Making a Living as a Freelance Writer

You’ve got the drive. You’ve got the energy. You’ve got a few extra hours a week, and you’ve got the will to create. Good news – you’ve got the tools it takes to build a successful career as a freelance writer. Whether it’s to supplement your income or just satisfy a lifelong yen for publication, a little planning and a lot of hard work are all it takes to build a successful (and even profitable!) freelance writing career. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you build your most profitable business yet – you!

Find Your Niche

You’ve gotta have a gimmick – and many freelancers have broken into publications based on their areas of expertise. Sound complicated? It really isn’t – before you go lamenting your lack of a college degree or resources, think of ways in which you can turn your real-life interests into writing specialties. For example, if you like gardening in your free time, you don’t need a degree in botany or horticulture to be considered an expert on the topic. Write about your experiences growing an inexpensive organic garden or keeping your bumper crop alive after first frost -and voilÃ? ! You’ve got niche appeal. Try targeting publications that feature garden writing or deal only in such articles. Assemble a few clips and call yourself an expert.

Explore Alternative Markets

Freelance writers don’t only publish in the “glossies” (consumer magazines) – their services are also in demand in the business world. Once you’ve amassed even a small writer’s resume, you can begin to market your writing to professionals who don’t have the time or know-how to keep up with their writing needs. Press releases, ad copy, web content, sales letters – every business needs writing to help boost its bottom line. Explore opportunities in the business community with a letter and phone campaign to local business who might need your services, or try posting your availability in a local or online classified. Time sensitivity and versatility are a business writer’s bread and butter – and these qualities will serve you well in other facets of a freelance writing career. For more on building a lucrative business writing career, try “The Well-Fed Writer” by Peter Browerman, available in bookstores or online at www.wellfedwriter.com.

Cash In On Community

Writing can seem like a lonely task – the hours are irregular and the work can just as easily be done in bed as in a local coffee shop or office. Break the monotony – and build a network that might generate future projects – by becoming part of the writer’s community in your area or online. Take advantage of writer’s groups, critique circles or guilds in your area, or start one of your own. Participate in online chats or message boards with other writers (Absolute Write – www.absolutewrite.com – is a great place to start) and start to learn from the experiences of others. The company of writers can help you hone your craft, create the opportunity to share leads and projects, and energize your own writing as you share encouragement and tips.

See The Big Picture

It may seem as if it will take forever to break into your favorite magazine or start making money from your writing, but remember that, like any career, freelance writing requires dedication, commitment and persistence. Rejection and low pay can be depressing, but each opportunity to write and sell an article is a chance to further hone and improve your work. If you visualize yourself as your own small business, you’ll have the tools you need to not only keep writing – a business has to provide some service or product, right? – but also keep your morale above-board. Goals, no matter how specific, will ensure continued progress – and progress will ultimately lead to profits.

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