Many people dream of making a career in freelance
writing. However, it is a very crowded field,
like acting, music and pro sports, with thousands
of hopefuls for every one freelancer who
makes it big.
Here are some tips to help you
dream into a reality:
- Expect to pay your dues. No matter how talented
you are, major newspapers and magazines rarely
give inexperienced freelancers a chance.
Start with free publications. They can be
devoted to any of a number of topics, such
as local news, arts, sports, parenting, home
repairs, etc. They are distributed in stores,
restaurants, and libraries, through the mail
or in street corner boxes.
- Find places to start close to home. Contribute
articles to alumni publications; identify
trade publications related to your profession,
industry, or hobbies; or surf the web for
websites that are looking for content writers
with your particular knowledge.
- Expect low pay to start. In the types of
publications mentioned above, expect an article
of up to 1,000 words to earn you $50 or less
-- perhaps only the experience and future
- Build a "clippings" file. In writing
for smaller publications that pay poorly,
your goal is to build a file of "clippings"
or "clips." This is the equivalent
of an artist's portfolio or a musician's
demo tape. Before even considering you for
their pages, the editors of bigger publications
will demand to see samples of articles that
you've had published elsewhere.
- Pitch ideas to the editor. In approaching
any editor, you must offer an idea for an
article. Your idea must demonstrate familiarity
with the publication and the sort of articles
that it runs. Naturally, you'll be suggesting
something new but in line with the publication's
general focus. Selling an article idea is
much easier if you can demonstrate expertise
in the field in question (based on your prior
experience or contacts, for example).