Thank you for sticking with me these last few days as I’ve attempted to share what knowledge I have gained as a freelance writer. Don’t miss part 1, where I discussed my personal journey as a freelance writer, plus to good and the ugly of the business. In part 2, I spoke with award-winning author Christie Craig on her personal journey from freelance writer to author. Today, I’m discussing the transition from freelance career to “authorhood” and when to say no to articles. I’ll also share some suggestions on how to get started if you want to freelance.
Christie Craig said yesterday that she no longer writes freelance since she is writing four books a year. I’m not there yet but I too am starting to feel the pressure of too much writing and not enough time. My solution? I prioritize based on contract obligations. I’ve been writing for local Houston magazine off and on for seven years. They have been good to me and I like loyalty, so they will be the last that I quit. I also, write many articles a week for Examiner.com but I have scaled back on local columns with them due to time constraints. I continue to write weekly for my Special Needs Dog Care Examiner column and my The Mortal Instruments Examiner column. You may see a pattern here. The first ties directly into my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog.’ I count this as easy marketing that I can control. The second keeps me in the loop among the active young adult community, which is another genre that I write in.
Currently, I will not take on anymore contract writing assignments. Other than what I mentioned, I write to guest blog articles promoting my material and furthering my network. I also query topics related to what I’m writing to specific magazines, but these would all be the one time gig. It is easy to over commit yourself and lose sight of your real goal.
Do you want to be a freelance writer forever? I don’t but like Christie Craig, I appreciate what it is teaching me and using such skills to make me a stronger and more marketable author.
So how do you get started in freelance writing? In part 1 of this blog series you learned how I got started while still in school. I know some of us can’t go back and get that time but it’s never too late to set goals and strive to reach them. I recommend the following:
1. Write a letter with your qualifications and some topic ideas that you have for a local magazine. Be sure and write something that lets the editor know that you read the magazine. Off some suggestions to make it better and how you can help contribute to that.
2. Research local and National publications that cover topics you are interested in. Focus on publications that accept queries. A query is a letter suggesting a topic giving away some details but without writing the entire article. You will also share your credentials in such a letter. I am not a fan of publications that require a full article for consideration. This takes up a significant amount of your time and could be for nothing. I do understand the value in finishing a manuscript prior to querying but not with a feature article.
3. Be persistent, not annoying. There is one magazine that I’ve always wanted to be featured in (I’m not saying which one!) My topics have never matched up with their issue goals. I’ve had bad timing but I resend new ideas along with reminding them of my old ones twice a year. Maybe someday it will pay off and I’ll write a big blog post about it!
4. Set aside a certain amount of time for freelance research. I’m always looking for publications that would be a match for topics that I write on and speak on.
5. Never lose sight of your main goal. My main goal is to be an author. Long before my first book was published, I kept a sticky not by my workspace that said, “AUTHOR.” This way I always remembered the BIG picture and didn’t get lost among the articles.
I hope that this blog series was helpful for you. Next week I will return to my usual Wednesday and Friday posts. Since these posts were all closely related, I wanted them coming out back to back.
Do you write freelance? How did you land your first article?
Take a deep breath and remember your real writing goal. Many of us use stepping-stones to reach goals but don’t get lost among those steps. A fantastic read is “Warrior Writer: From Writer to Published Author” by Bob Mayer. I thought I was organized, but this book really shaped my writing process so that I keep things on track to reaching my big picture goals.