Yes, new writers can start freelancing and successfully break into the market. These ten tips to make money writing will help writers establish and maintain good freelance career habits and keep the bucks rolling in.
Before the tips, a quip:
“For every writer who makes a good living, there are 50 or so who simply make a little spare change and 5,000 who go nowhere at all,” said Isaac Asimov. “And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.”
Oh, Isaac….say it ain’t so! I’m sure there are PLENTY of things writers can do to increase their chances of getting published and making money writing…I believe we have much more control over our writing careers than “nothing.”
That’s what these tips for starting freelancing are all about…
10 Tips for New Writers
Treat your freelance writing career like a business
I know it’s possible to make more than $30,000 as a new writer in your first year of freelancing full-time – because I did it. And, for three months of that year, I only freelanced part-time. I didn’t realized it was my business, and I’m finally reading books on being an entrepreneur. If I’d read those books when I first started freelancing, I might have doubled my income. Running a freelance writing career like a small business is the key to making money writing because it teaches writers how to be client-focused, professional, and organized.
Find your freelance writing personality
By “freelance writing personality”, I don’t mean style or voice. I mean how you run your business. Read everything you can about how to be a freelance writer and how to run a small business, and then do what works for you. For instance, I never snail mail queries with clips. I only use email. This may limit my chances of getting article assignments, but I find it more efficient and productive to use email. I’m not suggesting you should only email query letters; rather, I’m encouraging you to find what works for you. The best way for new writers to start freelancing is to experiment and find what works for them.
Keep your clip file updated – even for new writers
My clip file consists of two separate lists of my online and print articles on my website, The Adventurous Writer. Lately, though, I’ve been a bad freelance writer — I haven’t been updating it weekly. Even if you don’t send clips with your query letters, put your clip file on your website and keep it updated! This shows that you’re busy-but-organized. If you’re a new writer without clips, read
Accept article edits and rejections gracefully
Editors request changes, change requests, and sometimes revamp whole entire articles in-house. Sometimes they reject article pitches or book proposals with a form letter – and sometimes you see your idea plastered on the cover of their magazine a couple months after you pitched it! (Though I believe ideas are rarely stolen). You’ll earn alot more money as a freelancer if you learn from your editors and publishers instead of fighting or complaining.
Keep accurate records and spreadsheets
Successful freelance writers are meticulous about who they pitched when, which email address they used, who the editor was, what the response was, etc. To build a healthy freelance career, you need to be organized to a fault. Always update your information right after you pitch query letters or win article assignments. Play with spreadsheets for invoices and payments until you find what works for you.
Track industry trends
A practical tip for money hungry writers is to stay up-to-date on the current publishing news, magazine changes, and industry events. Subscribe to at least one writing magazine or freelancing blog that offers more than encouragement to writers. Talk to your peers (Twitter for writers is great for this!) - find out what’s going on in the freelancers’ world. And, keep reading current issues of the magazines you want to write for. They change, and successful writers are aware of those changes.
Sharpen your networking skills for writers
Connect with successful freelance writers, entrepreneurs, editors, virtual assistants, publishers, and bloggers. You’re running a small business, and you need to learn about marketing, promotion, and best business practices. Networking with other writers and entrepreneurs will give you valuable information, both professionally and personally.
Keep improving your writing, editing, and freelancing skills
You don’t need to be a “natural” writer – nor do you need a journalism degree – to make money writing. But, you need to realistically assess whether your writing skills need work or your query letters need a whole new approach. To improve your writing skills, read high-quality, high-profile articles, books, magazines, and blogs. Same goes for improving your freelancing and small business skills.
Stay motivated to write
Many aspiring freelance writers give up after a few months, or after their first rejection or two. They earn .10 cents a word, and don’t strive to find the tipping point that takes them from a struggling freelancer to a busy writer who turns down assignments and projects. It doesn’t take much for money hungry writers to prove Isaac Asimov wrong — they stay motivated to write despite obstacles, setbacks, sticky family situations, and health problems.
Be as emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy as possible
It doesn’t matter what type of career you have, or whether or not you’re an entrepreneur: if you’re not healthy, you won’t succeed. Get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food, and exercise your body and brain regularly. Deal with your mental and emotional issues — because they will hold you back. Don’t ignore your personal or professional problems — get and stay healthy and grounded.
For more tips for new writers, read Want More Writing Jobs? 5 Ways to Set Yourself Apart as a Writer.
If you’re ready to take your writing to the next level (i.e., actually pay a few bills with the money you make), read 88 Money-Making Writing Jobs by Roberty Bly.
He also wrote Secrets of a Freelance Writer, Third Edition: How to Make $100,000 a Year or More — another great book on earning a living as a scribe.
Are you a new writer who is just starting a freelancing career? Please comment or ask questions below…