I’ve been doing a bunch of research this week about how to both make some extra money, and how to start earning money again specifically as a writer. Once upon a time I made a fairly decent income as a freelance writer. Other stuff has gotten in the way, and the work involved in tracking down jobs and fulfilling them got lost in the fray.
I’ve got a bee in my bonnet recently about doing what I love. And what I love is writing. I’m working on getting myself admitted to Goddard College’s BFA in creative writing program. But I want to really start to build a writer’s life for myself. I thought I’d share my plan for that in this week’s WFM Wednesday post.
1. In order to be a freelance writer, you need clips. I got my first jobs using college essays more than 10 years ago. These got me my first two or three paying jobs, and those clips got me my next jobs…and so on. These clips are like gold. Ten years ago there weren’t the opportunities on the internet there are now. It shouldn’t be difficult to find an avenue for gaining a few clips. It would be great if they were from great sources, but it’s more important that they’re really well written.
2. This step is an investment. If you are serious about wanting to be a freelance writer, buy the Writer’s Market. If you really can’t afford the $20 for the non-electronic version of the current edition, go to Amazon and get the last edition used for a couple of bucks. Sign up for Swagbucks (use my link and I’ll be your new best friend) and use that money to update as soon as you’ve built up enough points for a $20 in gift certificates. This book is that important, IMO. It lists every publisher, their needs, how to submit to them, etc. But more than that, at least for me, making this investment makes me FEEL like a writer. And that’s important, and to me worth $20. You can take it as a tax deduction, too.
3. To start making some money fairly quickly, check out online venues. In the last week I’ve signed up to write for Associated Content, Demand Studios, and Suite 101. Demand Studios pays a flat fee (up to $15 for a 400 word article I can write in about 30 minutes.) Associated Content and Suite 101 pay for page views. For those last two, it might not seem like it’s worth your time to make just a couple of dollars. But once you build up the number of articles you have sold to them, the clicks start to build up. I spoke to one lady who writes for Suite 101 and after two years earns enough each month to pay her mortgage by adding one article a week. She’s still being paid for two year old articles when someone clicks on them. You have to send in applications to Demand Studios and Suite 101. They really do read your samples, so make sure they’re your best. I sent in quicky apps first, and was too lazy to look up real clips. I was denied by both. When I took the time to make my application sing, I was accepted by both.
4. Once you have some decent clips built up, start using your Writer’s Market to search out higher paying gigs. You don’t have to actually write the article until someone agrees to pay you. Just write a well-written letter describing your idea, and send it off. Doing a little research on how to write a decent proposal letter is well worth your time. This letter needs to make your first and only impression for your idea and your writing to a perspective editor. If you have a niche, or an idea for a run of articles, it’s not too difficult to build a relationship with a publication where you write regularly. A few years ago I had a nice little deal with a legal magazine where I wrote about legal news in my region on a monthly basis for them. That was a couple of hundred dollars each week that I didn’t have to fish for. Especially nice since I was a single mom at the time and a couple hundred dollars was my grocery money for the month.
5. Be kind to yourself. Don’t let rejections get you down. Being a writer is a lesson in rejection. I’ve been rejected so many times that I lost count long ago. But I’m here to tell you that one offer to publish you makes up for it. Just one. You’ll see.
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