Freelance writing offers flexibility – and more media outlets are turning to freelancers for the big stories. Because of this, more and more people are beginning to either take part- or full-time work as a writer. Becoming a freelance writer can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Here is some simple advice to help you break into freelance writing.
- Write, Write, & Write Some More
- Make those Connections
- Start a Blog or Personal Website
- Open an Account with a Contributor’s Network
- Take Things Personally
- Forget to Understand Your Industry
- Be a Contrarian
- Forget to Archive Everything
Do’s – Explained
- Do Write, Write, & Write Some More
Freelance writing can be a challenging field to break into, though it can be done. The answer is something many college professors tell their students: just keep writing. More and more publications are turning to freelance writers if they don’t have enough staff to write stories and cover events, so there will be no shortage of freelancers opportunities.
- Do Make those Connections
Local newspapers and blogs are among the outlets always looking to offer assignments. Whether it’s a small community newspaper or a website with less than 5,000 unique monthly visits, if you have an opportunity to write, take it.
The more stories and articles you write, the more you are building for your portfolio. So don’t worry about how many people are reading your stories. You can always share them with your besties and grandma. But more importantly, you’re building yourself an excellent profile.
- Do Start a Blog or Personal Website
If media outlets aren’t your thing, or if you’re more of an opinionated person, you can always create your own platform with your very own blog. If you choose to go this route, your blog should only cover one industry (i.e., sports, music, food, travel, etc.). Focusing on one industry will help build your audience and, if you’re lucky, will create thought-provoking comments at the bottom of each blog.
You can also start a personal website, which could house your blog posts and your portfolio of past articles, a list of publications that ran your stories, and contact information (so media outlets can hit you up for story opportunities).
- Do Open an Account with a Contributor’s Network
Another way to get your work published is through contributor networks. News websites like Yahoo have contributor networks that offer story topics for you to cover, or you can write your own.
You would not get paid for posting stories on the Yahoo Contributor’s Network, but you may get paid if the article receives a significant amount of page views.
Don’ts – Explained
- Do Not Take Things Personally
Understand that most online articles now have message forums at the bottom. Some will share their thoughts on your story, whether they agree or disagree. Most commenters often write personal attacks that have nothing to do with your story.
It’s important not to take their comments so personally, and it’s also a good idea not to respond to those comments on the forum of your article. Take the good with the bad and just keep writing.
- Do Not Forget to Understand Your Industry
When we say just to keep writing, also keep in mind the industry you’re writing about. For example, if you are a former sportswriter, don’t try to cover other events such as theater and politics for the sake of adding more articles to your portfolio.
If you’re not knowledgeable in those fields, and if you don’t do your research, it will show in your stories. Stay with what you know, and it will pay off in the end.
- Do Not Be a Contrarian
There are columnists and shock jocks out there who like to give their opinion. And sometimes, it causes a storm within the message forums. If you have a strong opinion, it’s ok to share it.
But if you’re trying to go against the grain for the sake of starting an argument, it’s going to be more off-putting than thought-provoking. Stick to what you stand for and know that there will never be a consensus in agreement — or disagreement.
- Do Not Forget to Archive Everything
Believe us or not, it really pays to keep all of your stories. Not just so you have something to show should you interview for a full-time writing position, but you will also appreciate how far you’ve come as a writer.
Archive everything you have written, especially if it was published somewhere, even if it was simply written in the school newspaper or hung on your fridge because you were proud of it.
Freelance writing is a fun gig. You get to set your own schedules, as well as price lines. It can also be therapeutic, especially when you’re writing opinionated pieces.
Know that you have to start somewhere, and there’s nothing wrong with starting as a blogger. That term has changed a lot over the years. Blogs are no longer considered websites written by people with axes to grind.
More and more people are getting their news from blogs, which rely on freelance writers and contributors. In turn, more opportunities will present themselves to freelance writers. Good luck!