A meeting with my manager let me know my job performance was not up to snuff. My dismissal was inevitable, and after the obligatory flurry of tissue and kind words, I was sent on my way.
My manager assured me that I’d be just fine.
“After all, you’ve got all these stories in the newspaper. That must bring in some money.”
At that time, I was writing a weekly feature article for a small, free-distribution paper. They were paying me at the top of their pay scale: a staggering eight cents a word.
To make up for the loss of my steady paycheck at that rate, doubling or even tripling my weekly output of articles wouldn’t do. I’d have to septuple it!
That wasn’t very likely. Show me someone who can churn out seven top quality feature articles in a week – and sell them all – and I’ll show you someone who isn’t me. Simply working harder wasn’t going to solve my problem. I had to work harder and smarter.
I started by chasing larger local markets. My clips from the smaller paper opened the door, and I landed regular gigs writing for the local daily paper. I also expanded my definition of local. Instead of concentrating only on hometown papers, I looked for assignments from state and regional publications. These haven’t been as regular, but when every penny counts, they certainly help.
With one eye on our bank balance, I started querying larger, higher-paying magazines and trade journals. It’s a tougher market, to be sure, but the few sales and correspondingly larger checks have been well worth it.
Ghostwriting and fiction sales have helped round out the corners, and now, two years after my last day of full-time employment, I make my living as a writer. There’s a steady stream of assignments on my to-do list, a novel in the works, and the added benefit of being at home for my children at the end of the school day.
I still write for that small weekly on occasion. You never know when .08/word might come in handy.
Cynthia Potts is a freelance writer living in Upstate New York. You can read her work on-line at http://www.Pressrepublican.com (Click on Building and Remodeling) or by visiting her blog at http://eclecticeveryday.blogspot.com. Contact Cynthia at: ctpotts (at) juno.com