Freelance Writing Reality Check
The Hard, Bitter Truth
I am not here to sugarcoat this message. I think writers need to know the facts before they consider going into the freelance writing field. It is better that you learn from me now than after you quit your day job and find yourself knee high in bills without income.
Toss aside the delusions that freelance writing is glamorous. WRONG!
Toss aside the delusions that freelance writing is a lovely stroll in the park during your spare time. WRONG!
Let me ask you this: what are your monthly living expenses? One thousand dollars? Fifteen hundred dollars? Two thousand?
If you made $50 selling a magazine article, you would have to write AND sell 20 of them to meet your expenses of one thousand dollars…each month! Twenty magazine articles per month or about one per work day.
What do you think the chances are of you pulling that off?
Can you say zero?
Nobody can do it! The most established freelancers in the business have about a 30% success rate for magazine pitches.
So, should you give up your silly notion of ever being a successful freelance writer? Of course not; you just need to learn how to play the game with the big boys, and I’m here to help you learn the freelance game so you can survive. Read on and you just might learn how to meet expenses and have money left over to go to McDonald’s for lunch one day each week.
Put in the Time
If you are going to do this full-time then you need to treat it like a full-time job. What’s a full-time job in the real world? Forty hours? Now add ten to twenty hours and you have the schedule of a full-time freelance writer.
I work ten hours each day five days per week and another five to ten on weekends….fifty-two weeks per year….and that’s after recently cutting back on my hours.
Whatever distractions you may have around your household, they need to be eliminated. If you were working for someone else in an office downtown you could not stop working to handle personal phone calls and shopping and doing the laundry. The same holds true if you are a freelancer at home.
If you are a freelance writer you need this book
Things to consider
- Are You A Writer With A Vision And A Plan?
Like a ship without a rudder, some writers have no direction or means to gain one. These thoughts might steer you on a successful course.
Become a Fast Writer
Sitting around staring out the window lamenting the infamous writer’s block is not a scenario that is conducive to making money. You will not pay your bills if you do not write. You will not have money to eat if you do not write. You will be homeless if you do not write.
If you are waiting for inspiration as a freelance writer then the hours waiting are hours lost.
You must write. You must write often. You must write quickly.
Eliminate lost time by having everything you need organized and nearby. Have supplies handy. Have reference material handy. Have files handy and contact lists handy and…and….and….then write!
Organization is huge. I have files with former contacts, editors and other office people I have been in touch with in the past. I have my Writer’s Market close by. I have a list of topic ideas that grows faster than the national debt. I have a book of quotes for inspiration. In other words, everything I need to write is close by so that all I have to do is….write and write quickly. And while we are at it, forget about writing the perfect article. Write a very good article and move on. Freelance writers do not have time for perfection.
A realistic viewpoint
Food for thought
- Freelance Writing Tips and Suggestions
A plethora of ideas about the writing business. A veritable blizzard of suggestions for those who are snow blind.
Remember our discussion early on about how many articles it would take to meet expenses? Well the simple truth is that a freelance writer cannot meet those standards, but the money to survive has to come from somewhere, so where does it come from?
A variety of sources!
I make $600 each month writing blog entries for businesses. Combined those blogs take me about ten hours each week. I also make passive income from articles that I wrote for a writer’s online community called HubPages, and that is income that continues to stream in and increase with each passing month.
The opportunities are out there; you just have to find them. Have you ever done a newsletter? I make $250 each month doing two real estate newsletters.
Have you written an online book? Consider it! I know a writer who does ten articles per week and two ebooks per month. Have you tried advertising copy or ghostwriting? Have you tried educational materials or handbooks? Have you tried public relations materials or press releases or resumes or sales letters or editing? I have another friend who combined photography and writing and now sells her own inspirational cards featuring wildlife photos and captions that she has written.
You have all heard the old saying about not putting all of your eggs in one basket. Well we raise six chickens, and four of the hens like to use the same nesting box, and invariably one egg is broken after the four of them finish laying. Freelance writing is a bit like that. If all of your efforts are put into one type of enterprise, you just might find yourself short eggs at the end of the day. If you can figure out that metaphor/simile you are a better person than I am.
Plan on Being a Stalker
“Build it and they will come.” Well, that’s a real nice thought, but it’s about as realistic as the Easter Bunny. Yes you should have a website and yes you should be working on building your platform. Yes you should improve your writing and yes you should network….but….
You still have to go out and stalk customers like a famished lion on the savannah.
Remember those two real estate newsletters I mentioned earlier? I snagged those by sending emails to every single real estate company in our county….one hundred and forty-two emails! I recall it took me close to two days of full-time emailing to cover everyone on the list. I received twelve responses and from those twelve I snagged two jobs that provide a very nice residual income each and every month.
Did you know that nearly every church publishes a newsletter? Just sayin’……
I will make an admission right now: I hate stalking clients, but one thing I hate more than that is not eating. Perspective is a wonderful thing, is it not?
Join me on my writing blog
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Tips, suggestions, helpful sites and reference material, all for free for all writers.
Are you a freelance writer?
Enough for Today’s Reality Check
By now I have either scared you off or made you more determined. Either one is acceptable. Only those determined to make it and willing to put in the work need apply for this freelance writing position. There is nothing easy about it and there are many times when you will wonder if you are going to make it. Remember, too, that once you have made it; once you have earned enough income to cover your expenses for the month; you have to do the same thing next month, and the next month, and the next….
So lace up those boots and get ready for some hard work. The funny thing is that for those of us who love writing, this really isn’t work at all. It is at worst a labor of passion and at best a trip to the candy shop, and really, how cool is that?
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”