Crafting a little niche for yourself as an online freelance writer is no easy feat. Competition is notoriously fierce and even when you snare a well-paying client, will you be able to keep them around long-term or will they flit away into the great unknown?

As someone who regularly works with freelance writers, I can definitely say that, along with impressive writing chops, certain qualities will take you a long way. Keen to find out more? Not really? Well, I’m going to share things with you anyway. Here are five abilities that every online freelance writer really should have:

The Ability to Meet Deadlines

An editor’s entire schedule may rely on external writers – every deadline a writer receives is indicative of a deadline that the editor has too. With a fair bit at stake, the editor is going to choose to work with someone they can trust, especially if they have projects requiring quick turnarounds. It’s a no-brainer.

The Ability to Communicate

Now, unless your editor is some sort of Darth Vader/Voldemort/Jekyll and Hyde/Miss Trunchbull/everyotherevilfictionalcharacterthatexists hybrid, they will understand if you can’t make the aforementioned deadlines. Whether it’s because you’re sick, underestimated how long it would take to do something, or spent hours playing Family Feud on your phone, sometimes you just CANNOT submit that piece of work on time.

Please, please, please, don’t leave the person on the other end in the dark, waiting desperately for their content. Fire up your computer or laptop, type a few measly lines and press ‘Send’. While inconvenient, it gives them time to quickly find someone else to do the job or grant you an extension.

The Ability to Process a Brief Quickly and Accurately

If you are working with a variety of clients, chances are you will receive briefs in a number of different formats, ranging from the impeccably detailed to the horrifically vague. A top-notch freelance writer will be able to quickly ascertain the vital details and ask the right questions, if need be. This process will get easier the more often you work with a particular client, but it is important to get things correct from the start.

The Ability to Receive and Implement Feedback

No matter how many times I prepare an email filled with constructive feedback, it’s always a little nerve-wracking, as you’re never quite sure how the receiver will, well, receive it. Freelance writers who are 100% gracious and open to constructive criticism are always easier to work with. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything put forth. You just need the tact and professionalism to outline your stance.

The Ability to Stand Out

In reality, if you are a gracious, punctual and communicative writer who is perceptive enough to nail writing briefs time and time again, you will automatically stand out. However, a little personality won’t go astray. Try to form friendly online working relationships with your clients – you’ll need to gauge what works best, whether it’s a bit of humour or a simple “How are you going?”. Depending on your client, this could make a really big difference. It’s all about leaving a positive lasting impression and being memorable.