Many of my Twitter followers read my tweets about meeting freelance deadlines and how happy I am to finish so I can return my focus to my WIP or research for my WIP. Such relief often can be misunderstood, even though it is always a wonderful feeling when I hit the ‘submit’ button and send an article to an editor, freelancing has made and continues to make me the writer that I am today. For that, I am grateful for the path I am on and because this is such a huge topic, I’m discussing it in a three part. Part two will be out tomorrow followed by part three on Sunday. But how did I get into freelance writing and what do I think?
I started freelance writing ten years ago during high school. I knew then, after too many injuries from my dance career, that I wanted to be a writer. The problem was that I wasn’t sure what kind of writer. At that time, I had recently won the National Scholastic Writing Competition with a short story but was told by teachers that I couldn’t make a living as a fiction writer (well, HA to that as now I’m sure trying!) I volunteered for free labor. I spoke to the local Chamber of Commerce and any small, local publications and wrote for free. It was a great experience and opportunity to have my writing seen by people outside of school.
I attended Baylor University, where I studied Journalism, Public Relations and Business Management; because remember, there is no money in fiction (a great example on how you shouldn’t always listen to your elders.) In one of my favorite PR courses, I was required to find a freelance position out in the community. Since, I use to dance and perform in theatre it was no surprise when I started working for a local and historically beautiful theatre house. And to make it better, they paid me to write for them! I would send articles to local publications about upcoming performances. I wrote press releases and held press conferences for the media. It was a wonderful experience.
After that job, finding work came easier. I began to write and get paid by several local publications. I queried a political PR topic to the Public Relations Society of America quarterly publication and was accepted. That was my first National published piece (and yes, I’m a dork it is framed.)
After graduation, I always continued to freelance part-time in addition to having “real jobs.” It did bring in money and I would use that for my “play” money. When my husband was transferred to Houston, I quit my job and had the luxury to be picky in my search. I didn’t find anything that I really wanted to do. I’ve always been the type that wants to love my work and nothing was standing out to me that was worth the pay. I decided to take my part-time freelance work and see how it would work as a full-time position. That’s when I began to write for Examiner.com and I still continue to write for local and National publications, as topics I query are accepted.
So here is the good and the ugly of the freelancing business!
1. For most, it starts out as volunteer work or with very little pay. You have to prove yourself and pay your dues.
2. Querying and finding contracts can be very draining.
3. The pay is not consistent. I have good months and not so good months but I keep trucking along.
4. It takes a lot of discipline and dedication to meet the deadlines and still make time for any other writing projects that you have such as fiction writing. You are your own boss.
5. There are no traditional benefits. For me this isn’t s big issue since I was married and my husband had benefits when I took this full-time.
1. I have the opportunity to cover topics and talk to amazing people that otherwise I wouldn’t have had the privilege to speak with.
2. I love the opportunity to learn about things. Having a curious nature, I believe is a must for a freelance writer.
3. It gives me the opportunity to see my work published. A thrill for any writer.
4. Through freelancing, I’m practicing my craft everyday and always learning and improving.
5. It gives me the flexible life that I love. I set my own hours, which is ideal for a working-from-home mom BUT this means that I must always stay on top of deadlines and writing goals.
For me, freelance writing has been an excellent step into becoming an author. For my debut book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ I was all ready accomplished as an interviewer and researcher that helped me greatly. My dog inspired that book, but I involved many families points-of-views, not wanting the book to be all about Oscar.
Freelancing introduces a writer to many different styles, which I’m finding is helping me with my fiction work. It also instill work ethic and proves to future editors and agents that you are capable of being professional and meeting deadlines. These are all great reasons why freelance writing can easily be a gateway to “authorhood” and other authors are experiencing success from the same path.
Tomorrow, I’ll be talking with award-winning author, Christie Craig who also followed a freelance writing path to “authorhood.” She writes sexy, suspenseful and seriously funny romantic fiction. Not that that was enough to keep her busy, she writes the YA paranormal Shadow Falls series and non-fiction for writers. Craig is funny and very insightful. She also, has a large and beloved family dog, Max so I can relate to her greatly! Check back tomorrow morning to read her thoughts on freelance writing.
Do you write freelance? How did you get started? Do you feel that this is helping or has helped your journey toward “authorhood,” if that is your goal?
This week, I was a guest at Joy Held’s Writer Wellness blog. Check out my “A-Musing” post and share what motivates you as a writer.
I have begun research and interviews for my next book in my non-fiction dog book series with Who Dares Wins Publishing. The topic is dogs and children and how to create introductions that will lead to positive and beneficial relationships for them both. Please email me at NatalieCMarkey.com if you feel you could contribute.
Check out ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ to learn easy, common sense ways to give your dog the best quality of life from the perspective of owners that are making it work. Your dog doesn’t have to have a disability to benefit from this book. Some dogs are “special” in many ways.
Some great blogs to follow:
http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer
http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jennifer Holbrook
http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb
http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.