Freelance writing as a full-time occupation currently faces some scary times; will our current economic problems start affecting how much work is available? If magazines and online publishers start cutting back their budgets, what does a poor freelancer do? Here are ten ways to diversify your freelance career to keep those checks rolling in even when times are tough:
10. Branch Out. Have you been toying with adding digital photography to your skill set? Graphic design? Newsletter writing? Any of these additional skills make you more marketable AND give you great source material for opening up new freelance writing markets in trade mags and industry-specific websites.
9. Volunteer. That’s right, I am suggestion you work for free. As well as the altruistic side of things, you might discover another untapped resource for articles and advice pieces. You might even get plugged in to the for-pay part of a non-profit or charity group once they find out you are a professional writer–especially if you are willing to be flexible with your rates to help out.
8. Teach Classes. Does your local community center need a guru who can teach people how to write better cover letters and resumes? You don’t have to set yourself up as a freelance writing teacher–just show people how to write better in vital areas such as job seeking, employee evaluations, even the art of “romantic communication” might be a fun community center class you can teach. The key to these types of classes is knowing how to market your class properly to interest the people in your neighborhood.
7. Hook Up With A Temp Agency. Call your nearest temp service and explain about your writing business. Find out what you need to do in order to be listed as a writer/proofreader/editor and give it a try.
6. Learn The Art of Newsletter Writing. Every business with an online presence should have a newsletter blast, and many companies do NOT have the time or resources to devote to this absolutely critical part of the business. Can you sell a company on the notion they NEED a newsletter? Can you do some cold calling? If so, you are already halfway to getting into a lucrative sideline. If not, go check out the business section of your local Borders or B&N and see what you can learn. This could be a pot of gold, depending on your location.
5. Start Blogging. If you are not a blogger, start doing your own blogs and check out the job boards in places like Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger.net. Granted, professional blogging is side income for most, but for some dedicated and prolific writers, it can be much more.
4. Take Another Look at Your Freelance Writing Business. What are you currently doing that you could take to the next level? Are you writing for small and medium markets on the same topics on a regular basis? Why not take that expertise and try to land a bigger name? A dollar-per-word article in a name publication might just be the stepping stone you need to move into that arena on a more regular basis. Trust me, once you land one or two of them, you’ll get the bug. Pick a topic and simply DECIDE you’re going to move into a larger market than you’ve been working it in. See what happens, you might be surprised at the results.
3. Use Your Contacts. Do you know someone in another industry who might be in need of a writer? How about a cousin or uncle who might know someone who does? You can spin this in a variety of ways, but at the very least, try to get a recommendation from someone in another industry to the powers that be in the company in reference to your writing skills. You never know when a company might need some copy, a newsletter, or a contribution to an in-house trade publication. Some companies might even consider paying you to write training manuals or orientation materials, especially if you’re related to somoene who works there.
2. Be a Consultant. Small business owners know a great deal about what makes their business work, but often far less about how effective writing can further their business. Check out Craigslist.com in areas beyond the Writing/Editing section and you might just discover a whole new universe of needs out there. There are many people who advertise seeking expertise rather than full-time help. What can you offer your local neighborhood? Create some marketing materials and get yourself established in the ‘hood as someone who can help local companies reach more customers with good writing in ads, newsletters, FAQ sections, etc.
1. Market Yourself Well. Your own PR machine should go beyond query letters. Send out press releases to your local paper when you hang your shingle out as a writer, especially if you want to attract the attention of locals who might pay you to do articles, online copy, marketing materials and other work. Blow your own horn and tell the world you write for a living.
You’ll notice not many of these tips are about article writing. In bad times when budgets get tight, you need to find new ways to use your current skills. If the industry is unfriendly to freelancers, it’s up to you to find ways to pay the bills while you wait for those query letters to come back. Sometimes we have to take little side journeys to get paid, these techniques will help you stay full-time and keep the bill collectors at bay.