melanie johnston writer

Is Freelance Writing A Career: Basic Points To Consider


If you were ever a fan of Sex and the City – freelance writing seems like the perfect job. Carrie Bradshaw was a freelance writer for the fictitious, New York Star as well as fashion magazines, such as Vogue. She was the quintessential party girl – afforded the all the luxuries of life from her upper east side brownstone apartment to her hundreds of pairs of Manolo Blahnik’s –never seeming strapped for money or free time! What about some real life examples? Steven King was a writer submitting short stories to Playboy. Cameron Crowe started out following a band and submitting the story to Rolling Stone. Even Mark Twain started out as a freelance writer for the New York Saturday Press before he was hired full time.

Ready to get started? Here are five things to consider:

  1. Find your niche and like the niche you find. ‘Writing’ is a very broad term. It could mean anything from writing press releases to proposals/grants; biographies to resumes and everything between. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Don’t take a job writing about widgets if you hate widgets. One widget job will lead to another and before you know it, you are the widget king and not because you want to be.

  2. Get your samples together. Put together a portfolio of your best writing samples. Even if they are not specific to a current opportunity, generic samples are better than none at all.

  3. Leverage the experience you have. If you have a green thumb and all of your neighbors come to you for gardening advice, turn that into an opportunity to write articles about gardening. Home Depot has at least 50 different gardening magazines at the checkout counter – who knows, one of them may be looking for your remedy for ridding your garden of slugs naturally.

  4. Start out slow. Everyone wants that $5.00 per word/10,000 word job immediately – but slow and steady wins the race. Take smaller jobs initially – build relationships with editors, copywriters, administrators, everyone and keep in touch with them even when you aren’t working. It keeps you in mind for the next assignment.

  5. Set your rate. This is the hardest part – especially for new writers who may have no idea what to charge or even the going rate. Research and find out the rate for your area and experience. As you gain more experience, change your rates.

Freelance writing can definitely be career – just ask Stephen King or Cameron Crowe – or any of the thousands of freelance writers making a living right now. It may take time – and you may have to make adjustments along the way – but freelance writing can definitely be a rewarding – and lucrative – career.

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