We have a freelancer, Devon,
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I certainly wouldn't call myself a freelance writer (I have a day job), but I have been dabbling with the career for about four years. Linda brings up many good points in her post and I want to also state that freelancing, in general, is no quick way to make a buck. Although you may get a nice lump sum at the end of the process if you get an article accepted and published, it often divides up to a pretty average hourly wage. If you're interested in writing freelance articles for magazines, it take an incredible amount of research just to get a decent query off to an editor, not to mention an actual article. You'll need persistence, dedication, and an ability to handle frequent rejection. Now more than ever, with the lackluster economy, freelancers are working hard to maintain a large enough client base to pay their bills.
Dreamers tend to be romantics, and I'm no exception. Initially you'll envision national publications falling over themselves to publish your copy. In truth, it takes a long time to set up a reputation with editors and you may need to accumulate more clips before they'll even give your queries the time of day. My advice is to write where you can. It may not be glamorous to write for local publications, but they almost always need more writers (especially if you're willing to do it for the experience and clip -- not for the huge paycheck of maybe $20) and it's a great way to keep your writing muscle in shape.
You didn't mention what type of freelancing you're interested in. If you're not looking into articles, I don't have a lot of insight for you. On Devon's recommendation, I've been reading The Well-Fed Writer
Sort of, roxygirl.
I used to be loyal to my day job and wrote in my spare time. Spare time sometimes included when normal people ate and slept.
Looking for motivation that won't interfere with future earnings, my current niche is limiting my output. I know that sounds stupid and it probably is. If I looked outside the box (or the pan or pot), there could be a lot of food writing I could do. There could be even more writing on other subjects I could do. I really should.
It's not easy making a living as a freelancer. It's not impossible. It does take a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort. Making a living isn't easy no matter how you do it.
I make my living at it, and I've posted extensively about it on this board. If you search the archives, you'll find plenty of information.
It's not a life for everyone. You have to be willing to work your butt off to establish yourself. No excuses. No "I don't have time to write". No luxuries like "writer's block." Never miss a deadline, or you don't get hired again by that client.
And don't work for those mill content sites that pay $1/article or pay per page view. You label yourself as "cheap labor" and you'll never get out.
Do your research on each individual company, hone your skills, not just creatively but with grammar, spelling, etc. Work your butt off and take no prisoners.
I'm not going to repeat all the information I've posted at least a dozen times on this site-- but you can find it and read it through and get an idea of the daily requirements.
If it's the kind of life the suits you, it's the right choice. If you need structure and stability, it's not.
I love it, and wouldn't want to do anything else.
I freelanced for six years (Corporate writing, Technical writing, Trade articles). The good points: Once I established myself, the work
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better." ~ Samue
It's amazing how many people act like "freelance" means "only when you want to", and "easy money" when it requires much more personal motivation and dedication than working in someone else's office.
I hate being on anyone else's schedule, so freelancing is definitely the right choice for me. I have no problem with client deadlines -- I do have a problem with the client trying to micromanage when and where i meet that deadline, and those are the ones I avoid. If they want me "available" for IM or by phone -- no, thanks. I put it in my contract that the phone is OFF when I work, and I check messages and return calls twice a day. They want contact during the day -- email me.
Didn't the term freelance come from "free lance," a lance for hire, or in other words a mercenary?
As you would imagine, the guy with the lance - or the gun - could make the rules. He could choose when and where he worked as well as his compensation. Once freelancers became more creative than destructive, those with artistic power seemed to lose ground to those with the coin. The only way to regain our power may be to work within our own set of rules.
When and how we handle communication may seem like a small power but it may make all the difference in how our output is affected. How would the king (or duke, dictator, or editor) feel if his battle (a/k/a article) were put on hold because another editor (king/duke/dictator) insisted on holding half-hour conference calls every day while you had his article on the table?
Other rules we may find imperative may involve rate and method
Yes, Judy, that is the origin of "freelance", and I love it!
Just got another "opportunity" from an application that I was shortlisted and need to provide an unpaid sample. No. I'm happy to provide previously published clips or negotiate a special rate for the sample, but no unpaid project-specific samples. Too often, they then say that they hired someone else, but you see your sample used without pay.
If you can't tell from my clips whether I'm right for the job, you either don't know what you want or you're a scammer.
PS -- THe "Mobile Me" program with my new Macbook -- lets me work from literally anywhere and sync with my hard drive, even if I don't have the laptop with me.
Truly allows me to be a Free Lance!