There are plenty of ways to screw up in the early stages of your freelance writing career. The first way to do it is to give up and stop writing. A good 50% of your competition will give up and go away long before they make it to the freelancer’s dilemma of when to quit the day job.
In my mind, that’s mistake number one, but for those wise enough not to make THAT mistake there are plenty of others to trip you up. Here is a little list of the all-time worst mistakes you can make when actually going after those freelance jobs. If you’re like most writers, you’ve already made at least one of these mistakes starting out, but you can use this list to remind yourself NOT to do these things again—and often these lists inspire you to make lists of your own you can use to further push you in the right direction. Don’t wallow in self-pity if you make these mistakes, just grit your teeth and resolve to do better next time…
Brace yourself for some real doozies here, this is the real deal. Continue reading Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Freelance Writing Gigs
Now that it’s official and we are in a full fledged recession, many part-time freelancers are wondering whether it’s “safe” to go full-time. But some freelancers won’t have a choice when the layoffs hit; those who get forced out of their day jobs have little choice but to hit the trail hard and look for any paying gigs they can find.
Are you one of those suddenly out of a day job? Are you afraid you’ll become a statistic soon? If so, start ramping up your freelance income as much as possible by taking a hard look at some of these:
–Examine your current or former day job for potential. Are you working in an industry that has trade magazines? Even a fast-food worker has potential here. You may find your old job as a major source of income if you can take your experiences there and turn them into relevant articles for magazines published in your industry.
–Go back to your old employer and offer your writing services for their websites, press kits, etc.
–Start a blog. The “I just got laid off” theme is quite viable right now. Monetize it will Google ads and other programs, but don’t stop there. Smart bloggers in this topic will try to think of ways to build communities with other unemployed people who can pool resources and advice for the common good. Don’t just blog about your life, offer help to others even if it is just a show of support.
–Take advantage of your hobbies and creative pursuits. Are you an experienced model builder, amateur video fanatic or musician? Look for ways to ramp up your cash flow by taking advantage of your expereinces. Write an e-book or offer a service related to writing and your hobby. Are you a gamer? Do you love role playing games? Consider writing adventures or creating manuals for your favorite games. Dungeons and Dragons-type games can always use another monster guide or set of new adventures…they key is to take advantage of your knowledge of existing hobbies for immediate assignments.
–Teach a class. Does your local community center need someone experienced as a writer or a writer skilled in a particular area? You could wind up teaching what you know to supplement your income if you know where to look.
–Make cold calls. Call any business in your area of expertise and offer your writing skills for websites and other projects. Don’t think you have nothing to offer—if you know an industry well, you can apply your freelance writing skills to keep those paychecks rolling.
Note: After a few horrified responses to this post, I should point out that I am wearing the pointy hat for much of this screed…that is to say I may have actually DONE this, but remember that all editors are slightly crazy and I’d never expect anyone to seriously take this advice unless they are as much of a rabid workaholic and certified nutter as I am.
There is no one tried and true way to make the jump from part time to fulltime…except possibly ONE method, the one I tried myself with great success. (How egotistical is THAT? There’s no way to make it except MY way, HAH!) Yet, when I think about it, this is the only method I know that makes any sense at all IF you have a day job you need to dump with extreme prejudice, and want to get yourself into a freelance situation where you wake up and tell yourself that your job is getting in the way of your career.
Naturally it’s a painful, isolating and downright masochistic path to follow to fulltime freelance success, which is why many people shy away from it. And who can blame them? Do you really want to suffer for your dream? You’ll find out just how committed you are when you contemplate doing “the Crazy Joe Wallace Method”. Also known as “Leaving Las Vegas, For Writers.”
What you do is decide, sort of like Nicholas Cage in that uber-depressing movie, that you’re going to write yourself to death.
Well, not quite. The actual trick is to write so hard that you WISH you were dead, but manage to take care of yourself in the meantime enough to maintain your madness. What madness would that be? Continue reading How to Go Full Time as a Freelancer: Five Painful Steps
I used to write and talk in analogies…a LOT. Now, analogies feel like a pretty tired as a way of explaining things, but I’ll resort to one here because Dave Navarro’s Rock Your Day really does feel like a quad espresso injected directly into a vein.
This motivational site has a LOT going for it, and in particular Navarro’s willingness to buy and try books by other freelancers with sensational-sounding claims and try them out to see if they give the results they claim. Check out The Freelance Smackdown and see what I mean. You will feel at least slightly more caffeinated just reading this blog, or I’ll eat my hat.
I found this site courtesy of Freelance Folder, where Navarro has a guest post called Three Uncomfortable Ways to Make More Money as a Freelancer. Nice work…
I have been looking for more and more outrageous ways to sucker people into reading these screeds. While it’s true that there’s plenty of advice to dispense, there’s also a dire lack of (fun) sensationalism in the freelance writing blog community, so I thought I’d up the ante a little bit by injecting a bit of it here.
Today, in pursuit of said eye-grabbing sensationalist fun, I did a Google search on the term “the naked freelancer” just to see what would come up. I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, but I found several entries that made me laugh. For a start, somebody posted a gig on GetAFreelancer.com with the headline “Naked Nude Porn Picture Detector”. Believe it or not, this person (who would only pay up to $250 for such a thing) was actually looking for a “naked nude porn picture” BLOCKER. Or so the ad says.
Another bout of laughs–on purpose this time–came by way of FreelanceSwitch. Mary Beth Ellis posted a pictorial and essay called Day In The Life Of A Freelancer. Mary Beth exposes the REAL life of an experienced freelancer in this hard-hitting tell-all. Newcomers will be shocked by both the wake-up times AND the images of the kinds of research fulltimers get up to around 2PM. Mary Beth, you’ve outed us ALL. Except mine’s the Heineken, not the Chardonnay. Continue reading The Naked Freelancer
If you aren’t getting any responses in spite of sending query letter after query letter, it’s time to examine the root causes of the problem. There are three basic issues that could be roadblocking you:
1. The publication isn’t interested in your ideas.
2. The publication isn’t using freelancers at this time
3. Your query letter sucks and the editor is laughing at you.
The first two you can’t do much about. To fix #1, you need to read more of a particular magazine or website and try again once you’ve got a better idea of what they print. To fix #3, we need a closer look at your work.
“To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Editor” is your first mistake–and probably your last with that particular query letter. It shows a basic lack of research. What’s worse, it shows a lack of INTEREST in that research. An editor can spot your lazy ass coming a mile away. Yeah, it’s harsh of me to say, but it’s true. Now you know. Continue reading Not Getting Any Freelance Writing Gigs? Why Your Query Letter Sucks