WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A FREELANCE WRITER, ANYWAY?
It’s the coolest job/fun/ way to enjoy your writing passion. You get to set your own hours, receive payment, but pay no one, set your own time to be in your office and write to your hearts content. Whether you work all day (8 hours a day) or do it part time, it is all good. I broke into freelancing during a time I was laid up and pretty much a shut-in. I never knew I could write! I took an aptitude test (I have listed below) and found what I had been missing all my life! You may be working a 9-5 or have grave-yard shift, but freelance writing fits into any sort of schedule.
A good place to begin is a blog, or message board- get feedback from your friends. Many “closeted writers” have a drawer or two where they have hidden away their tid-bits and short stories. If that is you, take them out and begin to see them as “alive” and a vehicle carrying your message to others.
When you sit down at your computer, the choice of whatever it is you will write is what appeals to the freelance writer! Freelancing could be just writing poems for fun. But if you are more serious about your freelancing, begin to think about local newspapers, volunteer organizations, advertising businesses, or magazines (either adult or children’s). One thing for sure, it is a big market, a bunch of competition, and lots of genres to choose from. The moon and back is the limit for ideas!
I am a children’s non-fiction freelance writer (and now author). I have a strong desire to research- tried, true, and reputable places on line (or in books) for my non-fiction ideas and content. Looking for ideas online and then going about working them into an age-appropriate article, takes time and patience on your part. A freelance non-fiction writer can submit something as simple as a blog online or in print, like magazine articles for adult magazines. Kids love to read about science, nature, and animals. Since I love to write for kids, love animals, and God, I knew it was a gift from God to write and know in my heart, it was for kids! Some adult ideas to submit your adult articles are: web content, any sort of manuals, contracting, marketing materials, and the list is pretty much endless. Non-fiction is easier to break into if you are looking to make decent money.
A Fiction freelancer would be a writer of short-stories, e-books online, and have a gift for creative thought and story lines. Poetry, children’s picture books or age-level series books, are always in great demand, however most freelance writers say the fiction market it harder to break into.
One of my greatest resources and ‘friends’ are magazine (or book) markets. There are a few good magazine market books which list the freelance opportunities. The Institute for Children’s Literature is super source for market books and more. They pretty much spell out what type of articles their particular magazine is looking for. Any large bookstore will carry them as well as online. Many show you the HOW-TO’s of submitting and writing cover letters or query letters.
Freelancing is only part of your job. Learning how to introduce yourself through the cover letter or query is KEY. First impressions right? The cover letter or query needs to have a big-time attention grabber. The magazine market books will show you how to do just that. You will need to make files of every piece you write with copies of the cover/query/and article. Make sure to set up an Excel worksheet or just an old fashion paper work file with submissions. Date sent, title of article, rejects and acceptances will be logged onto the Excel or paper file. Research the publishers payment schedules and payment policies.
Social media will help you get connected. Facebook, Linked-In (professional place of meeting), and Twitter can bring the big world of freelancing into focus and make it smaller or not so intimidating for you. Social media will link you up with like-minded persons. We all need to motivate one another. There are dozens and dozens of online writing clubs to belong to.
One last word of advice and often a struggle is the self-discipline of freelancing. You have to have a drive, a motivating desire to walk into your home office and sit down and write. Even if you write for just an hour. You need to have a place (if not an office) that is set apart from the rest of your daily life; a place that is designated for creative thought and/or research. Setting a weekly plan and taking two days off is a super plan I have tried to stick with all these 20+ years. But, it doesn’t always happen! That is another reason I am a freelance writer. Be on-purpose about seeking out ideas for writing and new leads in your genre online. You have a ‘message’ for others or a gift to write fiction, those two things alone are like a big responsibility! Remember, life is a trial mile by mile, life is hard, yard by yard, but life (a writer’s life) is easier inch by inch!
Some sources of help:
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A WRITER?
SOCIAL MEDIA, BLOGS, AND WEBSITES
MY TRIED-AND-TRUE SOURCE: