility is tied to everything-- getting work, setting rates, and presenting a freelance enterprise as a viable business, the surveyed writers and editors are right to value it highly. Factors that influence credibility often have less to do with the freelancer's skill than the client's perception. To build credibility, the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors offers five tips:

1- Write with professional care: Always be completely professional in your communications with clients and others. Use a business-like tone and style, and even after a friendly working relationship is established, maintain proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Typos will slip by the most careful writer, but strive to make them the exception, not the rule.

2- Behave with integrity: Do what you have promised, in the way that you promised, in the time you have promised. If a circumstance arises when you may not be able to meet a deadline, notify your client immediately and work out a new agreement. If you find that you've accepted a project that is beyond your skill level or out of your area of expertise, don't do a bad job. Go to the client and explain that you need to refer the work to a colleague who is better qualified. The client will respect you, and your colleague will thank you.

3- Join and network: Join one or more professional associations for networking and skill building. Get familiar with other members of your association so that you can refer work to one another when you have an overabundance, or are faced with a project that is outside your expertise. If you're a well-established freelancer, be willing to share your expertise with less-experienced members. This is networking at its best, and it can all happen online.

4- Learn, grow, and share: Continue your professional development, and let your clients know what you are doing. If you attend teleseminars or classes sponsored by your professional association, be sure to mention it in your client newsletter (you do send one, don't you?) so that your clients will be reminded that you maintain your skills and are constantly working to provide them with the best possible service.

5- Never complain: When you talk on the phone or meet in person, present yourself as a professional. Never be tempted to complain about an another client or assignment, because the person you're talking to will inevitably wonder what you say about him or her to other clients. You can't lose when you keep a pleasant, positive, professional attitude.

For additional information on the survey of freelance writers and editors, visit for a broader overview of the survey results.

About the Organization: The National Association of Independent Writers and Editors ( is a business-building professional association for literary and commercial freelancers. NAIWE sponsors the annual Words Matter Week, with free online seminars, a free e-book, a dues discount and more during the first full week in March. Learn more about the March 2-6, 2009 event at

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