By: Darren Krause
You have dreamed of the freedom of being a freelance writer for some time. Being able to set your own schedule, choose your own jobs and write the material that you want to write - yes, it certainly has its perks. I love being a freelancer writer, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. Well, I would change some things, but, I digress.
As I search the freelance writing job boards for someone to help me pick up some extra writing assignments, I notice that there are a lot of novice freelance writers trying to break into the market. I was there once, and I didn't like it much. I started doing this back when the whole search engine article craze and the e-books weren't around - to be a freelance writer you had to do it the old fashioned way - query. This wasn't so bad, and I learned a tremendous amount along the way. And still, if you want to freelance write for most major (and minor) publications, they still require a query letter. But, we aren't going to get into that yet.
One of the biggest roadblocks facing a freelance writer who is trying to break into the market are credits - or as many in the business would call them - bylines. Many of you out there just wanted to be a freelance writer but you have never been published anywhere except your community newsletter. Well, funny as it sounds, that's not a bad place to start. And that is where I come to my first tip: To get a start, write for anyone. Of course, exercise good judgement in deciding what you write, but if you are serious about being a freelance writer, then it almost doesn't really matter.
You can write for your church newsletter, the high school paper, even a well written letter to the editor of your local newspaper is a good clip to keep. When clips are hard to come by as a novice freelance writer, then each one of these counts. Not only that, but each time you write, you learn and you get better at your craft.
As an example, I have been writing since I was 16-years-old. I have written short stories, plays, essays, and even couple of notebooks full of poetry. I never really tried to submit any of it anywhere - always the fear of rejection to stop me (every freelance writer has to deal with it, so get used to it early). But, I learned how to write, and I kept on writing more. When I got my first job as a reporter for a local newspaper, I did it using my short stories and a couple of editorial pieces as my portfolio, along with one magazine credit. I had no degree and I had no post-secondary education whatsoever to fall back on. I was as green as they get. But, I got the job. I had clips that proved to publisher and editor that I could produce quality writing.
I eventually made it to editor of that paper, and penned over 1,000 articles in two years. Now I have all of the clips that I want. Not only that, but it was the springboard for me to make the successful jump into freelance writing. As far as freelance writing goes, I would have to say that I took the long way. But, I wouldn't change anything. Earlier I eluded to the freelance writing market for search engine articles, e-books, and there are also web articles. In my freelance experience, these types of assignments are two things: 1.) A dime a dozen, and 2.) Not from major publications. You can find hundreds of people looking for freelance writers, just because they can't write these articles or e-books themselves. So, how can these assignments help you break into the freelance writing market? Again it boils down to credits. Sure, once you write one e-book you aren't going to turn many heads. But, once you have written over 50 e-books like I have, people start to notice that you are a capable freelance writer. The point here is, you can build your portfolio and you skills by doing work that isn't necessarily glamorous. The only downside is that these jobs typically don't pay great wages.
For a freelance writer to make it today is a tad easier than it was a decade ago. Anyone who does keyword assignments, web copy, and short e-books calls themselves a freelance writer. And that is perfectly OK - it gets you the freelance writing credits you need to land the bigger assignments. Hopefully, they endeavor to be more than a keyword lackey for the rest of their lives, though. And most good freelance writers will rise above that in their career. Keep writing!