All freelance writers have to start somewhere, and I’ve collected 5 excellent freelance writing tips here from previous guests of the Writer’s Market podcast. Five freelancers who’ve spent part or all of their time freelancing share some of their wisdom below.
5 Freelance Writing Tips
1. Ask Yourself the Right Questions Before Freelancing
“Are you cut out for uncertainty at times? Are you able to focus? Are you comfortable with rejection?” In addition to considering finances and insurance, Doug White advises writers that these are key questions all potential freelance writers should ask themselves before making the leap.
2. Make Sacrifices to Build Clips in the Beginning
“One thing I always advocate is that if you’re having trouble breaking into a publication, try to write for one of their sections that is either free section or submit a piece to them that is on spec,” says Zachary Petit, who admits this advice is sometimes a little controversial. While getting paid is the goal, sometimes getting that clip is worth the investment of time and energy to build up a few clips in respectable publications. After all, future editors don’t know how much you were (or were not) paid.
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3. Remind Editors That You Exist (and Can Write for Them)
“One thing I would do every year is to send out a Thanksgiving card to anybody I had ever done work for and anybody I had ever worked with,” says Jessica McCann, “just as a way to say, ‘Hey, I’m thankful for my connection with you, and I’m thinking of you this time of year.” With the holidays coming up, this would sometimes lead to freelance assignments to help editors who would be out of office. McCann would also send bright and colorful cards in spring (ahead of those summer trips).
4. Avoid Writing for a Specific Platform
Full-time freelance writer Carol Tice doesn’t get hung up on what she writes about or even where the writing appears. As she explains, “I often meet people who say, ‘Next year, I’m only doing print.’ And my answer to that is always, ‘Why?’ Because I’m only doing money.” The point of freelance writing is not where your writing appears but whether it can sustain you as a writing entrepreneur.
5. Pitch Your Way Into Any Market (Even Conferences)
When C. Hope Clark realized she’d need to speak at conferences to expand the reach of her writing, she broke into the conference circuit the only way she knew how. “I pitched conferences just like I would anything freelance,” she says. “It surprised me how many people were interested and had not been pitched.” By reaching out with presentation ideas, Clark made life easier for conference directors who were looking for ways to fill sessions for their events.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, specifically working on the Market Books, WritersMarket.com, and maintaining the Poetic Asides blog. All the advice above and more can be found in the Writer’s Market podcast series. You can follow Robert on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.