Tuesday, September 13, 2016

4 Things You Need To Know About Freelance Writing

Are you curious about freelance writing? Have you wondered: Would I be good at that?

A surprising number of people have aspirations to write. Some, of course, just want a forum to rant. While others have dreams of the next great American novel. 

I've always liked writing. When I was in high school, I wrote for the school newsletter (Our school was so small we didn't even have a newspaper. Pathetic, I know.) and wrote dorky pieces for a retirement center where I did some volunteer work. The old people appreciated my scribblings; a classmate was mocking. I can't remember what he said - I just remember that he said it. In fairness, the piece was meant to be humorous and I'm not funny. Wasn't then. Am not now. Still, his words stung. (Also, I think I wrote about ants, and, well, ants don't exactly scream natural hilarity - especially to sophisticated high schoolers.)

My writing has always felt like an extension of me. Even when I write about generic topics, it always feels very personal. I read somewhere that writing is making yourself vulnerable in public - I agree. Somehow, my writing feels just as personal, if not more so, than public speaking

Which leads me to four things you need to know about freelance writing. 

1. You have to put yourself out there. I don't make a full-time salary freelance writing. Heck, I don't even make a part-time salary from writing. There are a lot of reasons for that. But one of the reasons is that I haven't been as pro-active as I could about finding work. As much as I'd like to believe that my obvious literary genius will bring me work, it hasn't (although having a blog as helped to plump up my writing portfolio). If you want to find work, you have to seek it out.  

Which leads me to my next point. 

2. You have to make friends with rejection. Last week, I got an 11-minute rejection email. No kidding. On the one hand, I was extremely appreciative that this particular editor didn't leave me hanging, as so many do. (I don't know of another industry where it's considered an acceptable practice to simply ignore people. As in, to not even send a canned response. But, I digress.)

On the other hand, I hadn't even finished drinking the cup of coffee that I had started when I sent this editor a submission email. It wasn't that the body wasn't even cold yet, the coffee wasn't even cold. (See. I told you - funny isn't really my thing. Also, if you’re curious as to how I know it was 11 minutes, it’s because Gmail tells you.)

But after I got over the very decisive "no thanks," I sent the piece elsewhere. It's been a week and I haven't heard anything back from this other publication. So that's a good thing. Or maybe it's a bad thing. The point is, sometimes it’s a numbers game. You've got to keep at it. One man’s emphatic “no way” is another man’s life-changing “yes, please.” 

3.  You have to be decent at grammar, but not great. Editors, oddly enough, care about commas and the like. So you need to pay attention to grammar. Although I try, grammar is not my strongest suit. In response to a request for feedback, someone recently told me to make friends with the semi-colon. It was good advice. 

Even though the rules for who vs. whom often confound me, I'm getting published. And the more I write, the better at self-editing I become. (Also, Grammarly is a good friend to have.) 

4. You need good resources. I’ve been dabbling with freelance writing on and off for about a year now. In that time, I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade. I’m here to tell you about them, so that you don’t flounder around unnecessarily like I did.  

The blog Beyond Your Blog has been a great resource for me. (I wrote about it here.) Through Beyond Your Blog, I found Horkey’s Handbook. Gina Horkey offers basic, but extremely useful, step-by-step information on how to get started, including places to source freelance writing jobs. Today and tomorrow, her book is free on Amazon. If you’re even remotely interested in freelance writing, I suggest you check it out. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post Jessica - great tips! And thanks for linking to me. :-)