After being laid off four times in as many years, I knew I could do better in freelance writing than as an executive secretary.
I had been writing piecemeal for a few magazines and newspapers for years; however, once my day job evaporated, I put all my energy into freelancing.
Armed with a sheaf of bylines from my magazine and newspaper work, I queried the local newspapers and business journals. Within two months, I was writing for six publications in the Denver-metro area. Magazine work also picked up as I sent out a steady stream of queries. A few, such as Alaska Business Monthly, Auto Restorer, and Home Cooking, became familiar with my work and have continued to be steady sources of income each year.
Then life moved my cheese. I relocated to upstate New York, where “tepid” describes the economy and newspapers are mostly resistant to freelance work or else pay one-third of what I had received.
As with Spencer Johnson’s fabled mice, I found different cheese. To compensate for the decrease in newspaper work, I increased my magazine work by sending these publications more queries. I also began editing and co-writing screenplays through a few contacts I have made through the minimal newspaper writing I do. After extensive research as to its salability, I have started writing a non-fiction book.
I have realized the importance of networking and spinning off stories. For example, when writing about a local man for the newspaper, I explore all the magazine angles I could take with his story. I incorporate aspects of his personality into a screenplay. I follow through on leads he gives me. I view each contact as a resource and opportunity for paid writing. It doesn’t matter where I live. I will make my living as a freelance writer.
Deborah J. Myers has been a full-time freelance writer since 2000. Her work includes how-to articles, features, news, recipes, screenplay editing/co-writing, poetry, short fiction, and corporate policy manuals. She lives in Wolcott, N.Y. Visit her Web site at: http://hometown.aol.com/skilledquill/freelance.html