So, youíve decided to take up a career in freelance writing. Youíve hooked up the computer, installed the printer, and learnt the nitty-gritty of your word processor. Youíve maybe even been published a couple of times. Youíre all set to conquer the world of publishing. But wait. Do you know all the options available to you?
Weíve compiled a list of all the jobs a freelance writer can find on the Internet to keep the cash inflow steady:
Most of the freelance writing industry focuses on magazines, so letís start there. Youíll find magazines on every topic imaginable. From teen issues to running, youíll find at least one magazine to fit your interests. But while magazine publishing is huge and widespread, donít try to get published everywhere at once. Find a few niche topics and start your way up from there. As your expertise and interests grow, branch out to other magazines as well. Topics most writers start out with include health and nutrition, computers, parenting, teens, relationships, disability, travel, etc.
Fillers in Magazines and Newspapers
Not all writers make it to the cover pages of magazines. At least not at first. In the beginning, you might just have to make do with fillers. And they pay as much as theyíre fun to do. Jokes, opinion pieces, short lists, news items and other short pieces are termed fillers. Editors are always on the lookout for good fillers, so you stand a good chance of breaking through.
With e-cards, paper greeting cards seem to have taken a backseat. Nevertheless, the sale of paper cards is still ongoing and they are still preferred when it comes to special occasions. Despite popular myths, greeting card markets are not as easy to break into as they seem, can take a long time to respond and an even longer time to get your card into print. The upside is that greeting card markets pay extremely well for short writing. Whatís more, though limited, opportunities exist for e-card writers too. So when you need to take a break from the regular work, dip your fingers into the greeting card pool
Doormats, Magnets, Bumper Stickers, T-shirts, etc
If youíve wondered how those words made it to t-shirts, stickers, doormats and magnets, think no more. Freelance writers are often required to write the slogans for such material and are paid quite well for it. If you have the ability to coin a catchy or humorous one-liner, this could be your shot to riches. You wonít get a byline, and certainly no fame, but you could be earning as much as $50 per word!
Theyíre up in your room, youíve seen them in your friendís office, and you often find a funny one at the fast-food place down the street. Someone must have written them. Why not you? A lot of companies sell posters and generate handsome sales from them. In fact, writers of posters are usually paid in royalties, that is, a percentage of each poster sold. So, instead of being paid one-time, youíll be paid over and over again for something you wrote years ago.
Practically every one needs a resume (yes, even us freelance writers). Some people write them up themselves, some prefer to take the help of professionals. Write up a resume for a friend or two at work (even if she doesnít need one!) as samples and respond to advertisements and calls for resume writers. Keep in mind though that resume writing isnít your regular every day writing. Youíre not supposed to decorate the page with flowery prose or funny anecdotes. You need to be professional, crisp and attention-grabbing. Practice with a few fake ones, and youíll soon be on your way.
Advertisers need writers, commonly known as copywriters. Theyíre the flesh and blood of the campaign. Getting into advertising can be a tricky business, but with a few credentials and a polished resume, youíll have no trouble at all showcasing your talent to the world. If you are indeed good at what you do, advertisers will line up to get you to work for them. If you prefer not to work for someone, you could set up your own copywriting business and promote it to get clients.
With the Internet revolution finally having realized in its full form, small and big companies alike are looking for writers to write content for their websites. Not only do these companies pay well, but they also give the writer a much-desired break. If youíve written website copy, youíll have no trouble finding more assignments of the same kind. Simply guide the prospective client to the website and heíll know what kind of work he can expect from you. Aim for start-up companies at first. Theyíll usually hand over the whole work to you and you can make a great portfolio.
E-books are not here to replace print books. Theyíre here to provide an alternative resource for distribution. However, as opposed to print books, e-books are short, contain lots of web links and usually provide answers to a customerís immediate needs. They can be downloaded off the Internet in seconds, and you can profit from a single e-book long after youíve written it. Donít get fooled though-- writing e-books takes just as much time and dedication as writing print ones. Itís only the mode of delivery thatís different.
Online newsletters, or e-zines as they are frequently called, are becoming the rage of the publishing industry. Many of these e-zines are paying markets and run regular features and columns. Many of them have associated website,s too. While the pay in this market is less, youíll be writing shorter articles in much less time.
Generally, when we think of newspapers, we think news. But newspapers hold a lot more information than that. With regular columns, reviews and updates, latest findings, and point-of-view articles, newspapers are the writerís best bet. And if youíve gained entry into one section of the newspaper, the other sections of writing open up to you automatically. Though slow on the income, getting published in your local daily is still a major ego-booster!
There are many households and small companies that publish newsletters. And all the more are springing up each day. These newsletters are a great way to break into freelancing and gather clips. Their requirements are not as tough to meet as those of magazines and most editors are quite quick in their response times. To add to that, some newsletters also pay quite well, sometimes almost as much as small magazines.
If itís the fame youíre after, you wonít get it here. But you can earn a decent amount of money ghostwriting memoirs, books or even articles for people who donít want to or canít write themselves. Ghostwriters are quite in demand today with more and more people trying to preserve their family history by getting memoirs or biographies written. However, apart from the money, thereís nothing else. You donít get the credit, the fame or sometimes, even the byline.
The prospects for writers today are immense provided youíre ready to experiment in different areas. The Internet has made it easier than ever to find writing assignments not only in your own country, but around the world. A simple e-mail is all it takes to apply for a job and send in the assignment.
Itís easy for a freelance writer to get stuck doing the same old thing over and over. Itís not only fun, but sometimes necessary to introduce a little spice into your writing routine. If youíve been writing articles all your life, try doing some greeting card writing instead. If the money is slow, and you could really use some extra money, apply for a resume writer job. If the book manuscripts are lying unsold, try selling short stories for a change.
With a little variation now and then, youíll not only find your income shooting up, but also your inspiration. So next time you find yourself waiting for word on that manuscript, send out a few short pieces instead. Itíll definitely be worth the effort.
About The Author
Mridu Khullar is the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com, a free online magazine for writers. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to get a complimentary e-book with 400+ paying markets. Also check out her e-book, "Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer's Guide to Query Letters That Sell," available at http://www.writerscrossing.com/queries.html
This article was posted on January 22, 2005