Finding a career that suits your interests, lifestyle and income requirements can be a challenge. For some people, the idea of working from home sounds beyond perfect, with the opportunity to wear pajama pants all day and surf the internet. However, working on freelance writing gigs from home come with their fair share of downsides as well. Before you make the leap and quit your day job, here are a few things to consider to know if freelance writing is right for you. [Read more…]
Whether you had a steady stream of writing gigs or a tiny trickle, you undoubtedly learned some lessons on what to do—and not to do—as a freelance writer in 2015. While we have yet to celebrate Christmas, it’s never too early to think about creating a better (new) year.
As you write your way into 2016, here are some New Year’s resolutions for you, the freelance writer, that will help you create a freelance writing career you’ll love. [Read more…]
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Christie Templeton, a freelance writer in Los Angeles California who also dabbles in music production and singing. Christie enjoys writing for the music industry when she is not busy writing copy and technical writing for her clients in the software development industry.
Many musicians must work an unrelated job to make ends meet until their music begins to become profitable enough to survive from. Jobs like bartending, waiting tables or retail work inside guitar stores are typical work resources used by a lot of musicians to supplement their income. While these can jobs be flexible to a degree, they usually require a lot of hard work that isn’t really related to the overall dream of being a musician and, in the long run, aren’t contributing towards building credibility in the community as a talented and knowledgeable performer.
Working as a part-time freelance writer as opposed to other alternative job options can be much more rewarding in the long run, not only by offering a more flexible schedule and higher pay, but also by bringing popularity to your website and your name over time. Here are a few reasons that writing for magazines and other publications might be a better option for extra cash as you work towards making your business as a musician more profitable.
No Extra Degree or Training Necessary
The best thing about starting as a freelance writer is that you don’t need to go to college and get an English degree or undergo any sort of training if you have some basic skills in place already. If you can type and have the ability to spell and grammar check your work then you can start your career today as a writer for the music industry. The majority of clients that accept freelance writers don’t care if you have a degree, they only care that you can write factual compelling content that will bring their readers back for more.
No New Equipment Needed
There is little investment to become a writer, if any at all to start. All you need to begin is a computer with a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Mac Pages, a free email account, a phone, and an internet connection. Since you can work in your pajamas you don’t need a uniform or other accessories to get started.
Inexpensive to Operate
Starting out as a writer your basic monthly costs will be the expense of an internet connection and electricity for your office. Later you will want to invest in business cards and other marketing material, but items like these aren’t absolutely necessary in the beginning and aren’t expensive to purchase once you are ready for them. You can save gas money by conducting interviews and research right from your home office, and you can visit your local public library.
Work Around the Band Schedule
While you will have deadlines to adhere to as a writer you will have a greater degree of flexibility to craft your schedule around the bands schedule depending on your deadlines. The further out your deadlines are the easier you can break up your time to perform research, write and edit your articles to fit your performance schedule. Another benefit freelance writing has above service work is that writing is much less physically stressful, and can definitely be less mental taxing too, that is if you don’t take on too hard of writing assignments.
Build Authoritative Backlinks to Your Website
This is one of the bigger bonuses you can’t get from working as a bartender or salesperson at a guitar store which is getting authority backlinks to your site. Most content publishers will allow you to add a link to your site in your author bio and sometimes within the article itself. If you are versed in SEO you will know that having backlinks to your website from other higher authority sites will allow your website to show higher in search results on Google and other search engines.
Build Credibility in the Music Community as an Industry Expert
Writing for trade magazines and other music industry publications over time will build your credibility in the music community and will contribute to your name becoming known as a knowledgeable professional in the music industry. In the long run this can bring business to you and your band far beyond what local networking can.
Who to Write For
There are a wealth of publications that pay freelance writers to contribute. You probably already read several of them and didn’t realize they were a potential paycheck along with being an informative resource.
Music Industry Trade Magazines
Trade magazines are free publications typically read by retailers and other industry professionals, these are not magazines written for consumers. Their subject matter is geared towards helping the reader’s organization make more profits. Here’s a few that take freelance writers:
- Pro Sound News
- The Absolute Sound
- Canadian Music Trade
- The Music Trades
Consumer magazines of course are geared towards retail customers who purchase guitars, keyboard, DJ gear and other pro audio equipment for both personal and professional use. You have likely read one or two from the following list. These publishers pay well and getting published in one of them will bring a lot of credibility to you as a music industry expert.
- Guitar Magazine
- Bass Player Magazine
- Keyboard Magazine
- Electronic Musician
You can find more musician and pro audio related consumer magazines with a few different resources detailed in a previous blog article published here by Jodee Redmond titled 17 Places Where Freelance Writers Can Find Magazine Markets.
Music industry organizations and unions publish material for their members in mini-magazines, online publications and other marketing material. These custom publications are often passed out at private and public events or printed and snail-mailed to their members. Some music professional organizations create such custom magazines include:
- Colleges & Universities
You can also make money writing content for websites. Start out by brainstorming a great story idea and then query the idea to a website or blog as a guest author. Here’s a few musician related websites that pay writers:
Lesson Plans for Schools
Music lesson centers and academies need lesson plans designed for their group and private classes. Additionally these businesses, as well as private teachers, at times hire writers to design web content as well as printed content to attract students to their websites.
Types of Topics to Cover
Before you start to query magazines and websites for writing jobs you are going to need some topic ideas to get you started. Here’s a quick list to get your brain to strum up some ideas.
- Memoirs of past performances, both bad and good
- Product reviews & comparisons including software, instruments, pro audio & dj equipment
- Instrument lessons
- DJing lessons
- Vocal lessons
- Audio recording, mixing and mastering tutorials
- Top 10 lists of favorite equipment, producers, artists, etc.
- Interviews with music professionals
- Journalistic style news reports of tradeshows, conferences and concerts
Photo Credits: Christie Templeton for both images
Editor’s note: This post was written by Jennifer Parris, career writer at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings. FlexJobs lists thousands of pre-screened, legitimate, and professional-level work-from-home jobs and other types of flexibility like part-time positions, freelancing, and flexible schedules. Jennifer provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.
After years of working in other industries, you’ve made the decision to look into pursuing a writing career. Writing is truly one of those fulfilling careers that is attainable if you know how to go about it. If you are thinking how to start writing in retirement, this article is for you.
How to start writing in retirement
Jump-start your writing career during your Golden Years with these tips!
Decide what you want to write.
You know that you want to write. But what exactly do you want to write about? You might have a passion for fishing or want to write service stories about how grandparents can connect with their grandchildren on a deeper level. Unlike some other careers, writing is the type of job that you should feel passionate about in order to write compelling copy. So determine what it is that you love, and then write about that subject.
Think outside the “book.”
Back in the day, writers didn’t have many options as to whom they could work for—and get paid to boot. They either wrote for newspapers or magazines, or they were novelists. Today, writing jobs are available in almost every career field, from accounting to zoology, and in various mediums, too.
You might love non-profit work as much as you love writing and combine your two loves to write newsletters for non-profits. Or you might believe in a company’s mission and write its press releases. You may love connecting with an audience via blogging, or decide to try your hand at working for traditional newspapers and magazines—but as an online writer.
Consider your needs.
Before you begin putting pen to paper—or whipping out your laptop to type out the next Great American Novel—you need to figure out what you want to get out of a writing job. Do you want to make it into a full-time career, or something you do part-time when you’re not spending time with your family and friends?
If you’re looking to supplement your income with writing jobs, take a look at how much you would need to earn and then compare it with the types of paid writing jobs that are out there. Do you want to work in an office, or do you want to work from home? Once you figure out why you want to write, how often, and where, you can begin your job search!
Use niche job boards.
Once you realize that you want to write, well, you’ll want to write right away! So you won’t want to waste a lot of time clicking through job postings in order to find the perfect position. That’s why it’s important to use niche job boards (such as FlexJobs and Freelance Writing Job Board) to help expedite your job search. You’ll avoid job scams, which are common in the world of remote work, and find a job that you’ll love, too.
If you haven’t already worked as a writer, you’ll need some help in order to launch your writing career. Talk to friends and family about this next phase in your career and get them on board to help you. You should also get on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Your LinkedIn profile should be up to date and include in your bio that you’re currently looking for writing work. And, of course, you should have your resume and cover letter designed to spotlight any previous writing work you’ve done (volunteer, freelance, and unpaid work all counts!).
You can write your way to a fun and exciting writing job! Take the time to prepare yourself for this next step in your career, and you can write yourself a happily-ever-after ending!
As freelance writers, we all work hard. We may even work longer hours than we did when we had a desk job.
Does this mean we’re working smartly? Does this mean we’re getting more work done?
Not necessarily. If you feel drained all the time and find yourself dreading work, maybe it’s time to assess how you do things.
To help you with that, consider these ways to work smarter. They may seem unusual, but they certainly are effective.
1. Make a “to don’t” list.
A “to do” list is imperative for me. I can’t work without one. Perhaps it’s the same for you; but have you ever thought of making a “to don’t” list?
That might not make sense, but basically, that list contains the things that you should not waste your time on, things that are unnecessary for you to get work done. This could be phone calls, chatting online, and so on.
Make this “to don’t” list and check it as you check your “to do” list, so you can remind yourself to stay on track.
2. Set a time limit on how long you work for the day.
It may seem counterintuitive. After all, the more hours you spend working, the more work you get done, right? Then again, more hours doesn’t necessarily equate to more work. It just means you’re working harder, and it can drain you.
Instead of spending 10-12 hours working, developing the habit of setting a time limit on your work hours will give you time to rest physically and mentally. Set a limit.
For example, set your work hours from 8 AM to 6 PM. During that time, you are totally focused on work. At 6 PM, stop whatever you’re doing, and take time to do things for yourself; perhaps cook dinner, watch TV, or read a book.
The next day, you’ll feel better and have more energy to work.
Also read: The Right Hours to Write
3. Recognize that there will be bumps along the way.
You’ll have clients who’ll demand revisions. You’ll have clients who’ll want a Skype chat. Things can – and will, at some point – go wrong. Acknowledge that, and when it does happen, do what needs to be done, and then get over it.
4. Don’t rush.
But you have a deadline! You’ve got more work than you can handle, and you don’t have enough time.
The “normal” reaction would be to rush. Think of a title. Write the article. Scan it. Send it in. Move on to the next piece.
Sure, this may work, but how does it affect the quality of your work? How does it affect you in terms of stress levels?
My suggestion is to make sure you work quickly – don’t dilly dally, check your “to don’t” list – but not to rush.
As UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
What do you think of these tips to work smarter? Do you think they’ll work for you? Maybe you have your own “work smarter tips”. Let us know!
I am a freelance writer and editor, and I’ve been working with overseas employers for years. This is to attest that being a Filipino – or any other nationality for that matter – does not hinder, in any way, opportunities of being hired by international employers.
So, if you’re someone starting out in the freelance world and need a guide on how to get started and thrive as a freelancer, I’m sharing with you my personal experience and thoughts.
Being a Filipino freelancer doesn’t have to be different at all. As long as you meet the qualifications required, you are free to apply for any freelancing job you wish. The only worry here is that some American employers prefer native English speakers. However, as based on my experience, the constant practice of writing every day will help you develop the skills to write the way they want you to. Anyhow, here’s what I had to go through to learn and thrive as a freelancer.
1. Building Experience
I have been a freelance writer for five years and it’s only in the last years that I started earning better. I devoted the earlier years building my experience. This includes fine tuning my writing, familiarizing myself with the work, knowing how to deal with clients and many more.
The thing is, online employers can only assess your skills and credentials through the cover letter, resume and sample works alone. And even if they ask for an interview, the process is different from the real-life hiring process. Thus, if you want to make an impact, your body of work should showcase your skills which is something you can enhance through years of writing.
2. Choose Jobs Wisely
As a freelancer, there’s always the risk of not having work in a day. And what I’ve noticed is that I kept looking for more employers just to guarantee that I have a full load of work every day. It’s really not a bad thing at all as long as you manage your time efficiently. The only problem is when you choose employers hastily.
The fear of not earning may force you to jump on any job offer in front of you. This is a huge no-no. You have to choose your jobs wisely. It should be based on your available hours and your productivity. Pick jobs where you can be more time efficient and you’ll earn better.
3. Use the Right Tools
Personally, I don’t use a lot of tools as a freelance writer. I just use the basics, plus some additional tools if an employer requests for it. Ever since I started writing, I’ve been using MS Word. It really gets the job done for me.
I use Dropbox to share files with one of my employers. He prefers it to receiving the articles through email. Also, I really like the share link feature. I can insert links to my resume and sample works in my cover letter.
A recent tool I was introduced to was Windows Live Writer. It’s an offline blogging tool. My employer prefers that I write from this tool before uploading my posts to WordPress. It makes it easier for him to format and make minor edits to the posts.
Also, when you’re out hunting for new gigs, check out Bidsketch. It’s great for building structured client proposals without the need to be a design or typography specialist. Having your proposals look professional can go a long way in this business.
4. Being Productive
Only you can determine how productive you are and what can make you productive during work hours. For me, I stick to a regular work shift and it really helps me manage my time better. If you’re a morning person, that’s better as you can start early and finish early.
What can make you more productive? Perhaps drinking coffee and working in a quiet environment? Well, this will really depend on you but make sure you maintain that habit. And one more thing about productivity… know how much work you can handle on a daily basis. Don’t ever bite more than you can chew. In the freelance world, if you can’t meet deadlines and deliver what’s expected, your clients/employers will terminate your services in a snap.
5. Get a PayPal Account
Having a PayPal account is almost mandatory right now if you’re a freelancer. Most overseas employers prefer transferring payments through PayPal since it’s very easy and convenient. You receive the money within minutes and you can withdraw it to your bank account right away.
In fact, most international employers require this from job applicants. Don’t let this specific requirement hinder you from landing a good-paying online job.
Before we end, I’d like to share something with you on a more personal note. When looking for freelancing jobs, be very cautious about scammers. I have been burnt several times. There’s a certain risk that comes with this job and the only way to protect yourself is to do a background check on the employer. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for information like the company’s website and payment methods. You have to know what you’re getting into before accepting the job offer.
Most importantly, know how much your services are worth and don’t allow shady employers degrade your efforts with measly rates. If you feel the need to negotiate, do so. Employers will be considerate if they know the value of work you’ll be putting in.
About the author: Azalea is an experienced, passionate writer involved in the newInternetOrder.com project – a place where online business is taught to normal people. No hype, and no constant product pushing. In her spare time, Azalea is interested in action-packed movies, MMA, volleyball, food and harnessing positive vibes for a well-balanced lifestyle.
While freelancers appear to be living the dream to anyone who hasn’t worked for himself, shrewd freelancers know how shark infested the outsourcing waters can be. From managing unrealistic client demands to performing their own collections work, freelancers take on many different roles. And that’s where we get into trouble.
Because we invest so much time and energy into growing our business, it can be difficult to know when it’s in our own best interest to leave a client. If you’re a freelancer, here’s something to help you decide if it’s time to leave a client. Why not add your comments to the discussion below, too?
Budgets are tight these days and many companies have shallow pockets. We’ve all faced the client who waits until the very last moment to pay an invoice. When do you say “enough”? If a client frequently gives excuses for late payments or doesn’t return communication regarding unpaid invoices, it’s probably time to move on. Don’t work for free, you are worth more than that.
Tip: To keep payment issues from getting sticky, ensure you always have a contract signed so you have recourse if you don’t get paid.
Lowering Your Pay
Has a client asked you to take less pay for the same work you’ve been performing for months? A lot of freelancers are tempted to suck it up and take less pay. Before agreeing to take a smaller paycheck, find out if you can renegotiate the work involved to make up the loss in income. You still have bills to pay, so if a client is suggesting they lower your pay, it could be time to look for a job elsewhere.
Expecting More Hours Than What They Pay
Freelancers typically don’t have the luxury of billing for other services like meeting attendance, commuting, administrative, and research hours, but we can build those items into a bid or our hourly rate. If you have a client who wants to conference call every day for an hour and will not allow you to bill for that time, you may need to say goodbye.
Lack of Communication
Because we may not have the benefit of face-to-face meetings, freelancers depend on clear and consistent communication from their clients. When a client fails to share what they need, it’s nearly impossible to deliver a good product. If you find yourself re-doing assignments because of lack of communication, you are performing twice the work and wasting your precious time. If this is the case, it’s probably time to seek out other clients and leave the poor communicator.
Respect requires mutual appreciation and consideration. If you have a client who is not respecting you and your time, it could be time to look for another gig. Clients who lose your work, communicate rudely or not at all, or miss set conference calls aren’t clients you should work for long term.
Don’t overlook the fact that you have to earn a client’s respect by meeting deadlines, being consistent, and providing a quality product or services. But, if you are fulfilling all of your obligations and the client still doesn’t show you the respect you deserve, get out of the arrangement.
Don’t Make a Snap Decision
The main thing to remember when managing your client list is to accept and reject clients based on your best interest. As tempting as it may be to drop a client who is making your life miserable, cover your bases and make sure you’re not going to lose money. Just like traditional employment, don’t leave one client until you have another client lined up to cover that loss of income.
What reasons have caused you to leave a client?
Sarah is the Content Manager and a Writer at Virtual Vocations, the one-stop shop for telecommuters looking for legit jobs. With several years of marketing and writing experience, Sarah also manages a group of freelance writers for a marketing firm. Follow Sarah on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.
As a freelancer, I always feel like I’m the one being interviewed. I present proposals, provide estimates or bids, and generally answer every question a client has with honesty, integrity, and the hope of landing the job. Over the years, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: I’m not the only one who should be evaluated for appropriateness for a job; I need to evaluate the client.
Early on in my career, I accepted a job writing stories. I was pretty naïve and didn’t really ask much. I mean, the client told me how many words and gave me specific guidelines for content and asked me to be creative. The stories were to be about women who wore high heels despite bunion discomfort. I didn’t ask any questions. I honestly thought it was for a podiatry office or a new product for making shoes more comfortable. I submitted the first story about a woman at a conference, on her feet, preoccupied with bunion pain. She returned to her hotel room, soaked her feet and put them up. That was it. And then the client admitted he was a foot fetishist and needed these stories to… you know. After I washed my hands and sterilized my keyboard, I tried to cut him loose. He kept asking for more stories and pictures of my feet. Obviously, I have blocked him from communicating further.
How could I have prevented this uncomfortable situation? I should have asked questions. There are writers out there who would have gladly written his shoe stories, but I wasn’t one of them. If I had only asked the audience for the stories, perhaps I would have come to the realization that this wasn’t the client for me.
I have avoided requests for erotica or content that I wouldn’t want on my professional resume. If that’s your niche, then go for it. For me, I was interested in a more broad range of other professional topics.
That’s when I was asked to write a book about relationships.
The specific job was to write a book aimed at men who want to rekindle a relationship that has gone stale over time. I started out with a discussion of the psychology of a long term relationship and worked my way into what is necessary for “upkeep”. I submitted this chapter and was told that I needed to get to the nitty-gritty physical side of things. I questioned my client and said, “I don’t write porn”, and was assured that he only wanted to explore the physical part of improving a relationship. Okay, I can do physical. With the aid of photos from Gray’s Anatomy, I explained the female genitalia. I pointed out that foreplay is a good thing as is setting the mood.
You can probably guess how this was received by my client. He wanted me to “be more graphic”. I tried to explain sexting and gave examples and just as I was about to move on to more about creating excitement and anticipation, he sent me the proposed title. It contained the words “wet” and “begging”. I refunded the money he had paid for the first chapters, told him not to use my content, and told him that I had clearly stated that I would not write porn. He tried several times to get me to reconsider and offered to change the title, but what he wanted me to write wasn’t what I signed up for. It hurt to refund his money because I had earned it, but I was working through a bidding site and didn’t want my reputation to take a hit, so I did it.
And then there was Mary (not her real name). I met her in a Linkedin group for Professional Women. She wanted a collaborator for a white paper. At least that’s what she said. We spoke on the telephone and we clearly discussed what she wanted and agreed that I would provide portions of content for her review and we could discuss any changes.
I posted on Linkedin that I was taking on new clients and to contact me via message or my website. Mary got very upset. Apparently she thought I could only work one job at a time. Then she was angry with the content I presented to her, though it was exactly what we had discussed. I was working from her notes. She sent me terrible notes, calling me names. Apparently, all she really wanted was a proofreader for her own version of her white paper, but this was NOT what she had said. And I didn’t have it in writing. She refused to pay me for the work and research that I had already done. I was shocked. Such unprofessional behavior from someone who appeared to be professional from her profile was definitely unexpected. And her white paper? It wasn’t a white paper at all. It was just a sales article.
These are my biggest mistakes. I’ve made others, for sure, but these offered the most learning. Save yourself some aggravation and learn from my mistakes:
- Ask questions. Find out exactly who your client is and what they want. If the job is unusual, don’t be afraid to ask what it is for or who the intended audience will be.
- If the scope of a project changes, don’t be afraid to discuss this with your client and try to come to a compromise. If the project is something that goes against your morals or is not what you signed up for, quitting is not a bad thing. Having to work on something that really bothers you IS a bad thing.
- Get everything in writing. Use a contract. Make sure there is a clause stating that the client owes you for any work done, even if the job is cancelled partway through. You need this to protect yourself from people who don’t know what they want and will try to get free work or simply stiff you for your fee. I also use a recorder for Skype conversations and send follow up emails with notes from the conversations.
Yes, as a freelancer I’m used to being interviewed to make sure I’m a good fit for a job. Now I know that as a freelancer I have to interview the client to make sure they are a good fit for me.
I had one goal when I started working on my freelance copywriting business full-time:
I don’t mean it to sound like my wife was unsupportive of the idea. She just is not a huge fan of the unknown, which we all know the freelance life has in spades.
Plenty of people make measurable goals for their first year in freelance, but I haven’t heard of a goal quite a measurable as that one. I’m either successfully thriving or paying alimony. That’s measurable.
Intrinsically, if I’m still married in this lifestyle, it means that other things are happening that might serve as goals to other people. Obviously, enough money must be coming in. In addition, I must be happy with the lifestyle in order to be bringing value into our relationship. People who are depressed because they haven’t left the house in a week tend not to stay married, either.
I met my goal. In fact, our relationship is better than ever.
There are plenty of books about how to embrace the freelance life, how to set up a freelance business, and how to grow your business once you do, like The Wealthy Freelancer, The Freelancer’s Bible, and The Well-Fed Writer. The problem is that books like that are often too good at their jobs: they flooded me with so many tips and tricks that I couldn’t possibly investigate all of them.
So what really worked? I’m glad you asked, considering that’s what I promised in the title of this post.
Freelancers tend to start out as generalists, afraid to turn down anyone that wants to give them money. That’s why it’s possible for people to make a living from sites like ODesk and Elance. Although being flexible is obviously a great skill to have in freelancing, I found that specializing in one market or vertical solves many problems that can come up in a freelance business.
I chose to specialize in companies looking to do business in the education market, due to my background as a teacher. Not only did I find a thriving market of potential clients, but I also saved myself a lot of time. My marketing is limited to a couple of LinkedIn groups that my decision makers frequent. If I want to go “press the flesh”, I have my pick of conferences where my clients and targets will be presenting. When you have a narrow focus, you can spend your time on more important things, like billable work. You also don’t have to worry about the local economy and the businesses around you.
Guard your time
We all got into freelance work for one reason: to control our own destiny. But too often I hear of freelancers answering e-mails at all hours, working 80-hour weeks, and never having a weekend.
If I had let myself fall into those traps, I would have definitely not met my marriage goal. All of the books I mentioned told me to keep work time and family time separated, and I’m proud that I’ve been able to follow through.
A client will try to test your response time very early in the relationship. No matter how long you’ve been working with them, if they call or e-mail after business hours (my time zone, not theirs), I let it sit and dealt with their issue the next day. Guess what? I never lost a client because of it. They simply got the hint that I was out of the office at that time, even though my office is the living room and I was technically “in”.
I’m very happy being alone most of the time, which is why the freelance life is great for me. However, early in the last year, I let myself slide into a slight depression because the only people I had had a conversation with for a week were my wife and three-year-old daughter. If you don’t know, a preschooler doesn’t really form opinions about politics or sports.
So I fixed it. I became active in my local Rotary club. I formed my own networking group of dads who worked from home. I started some new hobbies. In other words, outlets that I wouldn’t have had time for if it wasn’t for my flexible schedule. I’ve met many new people, instead of just the small group around the water cooler or in the teacher’s lounge when I was working, and have things to look forward to every week besides work and the occasional family activity.
Keep a nest egg in the business account
In my personal finances, I’m not much of a saver. But with my business account, I always like to keep a fair amount in reserve. It may not be the six months of income that some of the freelance books suggest, but it’s enough not to worry about the times where business is a little thin (which happen to everyone and don’t let them tell you otherwise).
Another reason to keep some cash on hand is to take advantage of short-term opportunities. For example, the Creative Freelancer Conference sent out some great discounts in the weeks leading up to the event, which made me look up the airfares to San Francisco and talk to my wife about leaving for a weekend. If I didn’t have the $1500 or so on hand, I would have never had the opportunity to participate in a great learning and networking experience. You never know, good or bad, what can happen in this freelance life.
Scott Sterling is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on marketing content – such as web content, white papers, and case studies – for educational companies and tutoring services. Before taking the leap, he was a teacher, insurance agent, and technical writer. He is based in St. Petersburg, FL and can be found at www.educationcopywriting.com or www.caregiverdad.com.
A former student of mine graduated with a degree in theater and set off to Hollywood to make her way in her chosen world. She soon learned an interesting twist about the requirements of Hollywood: in order to land a part you need a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card. But in order to have the coveted SAG card, you must have acted in a legitimate production. So in the logic of the glittery world of movies, you can’t get a card until you’ve had a role, and you can’t get a role without having a card first. It’s a vicious cycle! Short of being “discovered”, she was going to have to pay her dues by acting in productions that earned her points towards her card, but were less glamorous than Hollywood.
Writing is very similar. Often, in order to write an article, an editor wants to see clips – or examples of material you’ve published in the past. But, it’s hard to get clips if no one will publish you without them. Just like acting, we writers may have to pay our dues.
For writers, “paying your dues” may mean writing a few articles that either don’t pay or pay in copies (sending you five copies, for example, of their magazine) or contributing to an online site or blog or searching out smaller markets. I have a couple stacks of magazines – copy payments – I don’t necessarily have a use for (other than making my mother proud), but now I have hard copies of clips I can scan and send along with my queries.
Get Those Clips!
So how do you find ideas and potential markets?
- Spend a couple hours at a local bookstore or library scanning the magazine section. Don’t limit yourself to the big names; there are almost as many magazines as there are interests: sports, kayaking, mountain climbing, dogs, cats, biking, literature, cars, farming, cooking, ranching, eco-living, art, etc. Let the magazines and their topics inspire you!
- Be sure to check out local and regional magazines. My first articles were published in a local arts journal and a regional interest publication.
- Writer’s Market is a well-known writer’s resource book. Flip through the thousands of pages of trade journal and magazine listings. Consider people you know who you could interview for articles. A few of my first publications in national magazines were written interviewing a local dog trainer, another came from spending a day with friends who grew organic, heritage potatoes.
- Go on the internet. There are a plethora of online magazines and blogs you can write for – they count as clips too! Many are very open to new writers. Are you a caregiver? Parent? Traveler? Athlete? There are sites for every interest you can think of.
- Look at job boards. They are an excellent resource to find publications, websites and businesses actively seeking writers.
Let your imagination and creative juices flow and come up with great ideas. Mine all your life experiences for topics and ideas – you’ll be amazed to find there is a market for almost anything. Now that you have a file full of ideas and potential publications, it’s time to sit down and write. Start gathering those clips, even if it means writing a few pro bono articles. You won’t have to do that for long. Soon, you will be savoring the satisfaction of producing and seeing your writing in print.
About the Author
Julie Luek is a freelance writer living in the mountains of Colorado and is published in dozens of regional, national and online publications including Farm & Ranch, Dog World, Vibrant Life, Today’s Christian, Colorado Central Magazine, Arts Perspective, Coaching and Athletic Directors and others and is the author of two blogs, A Thought Grows and In Fine Company. She is also a biweekly contributor to the international writing site, She Writes and appears as a guest blogger on sites like WOW (Women on Writing), Author Spaces and others with writer-based content. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter and enjoys supporting the community of writers.
Image via Brandon Giesbrecht