How To Succeed As A Freelance Writer

Writing professionally isn't about to be most people's practical first choice for a career. Unlike dishwashing, bussing or a practical job along those lines, you are not being paid by the hour. You're not doing nights or a day shift - you produce an effort and then recieve a stipend for your effort that can vary dramatically based on who you are writing for and what they required of you. For one article, throughout my career, my range of pay has literally varied from nothing to $250 per item. Internet or no internet, it's always been like this for a freelance writer - the classic 1953 film Half a Hero depicts Red Skelton as Ben Dobson, a writer who finds himself living far beyond his means in order to provide for his wife and family.

So, why do it when you could so easily get a stable job in a kitchen or at a hotel, amongst other more stable occupations? Well, for one, if you were either cursed or blessed (depending on your point of view) with the writing spell early in life, you may find you have no choice. Just as many musicians starve to maintain their outlet, creativity grabs you and doesn't let you go, no matter how much more stable and predictable another occupation might be. In addition, you get to do things few people get to do, including the fulfillment of childhood dreams.

Freelance writing helped me to acheive a number of dreams. The most prominent for me personally was being able to interview JC Lee, the daughter of Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, when she visited the Bay Area to promote at the San Francisco Comic Con. When I was a child, I would often watch interviews with her father, read magazines and imagine myself writing about him. While I didn't get to meet Stan "The Man" himself, meeting someone so strongly connected to him and getting paid to write about it was something I never expected to do.

Don't Take Rejection Personally

In his hit song "White America," famed rapper Eminem rapped about how no labels wanted to sign him and his initial efforts were a horrible failure. "I almost gave up," he says, until he met Dr. Dre, who gave him a chance. While the average freelance writer isn't about to reach the level of a phenomenous rapper like him, that anecdote is a good example of how meaningless rejection is. The people who reject you might accept you later on or pass you off for someone much better to pick you up. 

After abruptly losing a job with a transcription company, with no explanation why (my ratings showed me to be a great employee), I spent several months just aimless, doing little work beyond my rudimentary responsibilities. When I finally put energy in to my work again, I got several dream assignments. Life is difficult for everyone and we all share the same challenges.

Create Relationships

I really cannot express how important professional relationships are. I once wrote for a current affairs magazine where, despite getting paid a fair amount, it really did feel as if my work was getting lost down some sort of a rabbit hole. I inquired about writing there, the editor said they needed writers, I came up with an idea and wrote it, then sent it, and then received money after sending an invoice. There was no dialogue and was doing it all myself.

In contrast, for the past year, I have been blessed with writing for The Western Edition, one of San Francisco's most prominent neighborhood newspapers. While there, my editor encouraged and then helped me to become a professional photographer. She instructed me on buying a good camera then practicing using it and even bought equipment for me. Having an interactive mentor meant everything - it makes work less impersonal and gives you more reason to continue.

Become an Accountant

Here's one brutal secret about freelance writing and publishing in general - while there are many publishers who are forthright about reimbursing their clients, there are a good amount who would have you write for free if they could. It's your responsibility to make sure you don't end up doing so. PayPal allows the creation of invoices that allow people to send money directly to your PayPal account, while there are also invoice templates for Office programs. This can be nervewracking to shove in the face of an employer for the first time but if you aren't being compensated, even according to a meager budget, you should move on. For the right gig, it shouldn't be a problem.

Freelance writing is fun and allows you to express your enthusiasm to the wider world. Don't allow the storm that the internet brought to publishing be an impediment to pursuing a career in media - it will always remain something there is a demand for and if your voice is strong and steady enough, someone will want to hear it.