The Journey of a Free-lance Writer
I took a hiatus! While neglecting my writing responsibilities on the site, I have been doing some work, traveling with my wife and plenty of coffee drinking. While I was in Chelsea, NY a few weeks back, I thought about what I wanted to actually write and share on my blog. I honestly want to use this platform as a way to engage and connect with people by providing my insight and café wisdom. Recently I did an editorial piece about myself for a magazine that’s launching in a few months that highlights my leap from working a 9-5 to becoming a freelance writer. And to be completely honest it wasn’t a complete leap. Yes, I do come across writing opportunities that do pay pretty good, but I also have a book publishing company I run with my sister. And I also mentor during the week that helps aide with my bills. So, the piece I wrote made me reflect and think a lot about what it means to become a free-lance writer, and I wanted to share some honest, practical tips advice that I used. I hope this piece can help give some insight and spark conversation when deciding if you want to take this journey.
Always be prepared
The freelance journey is unpredictable and adventurous which is why so many people fall for the allure. Once you become a freelancer, you are literally in the position to take on or as little work you want. But, the demand of work will go through phases just like anything where some months are better than others. The best advice I can give to anyone starting out is to be prepared before the opportunity. One way I try to stay active is to always create the content in advance by staying on top of the trends and news. And sometimes this may mean that you create content to pitch and it goes nowhere. That’s a part of the risk that comes with the game. Researching and staying current in your industry will not only make you a reputable writer but will also create a demand for more opportunities because of your turn-around time. However, always being prepared comes from setting time aside to actually get the writing done. Don’t underestimate the time of just taking a few minutes out of your day to dedicate to writing. Even if it’s only 15 minutes a day. In the early stages, the habit is way more valuable than the result. If you grasp this concept, you’re more than half-way there. Trust me.
Setting your fee
The struggle that every artist or new entrepreneur faces is the business side that comes with the job. If you’re depending on the company or brand that you’re working with to come up with a reasonable compensation rate for your work you may realize that you may be getting short-changed. This is not always the case, but this is why it’s good to have a fee established that you can counter with if you do. Of course, if you’re a new writer, your fee may be modest at the start, but the more experiences you get (even if it’s not paid) counts towards your resume of work. The first question you should ask for any paid piece is how many words for the assignment? The length will determine your time and your time needs to be compensated. Also, find out if there’s a kill fee. A kill fee is a fee that benefits the writer. If you’re offered a writing assignment after you submit your piece and for some reason, the company decides not to publish or move forward with your article, the kill fee will ensure that the writer still gets a percentage of the compensation for their work. This is always a plus to find out before because at-least you know you’re getting something for your time and effort.
Sometimes you got to piece it together
The real reality about free-lance writing is you will rarely find a gig that will provide you with enough compensation for you to commit to writing full-time. At least in the beginning and this is absolutely normal, but some come to realize this and become discouraged, however, there’s hope. With anything as a freelancer, you just have to learn how to diversify your work to attract more work. In order to do this, you first have to find your niche. What kind of writer are you? Do you enjoy writing pieces about business to business solutions, women’s wear or more lifestyle pieces? Once you discover your niche, figure out different ways you can create content that might appeal to different audiences. For example, if you’re a women’s wear blogger, look at the work attire trends for the office and submit an editorial piece to Forbes about how office wear for women are changing. Being in a box isn’t a bad thing; it creates a structure for your writing which allows you to focus on different audiences. If you’re able to reach a different audience, you will be able to create more opportunities and eventually increase your earning potential.
Being a writer is a challenging job, and the downtime and empty cups of coffee can make you feel deprived at times. I hope this piece helped shed some light on what it really means to be a freelance writer. Trust me, it’s not always glamorous, and at first, it may require living check to check, I know it did for me. But as you give it time, hopefully, you will find the balance that you need. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me. And I will share the magazine editorial that I’m featured in once it’s out! But in the meantime, grab some coffee and get to work.