Lots of people are interested in freelance writing, it’s a great way to build up a good reputation as a writer and get a great portfolio started. But the most common problem is not knowing where to start, you might have a great personal blog but one of the best things you can do is write for other publications.
Freelancing can be a way to work on your own time, and essentially be your own boss – it can be both frustrating and rewarding, but if you’re serious about writing it’s the best way to put yourself on the ladder.
Freelancing can be easy, but not well paid, so if you’re committed to having a go here are the basic fundamentals of freelance writing according to what I’ve learnt in the past few years.
#1 Find your niche.
Discover what kind of writing you really like to do, if it’s creative writing look for online journals that are open for submissions. Film or game review websites are always looking for new writers and lifestyle, fashion and opinion articles are highly sought after too.
#2 Check your quality.
Make sure the quality of your writing is high. Give anything you’ve written a once over to check for spelling and grammar, and make sure the tone fits in with any publications you’re considering applying to. When I edited a digital magazine, we got a lot of great content that was put together poorly, and it meant that some submissions didn’t get added simply because we didn’t have the time to go through and amend every good submission with bad spelling, grammar and punctuation.
#3 Join creative support sites.
Before you do any applying, join websites that will keep you up to date with news, and that focus on any issues that you face in the creative industry. My favourites are Spread The Word and IdeasTap.
#4 Forget money.
If you’re doing this for big money, stop now. It’s best to do freelance writing on the side at first, as it’s incredibly difficult to break through and start earning. In place of money, you’ll get exposure as a writer and something to put in your portfolio.
#5 Apply everywhere.
Searching Google for writing jobs in your area usually brings up a lot of hits, but that’s just the first thing you should do. Check Freelancer, use Twitter, look for zines or digital magazines and websites or blogs that you like and send speculative emails. I’m part of the CGD team simply because of a well-worded complimentary email I sent late one night after discovering the website, so go out on a limb and be both honest and professional.
#6 Make working from home work for you.
Don’t let working from home distract you, or make you feel as though you are not really ‘working’. Set up a schedule and stick to it, but also make sure you’ve planned time for breaks, and enough time for food. Also, your best content isn’t going to be written in front of the TV so make sure you have somewhere comfortable and appropriate to get writing.
#7 Know your rights.
Make sure you know whether your writing will still belong to you once you’ve submitted it. If a publication has the rights to your work, it means you can’t publish it elsewhere – which is particularly bad for creative pieces. Likewise, enquire whether a publication will take a piece that has been published elsewhere, some places only want original works and will not include you if they find the same piece anywhere else.
#8 Don’t isolate yourself.
Freelancing can often have no contact hours, with communication only taking place via email – so it’s easy to sometimes feel a little out of your depth or even a bit lonely. Make time to go out and don’t be afraid to voice any concerns you have with your ’employer’, the best thing you can do is be honest about your limits.
Cover image from Gh0st Parties