Is it possible to work only weekends and still be a real writer? Denene Brox says yes! Today she shares some of her tips with FZ readers. Even if you want to go full-time, you’ll probably find them useful. Here’s a little Q & A with Denene.
What are the top three suggestions you have for people who want to get started working as a freelancer on the weekends?
One–Treat it like a business. In the beginning you won’t get paid until you start selling your work, but you still have to treat it like a business and present yourself professionally to editors.
Two–start! I know that sounds crazy, but lots of people are going to try freelance writing someday. There’s no better time than now to get started if you want to be a writer.
Three–don’t quit your day job. You’ll need a steady income while you build your business.
How can you structure your time effectively when you are just working two days per week?
Weekend writers should know how much time they want to devote to writing and only take on what they can handle. Marketing will account for much more time than actually writing articles, so writers have to be focused and set aside time to work on query letters. Writing queries isn’t paid work – they only pay off when you land an assignment.
So just know up front that you’ll be spending most of your time, especially in the beginning, on marketing. The good news is that you have all of that flexibility to work when you want to. If you want to set aside Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons to focus on writing, you can. Or, if you are a night owl and want to work on queries at midnight, you can do that too. I always advise writers to make sure that they meet their deadlines when on assignment.
You may not have to be structured like a 9 to 5 job, but you should take writing deadlines seriously.
How do you know how many projects to take on when you are working on weekends only?
How many projects you can handle will depend on your own personal situation. For me, that was usually two or three assignments at any given time. If your day job is grueling and stressful, perhaps working on one assignment will be plenty. Or perhaps writing personal essays will be a more relaxing way to write so that you’re not on deadline and don’t have to interview sources. You learn your own pace and comfort levels after you’ve been writing for a while. You have to sort of “learn by doing”.
Do you have any tips for writing queries?
The hardest thing for me about writing queries is coming up with a unique way to spin ideas. For instance, most women’s magazines focus on dieting. As a writer you have to come up with catchy ways to spin dieting.
One article I wrote was “Surprisingly Healthy Foods,” which focused on foods that you think aren’t healthy, but actually are. It was a different spin on healthy eating. Also, you have to really target your queries to the right publication and the right editor. Nothing will derail you faster than sending pitches that are wrong for a publication.
What are the most important things you have to be aware of when you are trying to get started working on weekends?
The most important thing to remember is that it takes time. If you don’t want to give up your evenings or weekends, writing may not be for you. That’s not to say that you’ll devote every weekend to writing–there has to be balance or else you’ll experience what I call “weekend writer burn-out.”
If you think about it, if you’re working a full-time job AND building a writing career, that’s a lot of work. Making sure that you don’t go overboard is important. Like I said before, avoid taking on more than you can reasonably handle.
Denene Brox is a professional freelance writer and author of the e-book, The Weekend Writer: Launch Your Freelance Writing Career (Part-Time). Her work has appeared in more than 20 publications and web sites including Heart & Soul, Minority Nurse, Community Banker, MyBusiness, QSR, and Yahoo! HotJobs. Visit her online at www.WeekendWriter.net.