Most freelance writers have common sense and the ability to judge good and bad opportunities. As mentioned recently, most you know what you’re getting into before you get into it and don’t need bloggers to tell you most of the things we tell you. Still there may be a few things you don’t realize just starting out, especially those without formal training.
Let me share a few things to think about.
1. It’s Not OK to Post Someone Else’s Writing or Images Without Permission
I don’t know how folks get the notion that just because something is online it’s public domain, because that’s far from true. It may be out there but it doesn’t mean you can cut and paste it. Even worse, just because it’s out there doesn’t mean you can cut and paste and put your own name on it. For most of us this is common sense, but since so many writers (especially content writers) are getting blasted for plagiarism, it’s an important thing to discuss.
It’s not acceptable to post someone else’s writing without permission, no matter what that writing might be. If someone wrote something you feel bears repeating, you’re welcome to quote with attribution. You’re also welcome to paraphrase while giving credit where it’s due. You are never welcome to use someone else’s words without permission unless it clearly states on that article or blog posts permission is granted. It’s considered stealing and can get you into a lot of trouble. Also? It get get your blog or website shut down.
Ditto images. Google Images is not a free for all, it’s only a search engine for images. The pictures showing up in searches aren’t yours to take.Always. Ask. Permission.
Again, the Internet isn’t the public domain. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t have permission to use something, don’t use it.
2. Research Involves More than Google
If you’re hired to write an article requiring research, you’re probably tempted to use your favorite search engine because it’s quick and easy. Here’s the thing: A lot of the content on the web is from people who also think search engine research is quick and easy. Some of the content isn’t even accurate. When you use only search engines for your writing, you run the risk of only producing the same regurgitated, possibly incorrect content everyone else is using. Go beyond Google. Visit the library, read some magazine articles and contact experts. You’ll find your much more respected as a writer when you take the time to conduct accurate research. You’ll also find yourself with repeat assignments as your editors appreciate your going the extra mile. Besides, there’s the satisfaction of knowing you gave your readers an accurate portrayal.
3. There Are Different Types of Writing
So, yeah. All writing is different. Newspaper formats are different from many magazine formats. Magazine formats are different from many web formats. Blogging isn’t the same as article writing and both are different from writing books or grant proposals. So it’s terrific to decide you’re going to be a writer, but to do so is to know the difference between the types of writing and learning about the formats that best suit your style. It’s best not to accept a gig unless you’re sure you know the format.
4. Not Everyone in the Freelance Writing Community is Helpful or Encouraging
At the risk of being labeled a whiner or a martyr, I’m going to tell you about something we’re not supposed to talk about.I don’t know any other online community where there is so much bickering and negativity.
There are plenty of freelance writers in the community who truly care and wish to help others succeed. There are others who don’t really care about your success, especially if your path to success isn’t the same as theirs. If there’s one thing that I find disturbing about some members of the freelance writing community it’s the negativity. I’ve seen incredibly petty arguments and some valid debates, I’ve seen flame wars start just because people don’t agree on rates, and I’ve seen freelancers who do their best to discredit another freelancer or sabotage a career, simply because they choose different paths. My advice to you if you’re going to be a part of the freelance writing community is to know who you’re getting into a discussion with before you get into that discussion. If it’s someone who takes everything as a personal affront or views disagreement as an attack, rethink that discussion or take it somewhere else. It’s not worth the constant negativity.
5.The Opportunities You See Online Aren’t the Only Opportunities Available for Freelance Writers
Job hunting services like the one offered here are very convenient. We scour the web and post the best opportunities we can find. And while we enjoy bringing you this convenience, it’s also important to note that these are only but a few of the opportunities available to freelance writers today. There are other ways to find work. For example, you can try cold calling and emailing. You can also try querying magazines. If you’re not finding the good gigs online, take it offline and see what’s out there. You’ll find that can do very well when you’re not waiting around for the work to come to you.
What are some other things beginners might not be aware of?