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Freelance Writing Tips from the Homeplace - C

Updated on August 13, 2014
Homeplace Series profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

I am an original monthly contributor to The In-Depth Genealogist

A digital magazine for persons interested in family history and genealogy study and related topics
A digital magazine for persons interested in family history and genealogy study and related topics | Source

1. How I got into the writing of a column; do you publish a regular column?

Thanks to Hubber, ubanichijioke, for a comment in Tip A asking for more information about getting into column writing.

The first requisite, usually, is as Bill Holland, billybuc, likes to say: Write quality content. And, second, right often.

This is my experience, yours may vary. I'd love to hear of your experience in the comments.

I used to write regularly on "business acumen" - a subject with almost unlimited potential for small business owner readers. Columns in magazines or newspapers typically run from 750 to 1250 words, in my experience. So, once I had accumulated five or six quality pieces on different specific topics, but all within the "business acumen" general topic, I began to watch for column opportunities in the writer's guidelines of magazines and newspapers for which I was submitting queries for feature articles, or department articles. They will typically want to see two to four samples, to see that you can be more than a "one-trip pony," so to speak. Within a couple of months, I landed the first assignment, and a month or two later, another. Generally, these were monthly publications. Columns don't pay as much, individually, as feature articles, but knowing you'll get one published each month, is very nice, as a free lance writer. What is your experience?

Besides my fiction writing, I still regularly publish in the genealogy and heritage tourism areas. Since I'm retired now, whether I do get paid or not is not a big issue (see the next Tip discussion). But, these publications do keep my name in front of potential readers, and my Homeplace writings are always mentioned. I do enjoy selling the books that I have published, either in print or ebook.

I currently write a monthly column in the digi-mag "Going In-Depth" as the Heritage Tourist as well as a monthly post in the accompanying promotional blog. The column is 1250 words, the post is around 800 words. In the major column, each month, I discuss one of the 49 National Heritage Areas around the USA, which each feature cultural, historical, and natural sites. I encourage the readers to visit these sites as they travel the country on their family history and genealogy research. In the monthly blog post, I talk about similar sites in the states that do not currently have a National Heritage Area. 49 specific monthly articles spreads out over more than four years, in case you didn't happen to think about it. That gets my name before a chuck of potential readers each month for over four years. Hard to beat.

Writing regular columns is great fun but it is also a challenge. I'm not currently equipped to deal with anything more frequent than monthly. What do you think about this? Have you made this commitment? How is it similar to, or different from, writing a blog? I look forward to your comments.

The original novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fiction stories

Do you write for money, or not?

A variety of forms of money...
A variety of forms of money... | Source

2. Difference in approach when writing for making money or not

An early commenter on Tip B, brave warrior, added some strong content suggestions - thank you very much - and the slant of the comment also reminded me to write the following.

I briefly touched on the issue of writing for money, or not, earlier, but planned to come back to it, so here are some introductory suggestions to chew on. Currently, as a retired person, I don't specifically seek out "writing for money" opportunities, but, I still like to get paid, at least a little bit, sometimes, for some of what I write. We'll use this background for the following comments. Those who only write for the big money may skip on to the next topic - if you are even reading this…

Especially as you are attempting to build a writing career (and/or platform, as we look at later) it is to your advantage to do some publishing for which you do not get paid simply for the exposure. I hope this is already very obvious to all serious writers. The key point, however, do me, and perhaps to you, is WHERE is this "free writing" being published. Not just anywhere, I hope. You have taken your time to write for a specific publishing venue. It should be with a purpose. If not, before long, all the fun goes out of the writing experience. One opinion.

For most (all?) of us, writing without getting paid in money does not mean you are not being "compensated." I feel I get excellent return for my writing in "Going In-Depth," mentioned earlier, because I write "family saga" fiction, based largely on my family history and genealogy research. These are many of the potential readers of my historical fiction that are avid readers of the Going In-Depth digi-mag - and the numbers continue to climb, as readership of the mag continues to expand.

Your writing environment will be distinctively yours, of course. Where is your potential readership already reading. Can you get published there, with a link to your website, or a tagline that will show them the way? What have your experiences been?

The novella in "The Homeplace Saga" series of stories

What does your writing platform look like?

Standing of the platform... waiting for the train to come in, in the winter...
Standing of the platform... waiting for the train to come in, in the winter... | Source

3. Here are my writing platforms; what others have worked for you, that I might try?

I was about to write a Tip on Writing Platforms, the other day, when Bill Holland, my friend and writing mentor, wrote one that was about half what I wanted to say - and much more. I'll provide that link, below, so be sure to read it, if you haven't already. Instead, I'll share a couple of my thoughts, and see how they compare to what you are doing. I do not yet have a newsletter. I was reminded of that reading Bill's hub. I've begun planning for one, several times. It just hasn't seemed right for me. Is it time? Time will tell, I suppose.

I've already talked about my monthly column and related blog post, above. That is certainly part of my writing platform. My "Homeplace" stories are now available as novels, one novella to date, ebooks, the home "Homeplace Saga" blog, a developmental wiki, a short story collection (forthcoming), two HubPages accounts, Squidoo lenses, and occasional free-standing articles. Have I missed anything? Is this spread too thin, or is this a good approach for my content?

I also write news stories that are published on Examiner.com every month, under three topic areas. Do you ever read Examiner.com? What are your opinions about it? Mine are mixed, quite frankly.

I started blogging in 2005. I still actively post to five different blogs, including daily posts from my mother's diary, from 75 years ago, a book blog, my genealogy blog and my retirement blog. And, of course, I now write stories under two different HubPages accounts… different stories, but all related in some way to my "Homeplace" theme.

Where else do you write, if any? Do you recommend any to me? Did I answer your questions? Thanks for your comments.

Now, write! ;-)

The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fiction stories

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    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Kenneth, I wrote a few articles for examiner.com a year or so ago. I was the Orlando Green Living Examiner. I stopped posting there, because the residual income is much less than HubPages, plus I find the site annoying. Videos constantly interrupt you as you're trying to read.

      I earn my living as a writer, so the potential income is quite important to me. Once I no longer have a mortgage payment to make each month, I can relax and concentrate on writing fiction. For now, I need to write for hire. Fortunately, I haven't had to write anything for free. Well, I take that back. I never did get a paycheck from examiner, but I stopped writing for them long before I hit the threshold.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Helpful article--I do think we have to write and publish---as poet, I don't expect to earn much anywhere, but I do earn pennies here and on a blog. I also belong to a closed online poetry group and that is where I vet my pieces that I send out for publication--a process that I have just started---I am hoping to ease into writing over the next 10 years or so as I get closer to retirement--

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You really have to stop mentioning me. :) I'll grow a big head and people will think we're in cahoots. LOL

      Seriously, thank you, and your tips are right on. The voice of experience is always a voice I'll listen to, and yours qualifies.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Bravewarrior, I appreciate the Examiner.com comments. They pretty well match with my own observations, especially about the site, itself!! Thanks for stopping by, and leaving the first comment. Much appreciated. ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Audrey, I appreciate the candid comments of a poet. Best wishes as the time goes by and your writing moves with it. ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Bill, thank you. You can handle it. I only mention you when I feel it is appropriate. I always like to give credit, where credit is due. We so often forget to do that... but, we try.

      Experience is a double edge sword, as you well know. Trying to help make it work for the positive! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      I've done some magazine article writing, and I would really like to do more. Thanks for your very helpful tips.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Interesting article. I write for pleasure, no money. For a very short time i wrote @ Bubblews for money but didn't enjoy it. I say different strokes for different folks...

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for the visit, MsDora. They are very satisfying to see in print, for sure! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Me too, always exploring... by favorite expression: different strokes for different folks! ;-)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. It's interesting and useful to read about your approach to writing.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, AliciaC, I appreciate your visit and your comment.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      This article is sure to help a lot of people. Thanks for sharing!

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, vkwok, your support is greatly appreciated! ;-)

    • Richard-Bivins profile image

      Richard Bivins 2 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Post articles directly on Google+ and Linkedin and if you are networking there as a freelancer these articles go along way as calling cards where you will receive job offers. Sure these are freebies but I consider them as specs or "miners" as they mine through all of your connections and land on the screen of that one person in charge of finding new content for their company.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Great idea. Thanks for sharing it here. You are very generous, and great fun to read, Rich!! ;-)

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 2 years ago

      Thank you for some very useful information in this hub.

      I will return and take a closer look at your other hubs.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Hope they work for you. You are always welcome to visit; I love to get comments! ;-)

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