Monday, January 25, 2016

Why Every Writer Should Freelance

By C. Hope Clark

Let’s say you’re working on a book. It engulfs you, dominates your every waking hour. This story is the reason you became a writer. Problem is, it’ll take you at least a year to write, edit, and publish, assuming you indie publish, but if you go the traditional route, expect two to three. How are you supposed to pay the bills in the interim?

Every single writer should know how to freelance.

A solid writer should be able to write just about any gig in the freelance arena. Magazine features, blog posts, corporate copywriting, and journalistic pieces. All it takes is a firm grasp of the language and craft, and a writer’s eye for a storyline. If you’re writing a book, you already profess to have that hand’s down under your belt. So why not write short nonfiction pieces, anywhere from 500 to 5,000 word pieces, for editors of periodicals and websites?

And no, you don’t have to write for free to break in, one of the largest myths in the industry. There are ample markets out there paying ten cents/word up. There are plenty of others who don’t and they often make the most noise when seeking writers, but hold out. You want to respect yourself. Don’t forget, this freelance effort is to subsidize your effort to write that novel, so you cannot afford to give it away.

Where to find the gigs:

1) Run a search for “magazine writers guidelines;”
2) Purchase a current year’s Writer’s Market, published by Writer’s Digest Books;
3) Subscribe to writing sites like: Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Gigs, Funds For Writers, The Write Life, Writers Market and World Wide Freelance.
4) Subscribe to job finding sites like Indeed, Simply Hired, and especially LinkedIn.. Consider the paid subscription with Linkedin for the best opportunities.

But how do you get started? Where do the ideas come from? First learn how to query or pitch at sites likeThe Renegade Writer and Make A Living Writing. Your query is the first introduction between you and the editor. Make it powerful. It even doesn’t matter that you haven’t freelanced before as long as the idea is solid and a good match for the editor’s needs.

For instance, I once pitched a piece to Landscape Management Magazine because a landscaper came to my door to talk to me about my yard after I’d built a new house. He treated me like a “little lady of the house” and assumed I knew nothing about grass, plants, or irrigation. After I let him finish his spiel, I informed him I had a degree in Agronomy, aka plant science. He was mortified, but I let him start over and talk to me on a different level and we did fine. Immediate after he left, I pitched the piece to the magazine with no mention of my writing experience. All they saw was Agronomy degree and the story idea. They paid $150 for 500 words, thirty minutes after I pitched it. Keep a notebook because ideas will come at you from nowhere. Look at the world as if it were nothing but story material. Your silly daily experiences will prompt remarkable angles and spins on very simple topics.

Also, start pitching local, soliciting the regional and local publications in your area. Editors prefer local. Your dentist, real estate agent, nursery, bakery, or local diner may do a newsletter once a month, too. Offer to write for them, or even offer to create and deliver said newsletter. Same goes for nonprofits and charities. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and become the only freelance writer in the membership and watch the requests come in.

You may think you’re shortchanging your book. Just remember that freelancing not only provides interim income as you write your novel, but it also hones your writing skills. Every word you write, edit and publish helps you climb that ladder to becoming a more polished, entertaining and marketable writer. And your novel will thank you in the end.

C. Hope Clark is founder of FundsforWriters.com, selected for Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 15 years. Her weekly newsletter reaches 35,000 readers. But to show Hope practices what she preaches, she is also an award-winning mystery author of two series, the sixth release due out Summer 2016. She continues to freelance, produce newsletters, write novels and speak at two or three dozen venues per year.
 C. Hope Clark
 Funds For Writers

25 comments:

Just Keepin It Real, Folks! said...

This is such an interesting article. I have always thought about freelance writing, but had no earthly idea how to get started. Thank you for the guidance and advice.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex - what a great guest you have here today. Wonderful to read her ideas and thoughts on getting started freelance writing, especially if one has never done anything like it before.

It's like marketing - give it a go .. you have to spread your own wings and then life gets easier in those areas ... you learn and appreciate as you go -

cheers to you both - excellent post - Hilary

Christine Rains said...

Excellent advice. I really should do more freelancing. Though writing nonfiction does make me nervous! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks again for sharing such great advice, Hope!

Pat Hatt said...

I did some freelance before but some of it is soooooooooooo boring. Like writing legal articles, ugg lol

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Smart of you to capitalize on your degree. I'm sure that salesman wanted to wither up and die when you told him.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think about this often but I never quite do it. There are tons of markets out there for freelancing. Maybe Hope will inspire me to get off my butt and give it a try.

Linda Kay said...

Great advice Alex, and we do need a break from our writing of novels on occasion. And if a writing gets accepted, you can add it to your credentials as a writer.

diedre Knight said...

Excellent post! I think of freelancing quite often but lose steam when researching where to submit. If every little bit of exposure helps, imagine what a big break would do! :-)

L.G. Keltner said...

I've thought about freelancing, but I've been too insecure to try so far. I really should push myself to try it.

Hope Clark said...

Actually, it can be addictive! You learn even more how to go through life with a writer's eye, because articles are everywhere. While I agree writing legal articles would be a drag, writing my article on landscaping was not. When talking with TURF magazine about a piece on irrigation, I think I took one interview and made four articles out of it, too. Nice little chunk of change there. It's quite fun once you see all the opportunity.

cleemckenzie said...

Freelancing is exciting and it can mean money in your pocket. I like being able to re-use material by plucking from one article to create a new one. That saves a lot of time and I get to go deeper into a subject.

Enjoyed reading your post.

Karen Lange said...

Nice to see you here, Hope! Thanks so much for the ideas and encouragement.

Hope Clark said...

If I didn't love novels so much, I'd freelance fulltime as I used to do. No two days are alike and there is so much material!

Nicola said...

Great post. I think the key is perseverence. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

Shadow said...

Solid advice.

Sharon Himsl said...

So encouraging.Thanks!

authorcgcoppola.com said...

Great article. Thanks for all the info and encouragement :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Excellent post! Your advice is so needed. Thanks for taking the time to share these pointers with us.

Sheersa Manna said...

Your post was so helpful. People out here really need a good piece of advice like this. Thanks for sharing. I'm a novice in this field and it would really mean a lot me if you visit my blog too! "My Lemon Hues" http://mylemonhues1.blogspot.in/.
Thank you!

Robert Bennett said...

Great points and kind of reassuring that this had kind of been my goal for a while now.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! This is an incredibly helpful article. I've been considering trying freelance work but didn't know where to start.
Thank you!

SlimExpectations said...

And, I just wrote about being a writer today ;)

Michelle Wallace said...

A while back, I signed up on a freelancing site. I'm building a profile and I'll take it from there.

Jen Chandler said...

This is a wonderful article! Thank you so much for the direction and the run down. I've been seriously considering freelancing but, like others have already mentioned, I wasn't sure how to start. The ideas are there, I just needed some direction. Thank you! ~ Jen