Maybe you have a blog with lots of followers. Or maybe someone\u2019s told you that you write well. Either way, you know you have potential. It\u2019s time to bring it to the next level, and finally make money out of your God-given gift. Hold up \u2013 before venturing into writing as a professional career, here\u2019s some advice from an editor. "Oh, are you having a parade? It would be a shame if something happened to it..." Make sure you have the basics First off, like any other professional skill, you need to get your basics right. You need to know the difference between \u2018your\u2019 and \u2018you\u2019re\u2019, know when to add commas, and know how to use the appropriate tenses. I say this from experience, after having edited more than a hundred articles from different writers. As a rule, I try to be as inclusive as possible \u2013 I want to give every writer a chance. But that\u2019s come back to bite me in the ass before. We\u2019ve hired writers who didn\u2019t quite have the basics, and, oh my god, editing their work was like being tied up and being forced to listen to a 10-hour loop of Despacito. "Des, pa, ci-" NOOOO We\u2019re not talking about a rogue grammatical error \u2013 everyone does that, myself included. This writer was consistently bad at\u00a0everything. There was a mistake in each line, and I had to spend several hours editing their work. It would have been much easier to re-write the article entirely. Lina Esa, editor of CLEO, agrees. \u201cFirst off, you need to know your basics. Literally. You need to know the English language like it's your #bae or whatever. And you'll be surprised at how many aspiring writers don't know how to spell, use the right tense, or proper grammar or syntax. YOU WILL BE SURPRISED.\u201d Seriously, you will. You must understand \u2013 the people paying for your writing aren\u2019t running a writing class. They\u2019re commercial institutions, which means that every second spent correcting your writing is costing them money. The final cost of your article isn\u2019t just what the company paid you, it\u2019s also how much time they spent editing your work. If you want someone to pay you for your writing, make sure it\u2019s not costing them extra just to get it right. Check your ego at the door I\u2019ve edited articles by writers who were previously writing for so-and-so publication or was editor of this so-and-so magazine. Because of their previous experience, they felt entitled to their writing. They got so defensive over every little edit to their work. See, bad writing by itself isn\u2019t a problem for me \u2013 I can always correct a writer and tell them what their mistakes are and where to improve. But a writer who\u2019s convinced that he\/she is\u00a0the shit? There\u2019s just no talking to that. In their minds, your criticism is a personal attack. Every correction you make on their work is countered with \u201cYeah, but\u2026\u201d It\u2019s exhausting. Being a professional writer isn\u2019t about being the best \u2013 it\u2019s about learning. When\u00a0money is involved, you\u2019ll usually be working with professionals in the field who know what they\u2019re doing. When they tell you what\u2019s wrong with your writing, chances are they\u2019re right. Learn from it. Before this, I was one of these egoistic writers too. I had a blog, and I had people commenting that my writing was good. So, when I got one of my first clients, I knew I was going to rock his world. "Did you pack a parachute?" "Neah, I didn't. I'm just THAT good." Spoiler alert - I didn\u2019t rock his world. On my first assignment, he commented that my sentences were too long and complex. He said that if he published it, his readers would read the first sentence, get bored, and never come back to the site. I was crushed, but I didn\u2019t take it personally. I made shorter, simpler sentences, and broke my article into smaller paragraphs. He ended up keeping me, and I\u2019ve been on payroll ever since. It was only later, after almost a year of running my own content platform, that I realised he was right. As editor of IRL, I can see which articles do better, and it\u2019s typically those with simpler language and shorter paragraphs. So, when you become a professional writer, don\u2019t bring your ego with you. When someone says your writing sucks, don\u2019t get offended. Try to understand why they say that and improve your craft. Lina had a similar advice to give. \u201cTry, practice, refine your craft, and ACCEPT CRITICISM. I started out as a terrible writer. I know that. But it took a lot of practice, slogging, and trying. I was told by lecturers that my English was weak. ENGLISH IS MY FIRST LANGUAGE. But I took the advice, I asked for feedback, how to improve, and spoke privately with my tutors. Read a lot, and NOT BLOGS. Read proper news outlets and publications. Read books.\u201d Amin, sister! Become professional by being professional Here\u2019s one of the biggest differences between the professional and the amateur \u2013 accountability. Once someone pays you for your craft, they\u2019re hiring you for a service. It\u2019s your job to deliver what you promised on time. All the romantic notions of being a writer \u2013 waiting for inspiration, creating art, taking your time to produce \u2018perfection\u2019 \u2013 you\u2019ve got to drop them like it\u2019s hot. Take it from these famous writers. (Source: Giphy.com) When you become a professional writer, meeting the deadline is the most important thing. A website can\u2019t launch without the copy. A campaign doesn\u2019t run without the tagline. A content platform doesn\u2019t work without articles. As editor, I can say from experience that a mediocre writer who meets deadlines is much more valuable than a good writer who doesn\u2019t. I\u2019ve mentioned before, that IRL aims to produce about one article per day. We run a tight schedule, and I need our writers to hand in their work on time. If they miss their deadline, I either have to a) rush an article, or b) replace it with an article from another writer. That in turn messes up their timeline, triggering a chain-reaction of missed deadlines. Not producing an article is simply not an option. Doing that means our traffic might dip, and advertisers are going to want to know why. \u201cBecause our writer(s) were busy that day,\u201d just doesn\u2019t cut it. That goes for every other commercial institution too. They\u2019re paying you to deliver a good product on time. If there\u2019s any part of that sentence you can\u2019t fulfil, then you\u2019re not a professional. Write for your readers Here\u2019s another way I can instantly tell the difference between the amateur and professional writer. The amateur writes for themselves \u2013 the professional writes for the audience. In simpler terms, amateur writers write what they want to write. They couldn\u2019t care less about the audience. Their writing ends up being understandable only to themselves and often ends up being just plain bad. Much like this movie. Professionals understand what their work is trying to achieve. For example, a content writer\u2019s job is to entertain readers and pull traffic to their site. To do that, it must first make sense to the audience. They\u2019re always asking, \u201cWill people read this? Would they get it?\u201d If you\u2019re going to be a professional writer, you\u2019ve got to figure that out too. What\u2019s the point of your writing? What\u2019re you trying to achieve? Here\u2019s what Lina had to add, \u201cThink of yourself as a storyteller. You're the conduit in which you're telling a story of someone's life or sending a message through to your reader. You are not writing for your ego.\u201d Less is more Professional writing is about communication. Companies pay you to communicate an idea or a message to the intended audience. In today\u2019s world, you don\u2019t have the luxury of time. There\u2019s about a billion other things trying to compete for your readers\u2019 attention. Chances are, you have a very small window to deliver that message. Professional writers must be brief. They\u2019ve got to communicate their ideas in as few words as possible. Whether you\u2019re writing a slogan or a script, you\u2019ve got to practice delivering your ideas efficiently. Online readers are different than traditional novel readers. They skim through a sentence, sucking up useful points and ideas. Writing words like \u2018nepenthe\u2019 instead of \u2018tequila shots\u2019 just makes your work a bitch to read. Lina agrees with this too. \u201cYou don't need a lot of words to put across a point. Don't use words you don't know. Be concise -- it's more powerful. And if you're in the right context, you can even use Insta-speak. It can make your copy buzzy and easier to read. But know your audience, K?\u201d And that\u2019s it! Five tips on how to be a professional writer from editors. If you\u2019re feeling up to the challenge, why not write for us? We\u2019re always looking for new freelance writers. E-mail your resume to us at email@example.com or simply visit our submissions page to submit an article. For more articles on how to be a writer, read I\u2019ve Just Finished SPM and I Want to Be a Writer in Malaysia \u2013 Where Do I Start? Here\u2019s How, and How I Quit My Five-Figure Salary Job To Become A Travel Writer.