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My journey as a writer has taken me to amazing places. From local events to corporate trips, meeting with organization leaders, watching sports, receiving free samples and more, I feel that my ability to write has opened many doors. The best part is learning and experiencing new things I may never have seen or tried.
People who love writing often question how they can become freelance writers, and it’s tricky because there are many answers. I’ll start by sharing what I know, and you decide what works best for you and what route you want to take to becoming a freelance writer or looking for freelance work temporarily.
Get the basics done.
- Make a professional email address (not something that says hotgurl12xo that you made when you were 12 and still using AIM)
- Buy a working laptop (if you can’t meet deadlines because you don’t have your own computer and are restricted to using the one at the library whenever it’s open, you’ll lose jobs and/or not being hired again)
- Learn how to write professional emails/letters if you haven’t already (contacting editors who receive thousands of emails a day without a good foundation for the English word can get your correspondence deleted instantly; similarly, individuals looking to hire a good writer will not want you if you write your email as if it were a text message)
Practice your skills. If you’re looking for freelance writing jobs, I assume you know how to write well. Not only do you have to understand where to place commas and what words to capitalize but you must be privy to what your audience wants. I write for companies as well as creative websites or magazines and newspapers. Each time I sit down to write an article, I ask myself, “who’s going to be reading this?” I don’t include science jargon in stuff that’s meant to just tell people about the high school basketball game, and I don’t use slang in anything that’s going to be sent up to a manager. You could have graduated from one of the most prestigious writing programs in the country, but if you pitch a story to an editor and it’s not catered to what their reader base likes, you will get rejected. Doing research on who you’re pitching to is part of your skill set. Practice it!
You have to network and get to know people. Let’s say you are already the master of language and grammar and fully grasp the concept of catering to your audience. Now what? Well, now you have to research places or people you want to contact and decide how you will start freelance writing. Will you set up a Craigslist ad to offer students helping editing papers or will your thing be trying to get published by the New York Times? Regardless of what you decide, the more people you know, the better. Network with school teachers, parents, college boards, etc. to get clients for the former and get yourself known by other reputable publications to get seen by sites with followings as large as the New York Times. Friends and family can help, too! Everyone knows someone!
Be brave. Sometimes there will be a job you want, and you won’t know how to get it and you really can’t convince yourself that you’re good enough but that’s how you close doors for yourself–with self-doubt. Gather positive energy and go for what you want. The worse that could happen is someone turns you down for a position or a pitch, but if hearing ‘no’ is not something you can handle, this is probably not the right industry for you. Writers are a dime a dozen, and you constantly have to prove your worth to strangers.
How do freelance writers get paid? By being good writers, establishing a portfolio, and/or having others recommend them. But you have to be willing to start small. Some editing places will only pay one cent per word whereas other sites are willing to pay up to $300 for one article.
There is a lot to know in the freelance world and how to become a freelance writer is one of the most common questions but an adventurous path once you find your calling/niche and establish a clientele. Don’t give up if it’s your passion!
Next month, I’ll post How to Pitch an Article.