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A Freelance Writing Career
 
 

A Freelance Writing Career
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Congratulations on taking the first step toward reaching your goal of learning more about freelance writing. The career field of freelance writing is exciting and interesting. In this article, you will learn about what freelance writing is, how to determine your purpose and goal, and setting realistic goals. So let us get started!

What is freelance writing?

Freelance writing is simply writing professionally as someone who is self-employed. Rather than working for a company and being on its regular payroll, you are in a position of working on your own to help the company meet its editorial needs. While freelancers usually work from home, some work in on-site offices.

If you are self-employed as a freelance writer, you are responsible for finding your own work, getting paid for your services, and even reporting those earnings on your tax return. Freelance writers provide writing services for a multitude of venues, including magazines, newspapers, Web sites, public relations, advertising agencies, and more. There are so many possibilities as to where your writing assignments may come from and what they could cover.

As a freelance writer, you may be someone that is working at it full time, part time, or doing other things in conjunction with it, such as working a day job and freelancing in the evening. In this regard, there is no right or wrong; it is a matter of what you are looking to do. Can you have a full-time freelance writing career and make a good living? You bet! Many writers are doing just that. You also can use freelancing to supplement your current income, or start out doing this and transition to full time once you build up experience and clients. Another option for some people interested in freelance writing is to use it as a way to promote or gain publicity for something else they do, such as their medical practice, professional service, or a product.

Freelance Writer's Tip

Regardless of your experience level, you should consider joining any writers' groups in your area. Check places like meetup.com and yahoogroups.com to find writers' groups in your area. You may be pleasantly surprised at the number of people you can meet and discuss the work of writing. It is a great way to network and learn more about the craft and career field.

Determining Your Purpose and Goal

Have you given thought as to why you want to join the ranks of being a freelance writer? If not, you need to. The answer to this can make a big difference in what direction you take your freelancing career and what goals you will set. It may also influence the type of places you query, what you write about, and the type of money you will be comfortable making. Not everyone writes for the same reason, believe it or not. Some people freelance to fill an inner need, others do it to see their name in print, and still others want to spread a message about an issue close to their heart.

Before you go any further, pause for a moment and ask yourself why you want to freelance. What purpose are you seeking to fill? Are you wanting to make extra money? Build a successful writing career? Get your nonwriting-related business noticed? The answer to this question is very important in going forward. There is no right or wrong answer; but before you can reach goals, you need to know where you want to go first.

Some people do freelance writing merely as a hobby . They are not out to make much money from their writing and may even be comfortable doing it free of charge. Some people write as a hobby because they enjoy writing or they like to inform people about a specific topic. Others do it to promote their main business or career. For example, a psychologist may take up freelance writing on the side in an effort to become established as an expert in her or his field and get the practice noticed. Others just want to make a living as a writer , without having any other ulterior motives.

So give some thought to where you fall in this realm. While there is no wrong answer, much of this course is geared toward the person who wants to make a living as a freelance writer. Yet the information also can apply to those wanting to freelance for any reason.

Think Like a Businessperson

If your goal is to make money as a freelance writer, rather than to write as a hobby, you will need to treat your writing like a business. Keep in mind that businesses sell a product, and your product is your writing services. This means that you will want to consider the money, time involved, record keeping, marketing, etc.

By thinking like a businessperson, you will be more apt to make decisions that will increase your chances of success and make more money for you in the long run. You will set realistic goals about how much money you would like to make the first year, third year, fifth year, and so on. Setting realistic goals will mean you are not dreaming about what you can do and make. It is great to have dreams; but when you have realistic dreams, you are more likely to reach them and can build upon them to reach your bigger dreams.

Time Management

One of the most important aspects in regard to freelance writing is that of time management . Writers work on deadline, meaning that just about everything you write will have a due date assigned to it, and you will need to make sure you meet those deadlines. To do this, you may need to use a calendar to write your assignment due dates on. Many successful freelancers use a calendar to write interviews they need to conduct, when it is time to write the draft, when the piece is due, and any other notes they may need.

Record Keeping

Another important thing you will need to keep up on in a freelancing career is record keeping . You will need to keep track of queries submitted, money earned, expenses, and more. You can do this by obtaining a computer accounting software package, or simply using Excel, or just using handwritten methods of recording everything. Much of this information will be used when filing taxes and also keeping track of what you have written and where it has been published.

The world of freelance writing is an interesting and exciting one. The advances that have been made in technology in the last decade have really opened up the field, making it an easier, quicker, and streamlined process. Gone are the days of using postal mail to send off all your ideas and the final drafts of an article. Today you can contact and receive responses from editors within hours or even minutes, making this career field accessible to all.

Determining What to Write


One of the biggest concerns that many writers have is exactly what they will write. After all, there are many options available, including those in fiction and nonfiction areas. This lesson looks at some of those areas to help you determine the ideal area for you to focus on in your freelance writing venture. Keep in mind that you are in no way bound to one type of writing. Many writers spend their careers either engaging in various types of writing or making gradual changes over time. There is no right or wrong answer in what type of writing you should do. The answer, like so many of the other variables in freelancing, will be influenced by your goals and interests as a writer.

Let us look at a few of the areas, what they involve, and some pros and cons of each.

Nonfiction vs. Fiction

While there are some writers that have careers writing both nonfiction and fiction, the majority seem to lean toward one or the other. This could be because of goals, interests, or any number of factors.

Fiction writing involves writing stories, books, and the like; and the pieces of work can vary in length. This area also includes such things as poetry and screenwriting. The market for fiction writing can be quite solid if you are very good at not only writing, but getting your foot in the door to a good agent and/or publisher.

However, the fiction area can also be much harder to break into and make a living at. This is because writing fiction books often calls for having an agent. Unless you are someone like Stephen King or Anne Rice, it may be harder to make a living solely off of fiction writing. Not that it cannot be done, but the fact is that there are just many more options in nonfiction writing, which makes your chances of success that much more obtainable. One stroll through the aisles of your local bookstore and you will see the fiction-to-nonfiction ratio of books and magazines that line the shelf.

Nonfiction writing can be a lucrative market for freelancers to delve into. There are many opportunities to make a living as a freelance nonfiction writer. Just thinking of all the newspapers and magazines in the country helps you see some potential markets. In addition to that, there are many more nonfiction books sold each year than fiction books.Copywriting , or corporate/business writing, is another area of nonfiction freelance writing that offers a lot of opportunities. Copywriting projects abound for businesses needing help writing text for their Web sites, news releases, ads, or collateral materials, such as their brochures and media kits.


Specializing vs. Being a Generalist

Many books and experts on freelance writing recommend that writers specialize by choosing one or two topics that they will zone in on and primarily write on those topics. This is a good option if you are someone working to promote another business of yours, such as a carpet cleaning business owner who writes articles on caring for carpet. It also works well if you have an advanced degree in a particular field; for example, you have a degree in physical therapy and want to specialize in writing projects that pertain to this area. It also is good for the person who is pursuing freelance writing as a hobby, which will allow them the flexibility of choosing only assignments that they find interesting.

However, while on the one hand it can make you a specialist and may bring you more money per project, it also has its downside. Specializing can put you in a position in which some people, specifically editors or those making the decision on who will complete a writing assignment, may feel you are not qualified to write on other topics. If you are wanting to make a living as a freelance writer, then you may not want to specialize to the point of missing out on other work that may come your way and help pay the bills. Specializing too much can limit your options.

A happy medium for many full-time freelancers is to do a little of both. Have a few specialty areas that you like to write on, but be open to writing on other things. If you wait around to only write on a small list of topics, you may not make enough money to meet your budgetary needs.



Determining What Is Best for You

In order to help plan your freelance writing goals, you will need to think about the questions of being a fiction or nonfiction writer, as well as being a specialist or generalist. Again, this is going to vary by person and personal goals. If you are looking to make a full-time career out of freelancing, you may want to stick with being a nonfiction generalist writer . However, if your goal and heart is set on getting a fiction book published and you are planning to keep your day job for now, then you may want to stick with all fiction writing goals.

Take a moment to think about the type of writing you would like to do. Do you see yourself writing on parenting topics? Or horse grooming? Or primarily writing news releases for companies? In order to reach freelance writing success, you must first set some goals and determine your direction. In order to do this, you need to figure out what you want to accomplish.

In deciding what you want to start writing about, make a list of all the skills and experiences you have. Many people are surprised to learn just how much they know about several fields that may be popular markets.

Make a list of some things you could write about to get started in freelancing. Knowing a little about the topics you are starting with may help you feel more comfortable as you get your feet wet in the field.

Consider the following areas that are current big nonfiction writing markets. Do you have experience or expertise in any of them?

  • parenting
  • pets
  • health
  • nutrition
  • nature
  • green living
  • technology
  • business

There are many areas you can write about. For just about any experiences you have, there is likely to be a market. Start giving some thought to ideas that you feel you would like to start writing about. Be sure also to consider any degrees or specialty training you have had that could provide another good option for you to start out writing about.

Even if you have a lot of experience in a particular area but it is something very unique, do not assume you cannot find pertinent writing projects. Even someone who wanted to write about something as obscure as balloon animals could find plenty of markets and angles to get some assignments from magazines, companies, and more.

 
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