by Carol Sponagle
If you’re just getting started in the freelance market, you already know how hard it can be to find freelance jobs. In the beginning, any work that pays can seem like good work. Experienced professional freelancers will tell you they’ve written blogs, articles, and books on a variety of topics, because you don’t make money being choosy.
Once you get rolling and you find publishers who call again and again, you might start to feel like you should be more discriminating. After all, why write about pets and motor homes when you really want to write about music?
A good reason not to discriminate is the lead. Any job, however small it seems, has the potential to generate more jobs. You may write a less-than-exciting piece for a small-time newspaper or website that doesn’t seem important career-wise, but don’t forget that editors know editors. A small job can lead to something bigger – and sometimes that bigger job is the one you’ve been after.
I gave this advice to a fellow freelancer and she said, “Carol, how would YOU know?”
My reply was, “I know because my first paid assignment was writing a guide to motor home toilets!”
Ask most experienced freelancers and you’ll hear the same story – and you’ll notice that those of us who stuck it out are still around. The motor home job led to several less-than-exciting jobs – but soon after, I landed a newspaper, a magazine, and an ongoing gig with a publishing company.
So, if you aren’t afraid to jump in, here are a few ways to send the message that you have the mojo to handle anything that comes your way:
- Blog, blog, blog – There are unlimited opportunities for blogging. Some won’t pay, but you can get published in a variety of markets.
- Offer to help non-profits with publications. A free service may turn into a lucrative assignment later.
- Suck it up and write about anything that pays. You can pay the bills AND call yourself a professional freelancer.
- Back up your work with credible sources, no matter how silly you consider the topic. Editors want to know that you are serious about your work and your reputation.
- Keep your attitude and behavior professional – regardless of the pay scale.
- Look on the bright side; you’ll have opportunities to learn about strange new topics.
- Once you get some experience, be sure your publishers know your specialty. Tell them outright or play up your experience in your auto signature.
- Keep an online resume and attach the link to your signature line.
Success in the freelance-verse depends on getting your name on the byline or in an editor’s address box, so don’t be a one-trick pony. Making an effort to write ‘across the board’ will help open doors to the jobs you really want, even if you have to write about toilets for a while.