How to Make Freelancing Pay When You’re Having a Bad Day! By Donna Kordela

Freelance jobs can come in starts and stops. Having a bad day? It’s an experience any freelance writer can relate to. You can turn a bad day into a good day by getting to your computer every day and trying to become the freelance writer you want to become. Here’s a presentation of five days that actually saved my writing life because I kept on trying to write in various medias. I didn’t want the 9 to 5 ball and chain so I linked to new markets to keep me going. It’s free advice!

1. As a writing instructor for a community college, I added to my income by listing my name in a ‘little red book’ that an independent bookstore that also detailed my writing specialties. Somehow, a couple needing a writer found my name in the book and asked if I could translate a memoir of 48 pages into a movie script! Stunned and excited at the possibilities (not to mention they were paying me $500.00 a week) I took on the project. It was fascinating but I had to immerse myself in the history of Italy, its small communities and the era of Mussolini. The finished script, based on the memoir, is listed now with the Writer’s Guild of America, West with my name as author, opening me up to, yes, Hollywood. (Advice: Get yourself listed in the community yellow pages).

2. One day when I was ill with the flu, my cell phone rang. The voice was that of an editor I had doggedly sent queries to as a goal market. He said something similar to ‘because I had really wanted to sell to their publication he was going to award me with an assignment!’ Talk about feeling better fast! (Advice: Sometimes the writing life of yesterday comes in time for a sick day bonus payday tomorrow).

3. One of my first assignments with a local community newspaper came in a sound bite of negativity. I recall the managing editor said something akin to ‘you’ll never get rich writing for a newspaper’ before she asked if I knew how to use a camera. My affirmation awarded me with the job of writing front page news as long as it was accompanied by a photo. Upon going home, my husband Bill said, “You didn’t tell them you don’t know own a camera did you?” I sheepishly nodded ‘no’ and added that I could learn. I took a class in photography and my first ‘blue ribbon’ picture was one staged by paramedics as I took a picture of the “Jaws of Life.” A paycheck came my way as did a community award. (Advice: Photography allows you an extra paycheck and sometimes can be as much as the article payment.)

4. “No!” How many times as a freelance writer have your heard the word ‘no?’ A seasoned freelance writer hears it often. Attitude and a determination to change it to a ‘yes’ won me over when three editors told me ‘no’ on the same simultaneously-submitted article, saying the subject was too “trite” or “everyone feels they’re good at small talk”. The article, “Small Talk”, went on to sell over ten times because I felt the subject was worth a try. In the end, although skeptical, it was accepted by THE LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE and distributed nationwide, increasing my paycheck in royalties. So, reprogram your query and make your “no’s” acceptance letters. (Advice: Use market resources such as on to target your markets for a “yes.”)

5. “So?” So what if you want to sell to various markets and you’re trying to aim for a target market? So you want to write what you want to write? Selling to consumer markets, children’s markets and mainstream magazines is possible if you research and keep up on multiple markets. A love of puppets and knowing creative souls helped me to target children’s markets although I was selling mostly to community newspapers. Is it hard to sell to children’s markets? Yes, that’s what I had been told at many writer’s conferences. My first sale in that market came while I was raising my own two children. “Puppetry: Tools of Teaching” sold to Arts & Activities, a magazine that loved articles about popular school programs. That was followed by “Reading Grandparents,” about grandparents reading to children in a community program, that sold to Grit Magazine. Another article on “Teens and Health” appeared in The Keynoter and my sidebar included tips from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. (Advice: You can writer for specific or multiple markets if you find what you hold dear and write it so others can identify with your subject.)

Donna Kordela is a multi-faceted writer and community college writing instructor. She quit a bad day job years ago with a promise to enjoy the writer’s life. She started with newspapers and then wrote for magazines, including: Rock and Gem, The Herb Quarterly, Woman, New Business Opportunities, Grit, Sailing, The Executive Female, and more. Her husband, Bill, is her inspiration and they’ve been married for over 32 years. They, along with son, Luke, recently attended their daughter Jhen’s wedding to Brian Goldman at Disney World’s Grand Floridian. Her non-fiction book, Rate Your Mate, is available at Her website is:

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