My freelance writing career started more out of desperation than that special “aha” moment when one recognizes their chosen career. I had always loved writing, but never thought I would be good enough to make a career out of it. My son was approaching the age to start school and I had a strong conviction to homeschool him. As a divorced, single mom, that left me with limited career choice options. I had received top grades in college for my writing so, when I researched work-from-home jobs on the internet, and found some listings for proofreading, I figured: How hard could it be?
To start from scratch at working online was not that simple, however. I had to wade through hundreds of scam postings, and sent applications that I never heard back from, probably due to my lack of experience in remote work. Then one day, I stumbled upon a seemingly simple enough keyword proofreading job, and applied for it. Amazingly, I was hired! So, started my initiation into working from home! Granted, it was not the most substantial job, but it gave me my first tentative experience into the online working world.
When the temporary assignment ended, I was able to use that practical experience to land my next online assignment. This one started out proofreading copy for hotels. The client was desperate for workers due to a backlog of work. Within a few weeks, he had dismissed all his other proofreaders (that kept letting errors slip through), and had hired me as the main proofreader.
There were promises of eventual full-time work and, when I made the tentative suggestion that I would love to try my hand at writing copy, he gave me a chance. Eventually, this led to not only writing web content for hotels, but writing entire web pages for other companies he had contracted with. Then, he started a blogging program, and gave me several weekly blog spots to fill.
The skills I learned through this position were invaluable to me and opened up my realm of expertise to an entirely new level. Sadly, the promised full-time work never panned out and I was forced to move on when the work dwindled, but I will always be grateful for the learning opportunity.
My experience with writing blog posts landed me a job with Apartments.com for a temporary blog writing assignment. I wrote two blogs a week for over six months for a popular city near me, with my byline added. Yet more experience to add to my now growing resume of freelance, remote work.
Though copywriting is rewarding and comparatively easy, it can become monotonous at times. I learned through the process that my true passion is creative writing. I really wanted to write fiction and I wanted to succeed at it! But, if applying for a job is terrifying, sending out query letters can reach an entirely new level of nerve-wracking horror! There is just something about that initial offering up of a part of your soul to expose for potentially traumatizing criticism, to waiting for that first dreaded rejection letter. I had tried submitting children’s books years before with only negative results. With those feelings of dread, I decided to start small by entering a few short story contests.
Amazingly, I was lucky enough to win a few honorable mentions. Then, I placed second, received an actual prize, and had my story published online! That was a huge confidence booster for someone who was naturally shy and fearful of the dreaded query letters! That inspired my decision to send in a few stories to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. I already had several of their books, and had subscribed to their daily email stories for years. My familiarity with their series had given me a good idea about what types of stories they were looking for.
A few months after that, I received my first preliminary acceptance letter! I was excited, but afraid to get my hopes up. It still had to reach the final stages of elimination. A couple of weeks later, I got the official acceptance letter: I was in! In a flurry of frantic excitement, I went through the stages of signing release letters, receiving emails from their publicity agent, arranging newspaper coverage, and even arranging actual book signings.
Imagine! An actual book signing! I was getting to experience the real deal, and I could finally envision myself as a famous published author doing world book tours! It was a wonderful experience, and I learned so much about the entire writing/publishing process. I also learned the extreme importance of always researching your market and meticulously following all guidelines, a must for any would-be writer!
A few months later, I had another story from that first batch of submissions accepted, and I now have two stories under pseudonyms out with Chicken Soup for the Soul. I am currently in the process of submitting several finished children’s stories to agents and I have noticed a higher level of interest since I now have actual published credits behind me. I am looking forward to the next big letter of acceptance! I’m positive it will come some day!
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Hannah Vaughan has worked as a freelance writer/editor for over six years. Her copy has been published online by businesses like Best Western, urgent care centers, and Apartments.com. She has had two stories published in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series and has placed in the Writers Weekly short story contest that was published online, along with several honorable mentions. She home-schools her son and plans to pursue fiction writing for children and young adults. You can find her at stripesediting.com and on Twitter @MayHutchings.
The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication
Practical resource outlining the self-syndication process, step-by-step. Packed with detailed information and useful tips for writers looking to gain readership, name recognition, publication and self-syndication for their column or articles.http://writersweekly.com/books/4693.html