Freelancing is a thrilling yet terrifying line of work. Getting started as a freelancer is the most difficult and challenging step. Especially if you’re coming from the stability and predictability of full-time work, freelancing can seem vague, threatening and terrifying. When you’re just beginning, you’ll be on a constant hunt for freelance writing jobs. Let’s consider some popular ways to can find freelance writing jobs for beginners and get your career off the ground. [Read more…]
“I have a computer and an internet connection. I want to quit my job and do what you’re doing. Anyone can make money writing online, right?
If I got a dollar every time I heard this – or some variation of it – I’d have enough to go to the Maldives for this year’s dream vacation.
There is some truth to the statement, though. Anyone can start writing online, but there is no guarantee of success or money. There is more to online writing than “I can write” – as you already know.
Even veteran freelance writers may have experienced feeling lost and doubtful at times, especially these days. The online writing scene is so crowded. Good jobs are difficult to find. Consistent and reliable clients are not as common as before. Rates are going down. [Read more…]
Author: Kenneth Waldman is a freelance writer and content creator. He draws his inspiration out of the traveling. Get in touch with him on Linkedin.
You might be surprised to learn the number of freelance writing aspirants out there. However, many don’t dedicate time to fulfilling their dream. Alternatively, they go about their 9 to 5 traditional work routines, take orders from irritable bosses, and get paid less their worth.
If you wish to be a freelancer and your current situation is similar to the one outlined above, it’s high time you make a change. You’ll only waste time if you keep procrastinating.
Just remember that it takes some time to grow a successful freelance writing business. The steps to actually start are simple. They do not guarantee that you’ll be swimming in cash, but they will set you on the right path to gaining a solid income in the near future. [Read more…]
- A lack of purpose and passion
- Working a dead-end job
- No one is investing in you
- Insufficient compensation
If you’re feeling any or all of these symptoms, you may be ripe for a change. The launching pad for this monumental shift? A bit of wisdom from Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Whether you’ve freelanced as a side-gig or are just jumping into the ring, taking on a full-time freelance career is not a decision to be made lightly. Full-time corporate employment offers paid time off for vacations, illness and holidays. Medical, dental, vision, disability and life insurance are often part of a benefits package. So, too, is a guaranteed minimum income.
So, how do you leave all of that security? How do you transition to freelancing as your main source of income? How do you budget and plan? Very carefully.
Be a Business
Transitioning to full-time freelancing means you are going to be a business all on your own. If freelancing is your main source of income, you can’t be casual about it. You’ll have to start thinking like a business owner, even if your only employee is, well, you. By giving up that secure spot in corporate America, you’ve taken on the following roles (in no particular order):
- Head of Sales & Marketing
- Account Receivable
- Creative Director
- Client Services
- and more.
Are you ready and willing to manage both big and small picture details? Gone are the days of throwing receipts into a shoebox. Here are the days of detailed financial record-keeping. Gone are the days of, “Sorry, just saw this email from two weeks ago.” Here are the days of, “Please see attached for all deliverables due tomorrow. Please contact me with any questions.”
Don’t take this to mean you can expense everything and go on a spending spree to outfit a new office. You have to think about overhead costs, billing cycles, positive cash flow and more. Find a reliable and usable accounting platform. Learn it inside and out. Use it.
Research and apply for credit. American Express has some of the best business credit cards with benefits ranging from purchase protection to flexible payment schedules. Using a card (and paying it off monthly) is a great way to keep business expenses separate from personal expenses. It will make it easier for you to reconcile business expenditures by comparing the statement to your accounting records. You’ll also be building credit for your business. That way, if you’re ever in a position to seek out investors or loans for expansion, you’ll have a credit history.
Set Yourself Up for Success
After years of marching to another’s drum beat, it can be tough to stay productive without oversight. By now, you know what helps and hinders your personal productivity. Does a clean workspace keep you sane? Find and maintain a dedicated and orderly space for your business. Using the kitchen table might seem convenient, until someone spills fruit punch all over a very important piece of paper.
Start with a schedule. Until you’ve found your stride, it’s important to commit to a scheduled workday. It doesn’t have to be eight to five, but you must be fully engaged in work during whatever schedule you choose. Don’t let distractions like daytime television destroy your productivity.
If you need Internet to do your job, do you have a plan at home with adequate bandwidth? What happens if you lose access? Do you have a back-up plan? It wasn’t a big deal when your Netflix was down for a few days, but if your livelihood is resting on reliable email access, that changes things.
Every freelancer wants to be “too busy.” A freelancer’s best problem is having such an overflow of work that turning projects down is necessary. So, how do you get there? You have to make a name for yourself. Relying on a small client base would be nice, but what if the work dries up? Know who you are and what you do. Distill that into an elevator pitch. Imagine this: you run into a friend at a restaurant, and they introduce you to a potential client on the spot. What would you say? Will you have a business card at the ready? You’d better. You don’t have to plaster your face on a billboard like an aspiring realtor. You do need to constantly seek out business opportunities and be ready to pitch yourself at any moment.
Still ready to ditch the suit and forge out on your own? Have fun and stay organized!
This post was written by Amanda Kohn, a bookworm from Phoenix. Although a fashionista at heart, you can find her head in a book or online reading up on the latest headlines. Follow her on Twitter.
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
You’re just starting your journey into the world of freelance writing. Maybe you are looking to make it a career, or maybe you are looking to make a little Target, I mean, grocery money while you stay at home with the kids. Either way, that first step can be intimidating. Where do you start looking? How do you approach potential clients? How much time should you spend writing each day? And the questions go on and on.
As you become more and more confident in calling yourself a freelance writer, you will find your own answers to these questions – paving your own way is kind of the nature of the beast. And while I would still consider myself in the paving process, I think there is something to learn from a person who is just starting out. So, check out Lessons on How to Be a Paid Writer, and then read more about the beginning of my freelance career:
The First Steps
Consistent writing started for me when I became pregnant with our first child. I wanted a way to document the pregnancy and share information with family, and, the easiest way to do this was with a blog. In addition to starting my own blog, I began reading other people’s, and I saw how it could become so much more than a diary. So, I started out dabbling in other genres by just writing guest posts for writers I enjoy following. I did this either by responding to requests for guest posts or checking submission guidelines for various sites. This was a low stakes way to get my writing out there and receive feedback from someone who was considering publishing it.
Then, I started looking online for more. I found a few sites and programs that list various opportunities and have good information. Some offer paid positions while others do not. Either way, I consider being published a great way to boost my career.
- Freelance Writer’s Den
- Make a Living Writing
- Freelance Writing Jobs Blog (of course)
- Blogger Link Up
Use Your Talents
A lot of my family and friends know I am an English major and a former teacher. They also know that I edited and helped write papers and resumes in college, so I get a lot of business from recommendations. If someone is in need of a service like that, I usually work out a price with them based on what they need.
Think about what talents you naturally have. Find a way to incorporate that knowledge and make it work for your writing. Are you great at marketing your work? Do you already have a small business you could use as a venue for clients? Do you have specialty knowledge that others might benefit from learning about? Use it. Write it.
My blog and portfolio continued to grow, and I started finding new ways to get my name into the market. I created a LinkedIn account, and I also added a tab to my blog so others could see my work and see what I am capable of. After doing this, I received emails from a few sources asking that I write for their site or publication. This doesn’t happen as often as I go out searching for opportunities though.
When I am hired to write for a publication, I make sure I make use of all of the social media resources I have on hand. I tweet it out, post links to Facebook, pin posts, and have even been known to post to Instagram after writing something my followers might love. By doing this, not only do more people see my writing, but the publications I am working with appreciate the marketing. They are more likely to rehire someone who will tout her work and drive in traffic.
The Bottom Line
If you want to make a liveable salary freelancing, be ready to put in well over 40 hours a week. A lot of it is writing, but a lot of it is searching out and getting the opportunities. If you’re looking to make a little extra cash on the side, check out some of the resources above and start practicing. And, don’t forget subscribe to Freelance Writing Jobs – they have connected me to a lot of work!
About the Author
Jenna Hines is a former HS English teacher turned stay-at-home-mom. She spends her days taking care of her kiddos, creating content for her blog, Call Her Happy, and freelance writing. Find her on Twitter and Facebook or check out her portfolio on LinkedIn.
I’ve been a (more than) full-time writer for ten years. It takes talent, ambition and the ability to manage your time and money to be successful. Contrary to popular belief, you can be a successful freelance writer without starting your own business. However, if you have a habit of slacking or procrastinating, this probably isn’t the path for you.
My typical day includes writing for up to ten clients at a time. This includes everything from SEO-rich web content to brochures for international hotel chains. I scour job boards for new openings and apply daily, even if I have a full workload for the next few months. I’m also updating my resume, website and LinkedIn while learning new skills like SES qualifications as I accept new projects. [Read more…]
The popularity of social media in today’s job market has made everybody believe they can talk their way to a job. It gives them an excuse to visit their favorite social media site and say they are doing it as a part of their job search. While freelancers and job seekers can find jobs on social media sites, it needs to be handled carefully to be successful.
When looking for freelance writing gigs, it is important to let people know you are open to receiving new clients. One of the benefits of social media is the people you are associated with know others and those people know more people. You never know who you can reach within your network on a social media site just by telling people you are looking for a freelance position. [Read more…]
The attention grabber, the big bold letters at the top of the articles that stop readers in their tracks. Example: “Sixty Ways to Drive Your Man Wild” or “Top Ten Blogging Tips for Beginners” or “Why Your Kids Hate You.” Careful with the sensational ones, readers hate a content tease.
Hypertext markup language. Without getting all techie, it’s the tags that create <b>bold</b> lettering, italics, indentations, hyperlinks, etc. Some gigs – blogs, websites, content providers, etc. will require writers be familiar with how to use HTML. The good news is if you don’t know the language, you can learn it free. There are tons of sites that provide the basic, more commonly used tags along with online tutorials.
It’s not a stake through the heart of a writer, but it’s close. It definitely bruises the ego! A kill fee is when a magazine says they love your idea, requests you write it for a set price, you sign the contract and then once the article is written the editor has changed their mind for whatever reason. The article won’t run in the publication, but they give a smaller payment – typically 20 to 50 percent for your trouble. The kill fee practice is controversial, with some writers refusal to sign contracts with kill fees. They argue the kill fee undercuts the value of a writer’s work and that whether the article is used or not, the writer fulfilled their contractual obligations. Editors argue that kill fees protect publications from paying full price for poor writing. Take a look at a few of FWJ’s write ups about it here and here. The wonderful writers at Renegade Writer has a great piece on kill fees as well.
If a client asks you to write something for their landing page, they want you to write ad copy for a lead generator page. This the page that pops up whenever a potential customer clicks the magic button in an advertisement.
A lede (lead) is one of the key parts of an article. Sure, all parts are important, but the lede is the hook. After the headline, it’s what grabs a reader and makes them sit down for a few minutes to soak in your masterful prose. The lede introduces your piece to readers. “Lede” is the original spelling going back to the great days of newspaper journalism though a lot of writers refer to it as “lead” either way works. Read about lede history and impress your writer friends at your next get together.
These are those all important dates that you never miss. It’s when an article is due, when the editor wants it in and when excuses will be tough to take.
A quickie summary of what an article is about, it usually is placed in the table of contents or under the article headline.
The theme and publishing calendar for a publication. Most print publications have calendars set far in advance, some as far as six months which is important to remember when sending queries. Writers also use an editorial calendar to schedule their work and organized deadlines, blog posts, etc.
The yummy, meaty articles that are ‘featured’ in the main part of the magazine. These articles are longer and are an impressive feather in the cap of any writer.
FOB (Front of Book)
Newbie writers are always told to aim for the smaller front of the book (magazine). These articles are shorter pieces designed to get a writer’s feet wet with the publication. Front of the book is sometimes used interchangeably with filler which are short pieces, but they can be located throughout the magazine.
The silent voice that gives the zing to a piece without byline credit, but earns the income. Often writers sign a confidentiality agreement with their clients and the terms vary from project to project.