Getting Started as a Freelance Writer
You love to write. You journal, you blog, you dazzle your friends and confound your enemies with your written wit and wisdom. How do you take that next step and get paid for your writing?
Read, read, read. One inevitable truth about writers is that they are also readers. You devour romance novels. You trawl the internet for well-written humor pieces by your favorite writers. You are addicted to clear, concise how-to articles. Keep reading! What you love to read is likely a natural for you to write. Read what love and, if you’ve never tried writing in that style or genre, give it a go.
Research. Don’t stop there, though. Research freelance writing. Find out the best markets for selling your work. Subscribe to sources that provide information on markets for freelancers. Don’t just concentrate on trying to sell to magazines you know or websites you love; look into opportunities you never dreamed existed. My breakthrough opportunity came when I submitted an essay for “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2” as a result of a listing on an online freelance market website. The essay was published and then reprinted in a major women’s magazine. I got paid twice for the article and I’ve never been shy about referring to it when I’m seeking a new writing job.
Get disciplined. So far you’ve written when the urge strikes. You’ve written what you want, when you want. If you want to get paid for your freelance work, you need to buckle down and get disciplined. Make time for your writing, even if it means giving up some couch-potato time or waking up a little earlier to make time to write. Set productivity goals for yourself. If you need to, make a note on the calendar and an appointment with yourself to do what you need to do to get published and paid.
Get rejected. Probably a lot. Unfortunately, the life of the paid writer is paved with rejection. It’s not a question of when your work will be rejected, it’s a question of how often. Frequently these rejections come because the work is just not quite up to the standards of the publication or website that you’re targeting. Sometimes it has nothing at all to do with you or your work. Sometimes the editor has just purchased a piece on the same topic but it hasn’t come out yet. Sometimes the publication folds. A rejection of your work is not a rejection of you, so keep putting yourself and your work out there and trust in the process. You’ll know you’re getting close when you get personal attention from the editor rather than a form letter, even if it’s a brief email saying “We don’t take first-person stories. Try again, though.” Take any personal encouragement as a victory at first. Don’t give up.
Promote yourself. Post links to your stuff on social media. Don’t be shy. Use your blog to promote your work. Get samples of your writing out there and don’t wait for the world to beat a path to your doorstep. No one has a vested interest in your success like you do!
You can take the step from being a writer to being a paid writer. I did it, and you can, too!