I'm supposed to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of my town's writing group. I was on the board for a while and was one of the earliest members. I'm not sure if I'm going to be asked to speak or anything, but if I do, I'm going to share this bit of wisdom:
The most important virtue for a freelance writer is patience.
Oh, I know there are other important qualities needed: the ability to be your own boss and motivate yourself, marketing and networking and interview skills, etc. But I thoroughly belief that impatient people can't succeed in this business (Veruca Salt would not be a good freelancer. "But Daddy, I want it NOW!")
We send out query letters and letters of introduction and manuscripts, but rarely do editors reply instantly. Sometimes they do, and when they do, we tend to celebrate because it is such a rare thing. Mostly we wait. Hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Years. Sometimes we wait so long we forget that we sent something in the first place. We send something that one editor files away but a new editor finds and likes.
Then when we do get an assignment, we wait for contracts and directions; after the assignment we wait for approval or revisions. Finally, we wait (and wait) for the check.
Perhaps that's why content mills are so appealing to many fledgling writers. From what I hear, content mills will accept more quickly than more traditional outlets and pay regularly, even if they don't pay much.
Freelancing is wonderful in so many ways. You can make or break your own destiny. Just don't expect destiny to be in any hurry to greet you.