Dec 10 2007

Just a few ideas for the budding freelance writer

Last week, I discussed the basics of deciding whether you want to pursue freelance writing (or whatever) to supplement your income.

This post is meant to get you thinking about sources of freelance work, specifically freelance writing.

So, say you’ve got some published writing experience and you’d like to land your first freelance writing gig.

What kind of writing do you want to do for money?

Here’s a few options:

Greeting cards

Someone has to write them, right? Here is the submission info and writing guidelines for Blue Mountain. They’ll pay $300 for card-related poetry that fits their standards.

However, most greeting cards seem to reap only a tenth of that. According to GreetingCard.org, a new card-writer might expect $25 per verse. Check out their PDF on Greeting Card Writers Guidelines.

If you think writing greeting cards could be for you, you’ll want to peruse a copy of the Greeting Card Association Industry Directory, available through GreetingCard.org.

Here’s a link to another site regarding the greeting card industry.

Public relations

Non profit agencies, churches, businesses and people can benefit from the services of public relations professionals. Most businesses already have a PR division or person, but smaller nonprofits or businesses might not.

Check the organization’s web site. If it hasn’t been updated since 2003 and you have web skills, pitch your services to the business.

Do they have a company publication that needs content? Maybe they need a press kit. Or, perhaps they have some newsworthy events happening soon. In that case, you’ll want to write and submit a press release to area media.

Magazines

If you’re interested in writing for magazines, you need to buy a copy of the most recent Writer’s Market. This gem of a resource comes out every year, complete with listings on book publishers, magazines, trade journals and writing contests.

At almost 1,200 pages, my 2006 copy (it’s outdated) provides advice for beginning writers, including business sense and the query letter.

Even better, you’ll find important information on publications, such as relevant contact information (which is why you need the most recent edition of the book), how much freelance content the publication accepts, the types of work they’re seeking, and how much they’ll pay.

Grouped by subject and then listed alphabetically, this is one book you absolutely must have if you want to publish a book or submit content for magazines or trade journals.

Pick up the 2008 edition on Amazon for about $20.

Newspapers

Don’t pursue freelance newspaper reporting unless you already have published reporting experience. It’s easy to learn, but it’s a hard industry to break into without previous reporting experience. If your heart is set on being a freelance newspaper reporter, e-mail your city’s metro editor to find out if they’re accepting freelancers. Be sure to do a thorough search of the newspaper’s web site to see if this info is online.

Be prepared to submit your work history and work samples. Also, you should have a strong list of story ideas you could do for them. At some newspapers, an editor will call on a stringer to fulfill particular assignments. In other cases, freelancers will have to pitch all story ideas to the editor. Find out the policy of the city newspaper(s) and be persistent and polite.

Miscellaneous sources

1. Network. Of course I have to say this, but honestly, use your contacts. Tell former co-workers (assuming you’re on good terms), Once you establish your writing business, you’ll find that most of your new jobs come through networking.

2. Direct solicitation. If you want to market your editing skills, head over to a college campus. Post fliers touting your services, create online listings, and encourage word-of-mouth advertising. Or, be ultra direct and walk up to people and tell them you’re a freelance writer and editor and see what happens. It might go well–or it might not.

3. Craigslist. You never know what you’ll find on that site. Perhaps you’ll find a struggling musician who needs help writing his bio and gaining exposure to the newspaper’s music critic. Maybe there’s someone who wants help editing their manuscript. Go to craigslist.org, select your city (or any of them, really) and look under “Gigs.”

4. Visit FreelanceWriting.com and their resources, including job source listings.


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Posted under Uncategorized | 6 Comments »


6 Responses to “Just a few ideas for the budding freelance writer”

  1. What great tips! Thanks for sharing. I know somebody out there actually writes greeting card messages, but never thought of doing it myself!

    Take Care,

    Trixie

  2. Thanks!

    I hadn’t realized that greeting card companies paid that much for verses (well, that some did). I may look into that. :)

  3. What a great post!! Very informative, thanks for sharing :)

    I wanted to let you know I tagged you for 7 Random Things…you can read more about it on my blog :)

    http://homemakerofthe21stcentury.blogspot.com/2007/12/7-things-about-homemaker-of-21st.html

  4. I’ve read good things writing articles for
    Associated Content on other blogs. I haven’t had time to try it out for myself yet, but I figured I would share another option to add to the great list you put together.

  5. Great tips! You can also get the Writer’s Market on the internet, on their Web site (http://www.writersmarket.com/), which will save you from having to buy a new book every year that will be out of date before you know it, and you won’t have to waste all that paper (it’s a huge book). Plus, you know the information is as up-to-date as possible. I think you can get a free trial subscription, too.

  6. Very informative. I will pass it on to a friend who wants to become a writer.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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