Can you make money as a writer? Yes. I have been a freelance writer for over 10 years and have not starved yet. Let’s look at what you need to be a successful freelance writer.
1. Read every day. If you want to be a writer, you need to read and then read some more. Think of an artist, a painter who never studies any painting. He never goes to the art museum, never looks at other paintings to see how they use composition, shading, perspective, colors. This same concept applies to writing. How do writers use words, create tension, grab the reader’s attention? These are basic concepts you cannot learn without studying other writers.
2. Write every day. My last three books: Collisions at Home, The Baseball Poems of Philip Theibert, The Blockbuster Book of Brain Expanding, Creativity Enhancing, Writing Exercises and Potato Chip Economics were written one day at a time. As the classic advice goes – write something every day and put it in a shoebox. When that shoebox is full, you have a book.
3. Network. Obvious as it may sounds, people are not going to come knocking on your door asking you to write for them. One of the best ways to network is join your local chapter of International Association of Business Communicators ( IABC) or your local chapter of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The people who attend these meetings are professional communicators and outsource many writing jobs ranging from speeches, to brochures, to press releases, to position pages, to web content… well you get the idea.
4. Build a Portfolio. I have been a PR Director for an ad agency and a Marketing Director for a publishing company. And I interviewed many candidates looking for writing jobs. I don’t care where you graduated from. I want to see if you can write. The first thing I will ask for is your writing portfolio. If you are a college student work on the college newspaper, be a stringer for the local paper, work on the college literary journal, get internships with ad agencies, corporate communication departments. All of these jobs will help you build a writing portfolio when you go seeking that first writing job.
5. Develop a Niche. Become known for a specialty. For instance, I used to be a corporate speechwriter. When I went freelance, I developed a webpage that promoted the CEOs I had written for and that contained sample speeches. Now, much of my business comes from speech writing. In short, if you are good at writing web content, make that your niche. And go after it aggressively.
Finally, it is not easy being a freelance writer. Above all you must have faith in yourself and your writing ability. Do not let rejection get you down. I have been writing for a long time and I realize that 50 percent of the people will like your writing and 50 percent won’t. Writing is very subjective – just keep faith in yourself, keep banging those keys and be aggressive in your marketing. You will succeed.