If you want to be a freelance writer, it is time to stop dreaming and start launching your career. Beginning a freelance career can be relatively low-risk, especially if you have another source of income to support you while you get off the ground. Before you decide to launch your writing career, prepare yourself. Freelance writers, even those who have been in the business for years, deal with rejection on a regular basis.
You need a place to focus on your work and to write. Ideally, the workspace will be quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It can be a room in your house, a desk at your local library or a table at your favorite coffee shop. What matters most is that you can focus on your work while sitting there. Set aside a certain amount of time every day to focus on writing. For example, you can write in the two hours after dinner, while your children work on their homework. The time needs to be dedicated and firm.
Where to Find Work
Opportunities abound for writers, if you know where to look. The different types of publications are known as markets. You can find work through print markets, such as traditional newspapers and magazines, or through online markets. There is also business writing, copywriting and creative writing. You will need to do your research before breaking into any type of market. "Writer's Market" is a well-known freelance writer's resource. It publishes information on the writing guidelines for a range of publications. The resource is also available online for a fee. Free ways to find writing job leads include looking at classified ads and freelance job boards. You can also directly pitch an editor at a magazine or newspaper.
Every freelance writer needs a collection of clips, or writing samples. You don't necessarily need to be published to have a collection of samples. Write a few short pieces, between 300 and 500 words, to use as your samples. Your samples should put your best foot forward. If you plan on focusing on a specific area of writing, such as finance or food, prepare samples that showcase those subjects.
Perfecting the Pitch
Some places put out general calls for writers, meaning you send in a resume and samples and hope you are chosen. But, the pitch, or query letter, is what will land you the gig in most cases. When you write a pitch, you send your idea for an excellent article to an editor. Sending the pitch to the right person is the most important step. Do your research beforehand to find the name of the assigning editor at the publication and get her contact information. Your query should start with an engaging lead, or hook, to make the editor keep reading, according to Jenna Glatzer, author of "Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer." After you've hooked the reader, expand on your idea by explaining what you will do in the article, who you will interview and any other research you will perform. Editors what to want work with writers who will be easy and who will do the work without much prompting, according to Glatzer. It's your job to convey that in your query.
Freelance writers don't get to set their rates, according to Moira Anderson Allen in "Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer." Instead, the market they write in sets the rates. Rates for articles and stories varies significantly from market to market. Online, you might earn $15 for an article, while an article published in a magazine might pay you $1,000. Some places pay per word while others offer a flat rate. Allen recommends that beginning freelancers keep an hourly rate in mind. Determine what the lowest wage per hour you will work for is, and plan your projects around that amount.
Tips & Warnings
- Don't give up after a few rejections. If you want to succeed as a freelance writer, it's important that you be persistent.
- "Make a Real Living as Freelance Writer": Jenna Glatzer: 2004
- "Starting Your Freelance Writing Career": Moira Anderson Allen: 2011
- Freelance Switch: How Freelance Writers Make Their Careers Happen
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