Before I launched my freelance copywriting business, I spent three full months planning my escape from corporate America. (Four months if you count the month I spent over-thinking whether I should quit my day job . . . or not.) I read Peter Bowerman’s book, The Well-Fed Writer, cover-to-cover. Twice. I built a website and created an online portfolio. I converted my rarely-used formal living room into an office. And I planned my business implementation strategy.
These early efforts paid off. Within 90 days of starting my business, I had replaced my full time income…
At 40, after several years as a stay-at-home mom, I returned to college to complete my associate’s degree to make myself more marketable when I returned to the workforce. A medical secretary by default, most of my courses were business related. However, one of my electives, Newspaper Research and Reporting, put me on a new and unexpected career path…
Katy Terrega’s book, It’s A Dirty Job…Writing Porn For Fun And Profit! Includes Paying Markets!, reminded me of my own secret experiences as a writer of confession stories — stories for which I got paid. Did I sell my very first confession story? No. In fact, the first couple stories were flatly rejected without a word. Then, for some unknown reason, I thought, maybe it’s because I’m using my actual name: “Russ Heitz.” Maybe they don’t accept confession stories that are written by men. After all, ninety-nine percent of all confession stories have a first person female narrator. And how could a man possibly know how a woman feels about anything?
When I started using the genderless “R. L. Heitz” on the first page of every manuscript, the Macfadden checks started rolling in.
The current recession reminds me of why I pursued a freelance writing career and have never regretted my decision.
It’s hard to single out a low point in my writing attempts, but I have one that illustrates what we have all heard – keep trying and read your target markets.
During the Summer of 2004, I began to devote more time to my writing. Each day, I worked on articles and essays about the places I’ve traveled to as well as other personal experiences. I also made a daily commitment to study markets, and read writing skill-themed articles so as to improve my authoring abilities.
Although I have been freelancing for a while and tackled a few high paying markets, I still find myself looking at the medium paying markets to chase after.
Recently, as I scanned through my market lists, a gig caught my eye. It was a travel writing gig, but then when I saw the pay it said $300.00. It suddenly threw me!
Back when I published work only occasionally, for little pay, in places no one had ever heard of, a friend ‘shared” a story assignment she was too busy to handle herself. In doing so, she introduced me to the wide publication possibilities that food-writing can open for writers.
Just over a year ago, I walked away from a well-paying marketing job to launch a freelance writing career, working primarily in the business to business sector. Within two months, my freelance income was paying the bills. In this first year of writing self-employment, I learned many things that improved my business savvy and monthly income. Here are 10 tips I wish someone had given me before I launched my freelance writing business.
How do you use WritersWeekly.com’s paying markets section? Does the magazine’s title and your knowledge (or lack of) of a particular niche determine whether or not you read the guidelines? If you’ve never lived on a ranch and don’t know any cowboys, do you bypass the guidelines for RANGE magazine? Do you dissect and ruminate over every word in Purposeful Women? Sure you do; you’re human.
We all like to write about our areas of expertise, and some of us refuse to tackle anything beyond. What’s the payoff for never leaving our comfort zone? Less challenge, fewer writing assignments, and smaller income. I know what I’m talking about because I’ve been there, done that.