Making a Living as a Freelance Writer

As a gift to myself for reaching $30 in my AdSense account (after only 102 blog posts and more than 12k hits, heh) I purchased a copy of Writer’s Market 2008 at the local bookstore.

Filled with over 3,500 listings for various publishing opportunities, this book is a goldmine for freelancers.

I’m just getting started on my freelance career. I’m not a typical freelancer because I work one 30-hour-per-week job that pays the rent and the bills. But I’m hoping to expand my writing experience (and monthly earnings) by being published in numerous publications.

Sending out queries to publications is tough, especially because you likely will be rejected, or even worse, never hear back. I got lucky in that early on in my career I had the opportunity to work as an editorial assistant for a magazine and obtain numerous glossy clips. But it turns out, the clips that impress the few publications I’m trying to write for aren’t the ones I wrote for the mag. Instead, they like the style stories I wrote for a few local newspapers.

If you want to get started in writing and get paid for it, I highly recommend writing for a local newspaper. You might not get paid, but you’ll get a few clips. Don’t sign up for a full-time internship unless you’re in school or right out of college. You can try to freelance for a fee, you might make $50 an article. That’s a start.

You’ve probably already checked out, a website that lists daily freelance gigs. There’s occasionally something good there. But generally, you’re going to want to send queries to the editors of different magazines. Come up with a few ideas (you might think they’re stupid and they might love them!) and send off a cover letter with your pitch, and attach a few writing samples. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, all this will cost you is your time… not even $.37 for a postage stamp.

Whatever you do, if you’re just getting started, don’t think of writing opportunities as being below you. Even though I make $50 an hour for some of my freelance gigs, on average I make about $25 an hour. Sometimes I’ll do work for free because I know how valuable that work will be as a portfolio piece in the long run.

I’ll write more tips on becoming a freelance writer as I go through my own trial and error process. Thus far, I’ve been assigned one 600-700 world Q&A for a magazine. The pay is $100. I’ll probably spend 4-5 hours on it, including the interview, so that’s a good $20-$25 an hour. Hopefully the interview will go over as planned, and I’ll have a good article on my hands.

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