There’s no doubt — it’s getting harder and harder to make a living as a writer. The days of the full-time journalist who jets to faraway lands to secure a story are nearing an end, I fear. At least for most of us.
For aspiring writers willing to work hard and open their hearts and minds to it, there are many opportunities on the freelance landscape. You just have to know where to look for them.
Here are a few recommendations to get you started:
- There are going to be a lot of websites and books out there that will promise you instant riches. The ones I have found to be most reliable are those industry standards such as Writer’s Digest and Media Bistro. These sites have the true pulse of the writing market and will be able to guide you to ethically sound writing opportunities. Possibly lesser known, but smart publications like FreelanceWriting.com and FundsforWriters.com also provide writers with responsible career guidance.
- Once you have a great story to sell, pitch and pitch often. Research your market and know your audience for a targeted, streamlined approach that weary editors will appreciate. Keep in mind — a pitch that offers cool ideas for happy kid campers will likely not be appreciated in a magazine that focuses on high-end home decor.
- Start small and then strive for the bigger markets. There are many regional publications that will appreciate a thoughtful story idea that will inspire their readership. The pay will hardly be enough to sustain your mortgage, but good things often start small. Journalismjobs.com boasts a great selection of jobs in big and small venues.
- When you get the big call from an editor who wishes to see some of your work, be sure to submit quick, clean copy. A satisfied editor will translate to more assignments for you. The book will be out on you that you are a skilled and professional writer and more work will follow from even more publications.
- Yes, you have dreams of becoming a novelist. And with the right amount of luck and training, you will get there. But, to cash that monthly check, be open to paying writing gigs in any genre. The public relations field is competitive but typically brimming with writing opportunities. This is also true in some marketing and non-profit organizations, as well. Be open to every and any gig as long as it is an ethical endeavor. Put your pen to work for the money, while you hone your true writing craft. Most all of us do it.
- Join various writing organizations like Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and on LinkedIn.com for networking opportunities that may lead to your next big “get.”
- As you continue on your way, earning money, growing clips and impressing editors with your innovative ideas and masterful words — beware of the scammers. They lurk and lure aspiring writers who dream of a successful career.
Kerri S. Mabee