What does a writer’s life mean to you? Does it mean having your name in print, making the #1 best seller lists? Or does it mean having the freedom to write what you want and in addition make a living at it?
Really there isn’t anything glamorous about the life of a writer except a lot of hard work, no company benefits, no regular pay check, have to do your own record-keeping, marketing and it can get lonely.
But… there are definitely advantages to becoming a freelance writer. You are your own boss, setting your own schedule, writing what you want to write about, and you get paid to do what you love. Not everyone can or should become a freelance writer even though they may have the talent and skill. It takes a whole lot of dedication and self discipline, organizational capability, good listening skills and the ability to treat your writing career as a business and not a hobby. Writing can be lonely but it is important to network with other writers, agents, publishers and the audience who reads our material. Remember, a professional writer must always present themselves as a professional if they expect to be treated as one.
Who hires writers?
Where can a writer find clients to write for?
Most beginning writers struggle with this and don’t always know where they can sell their material. Knowing who hires writers helps determine the type of writing you may choose to provide or the direction you wish your writing career to take.
Businesses or Corporations
Many organizations have downsized the past few years and no longer have the staff to take care of their written material. If you have the expertise in an industry such as construction, medicine, business, etc to name a few then you can promote yourself as someone those businesses can utilize because you know their language and can offer an insight into their business. However, just because you don’t have a background in business or construction does not mean you can’t take care of their newsletters, special reports, correspondence, blogging or other opportunities that may come your way. Attend trade shows, business networking opportunities and advertise your services where your target client can be found. Be creative and don’t be timid – you can’t afford to be if you wish to build your business as a freelance writer. There is always a need for people who can write special reports, newsletters, business plans or even blogging.
These magazines won’t be found on the newsstand. They specifically target individual industries and may be for physicians, artists, realtors, or any other business you can think of. They are always looking for good writers and you don’t necessarily have to be an expert on their subject. You do need the ability to ask questions, interview people and research the subject. A good source for where to find markets is the Writer’s Market but don’t quit there. The next time you are sitting in any office look for trade magazines they subscribe to.
As many topics that you can think of, there are magazines for each and they all need material. It can be difficult to penetrate some of the more well known publications but there are probably many local magazines or smaller publications that would be happy to hear from you. Check your local library, recreation centre, grocery store for local magazines that can usually be found on racks near the doors. Once you develop your skills, gain experience and have clippings for your portfolio you may then find it easier to break into the more popular magazine market. Writing for local magazines can be fun and gives you the experience and confidence to pursue other markets for your writing.
Many people have a story to tell or have lived an interesting life and may wish to hire you to write their story. You don’t get the credit for writing the book but it is a source of income but there are pros and cons to ghostwriting. Have a clear understanding of what your client expects and what your role is to be. Get a contract signed by both of you so there are no surprises half way through the project.
Most small newspapers are in need of someone who can write on local topics. The pay is not usually the greatest but it is a good place to start and gain experience. Go in to your local newspaper office, introduce yourself to the editor and let them know you are a freelance writer in the area and available for assignments. Or ask him/her what they are interested in receiving and if they accept queries. I recently moved into a new town and one of the first things I did was introducing myself to the local editor, giving him my card and was given enough work to keep me busy all winter. I made myself available to take photos and did interviews and pieces that others may not have wanted. I didn’t make a lot of money but the experience and reputation I built were priceless.
Who doesn’t want to have their book become a bestseller? I think we all do but there is a wide range of books a freelance writer may choose to write. Fiction or non-fiction? Writing a book is a lot of work and you probably won’t get rich from it. It is probably best to put together a proposal describing the topic you want to write about and why you should be the person to do it. Why spend months or years on a book that no one wants to read? Sometimes just writing the proposal and putting together the information about your topic will help you decide if it is really something you want to write about. If by completing a thorough proposal you still believe it is a good idea, you will have better success in having it accepted. There are many books available on how to write a proposal which will be helpful during the process.
Writing on the internet can include writing material for websites, article writing, press releases, copywriting, blogging and anything else that you could write for elsewhere. There are many different forms of writing that can include copywriting, resume writing, blogging, news reporting, becoming a novelist, business writer, and technical writing. Of course there are hundreds of other things that you can do as a freelance writer and those are just a small sampling of the types of work available for you as you enjoy your writer’s life. All the best,