Tag Archives: Freelance Writing

Writing Resolutions

We all make them but writers tend to make New Year’s resolutions that actually sound like they can come true!

Part of the reason our resolutions sound plausible is our facility with words.  Part of it is that anyone who writes for a living often thinks about the future and how they will manage as the economy shrinks and traditional publications fall to online magazines and, you guessed it, blogs.

So, what resolutions am I making?  The first one is to share as much of what I have learned in this freelance writing business with anyone who is trying to get started in it.  Why would I do that?  Why would I give away what it has taken me more than 18 years to learn?

Because I wish that someone had shared their knowledge, their insights with me.  It would have made the first 17 years just a little bit easier.  So, without further ado, here are some of my thoughts about and tips on freelance writing.

Freelance writing is tough at the very beginning because everyone wants to see samples of your writing and prefers writers that are published…which makes it harder to get published.  That said, there are a couple of places you can look for freelance jobs. 

 

Of course, one of the first places I check is www.craigslist.org .  I look in both Philadelphia and Delaware.  Click on the Writing/Editing link almost at the bottom of your screen – just right of center.  I have found a couple of freelance jobs through this listing.  One caveat – for every writing job I got through Craigs List, I probably submitted 100 queries.

 

I also subscribe to one free newsletter which has job listings but, more importantly, has tips, ideas and stories about writing and how to get started and keep going.  It is called Writer’s Weekly by Angela Hoy.  You can subscribe by going to http://www.writersweekly.com.

  

You also may want to look into Writer’s Market.  It is published every year and half of it covers book publishers, editors and agents and the other half covers magazines.  You can look at it at Barnes & Noble or maybe your local library would have a copy.  The good thing about Writer’s Market is that it includes all the information about the magazine including the editor’s name and contact information, the percent of the magazine which is written by freelancers and story ideas the magazine is seeking.

 

Oddly enough, I got the writing job with Equine Journal by answering an ad in their magazine.  So another tip would be to read through magazines and see who is looking for freelancers.  The down side is that some magazines only pay a very small amount — $60 per 600 word article – just 10 cents a word.  But I love horses and love writing so it works for me.  I also write for Advance Magazine for Nursing and The Art Times Journal. 

 

And I write for businesses but that is harder to get into and stay into.  To get jobs with businesses, you really, really have to network.  More on that later.

 

Those are a few of the ways I just stay tapped in.    I hope they help you meet some of your New Year’s resolutions

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Filed under Copywriting, Freelance Writing, Writing Articles, Writing Resources

What Do Healthcare and Horses have in common?

No, that’s not a trick question.  It is the question I get when I tell people I write for Advance Magazine for Nurses, The Art Times Journal, MD News and The Equine Journal.

The answer is really simple.  A good writer can write about anything!

Good writing is not about being an expert in any one subject, although that can make it easier but it also limits your freelance opportunities to just that one area of expertise.   Good writing is all about knowing how to write.  The basic elements of hammering out an article, a brochure, a corporate report and even a short story or a novel are about the same:

  1. Select a topic.  Getting an assignment from an editor makes this easy.  The more you write on a topic, the more ideas you will get on your own.
  2. Get a handle on your audience.  You won’t write the same way for teenagers that you would for adults or the same way for engineers as you would for bankers.  Your target audience will help you to find the right voice and vocabulary to use.
  3. Do your research.  No matter how often I write about horses or web site planning or healthcare, I ALWAYS do research before I ever contact anyone for interviews.  TIP:  if you are writing an article, make sure you save documents and sources so you can cite them.
  4. Determine which sources, which people you want to interview.  Your research may help with sources; your editor may as well.  And as you build experience in a subject area, some of your professional acquaintances my help, too.
  5. Conduct interviews.  My editors don’t care what I think or know.  They are looking for insights and information from industry experts.  That’s where interviews come in.  Interviews will form the meat of your article.  TIP:  I always record my interviews to make sure I accurately represent what the subject matter experts have told me.  A small digital recorder that connects to your cell phone makes this incredibly easy.  I got a TinyTEK from www.pimall.com and have been using it for 4 years.
  6. Type up your notes.  Why you ask?  There are two reasons — it makes it much easier to find an answer while you are writing if you can word search or scan a type written documents rather than notes on a legal pad.  Secondly, typing the notes actually begins the process of writing.  My brain, my subconscious, starts to put together connections and write the story while I am actually typing the notes.
  7. Read your notes then walk away!  Vacuum.  Mow the lawn.  Do something mechanical and repetitive and wait for your brain to begin the magic of writing.
  8. Clear your desk off.  Get a cup of coffee or tea.  Sit down and begin to write.  Write quickly, almost in outline form, inserting quotes from the notes and creating the beginning, middle and end.  TIP:  if you are having trouble getting started just think to yourself, “What am I trying to say?  What story am I trying to tell?”  Then tell it.
  9. Read your first draft OUT LOUD.  That’s right, read it out loud and you will instantly find places where the language doesn’t flow or the logic doesn’t work.  Mark up the draft, revise it and read it out loud again.
  10. Follow this process and edit until you are comfortable that it is in pretty good shape then read it again and this time ask yourself these questions.  Does it tell the story logically?  Completely?  Compellingly?  Does it make you want to know more?  Take action?
  11. Check your references and citations.  Make sure they are correct and that the format you use works for the publication you are writing for.
  12. Ask a “neutral 3rd party” to read the article.  You will be surprised what someone who hasn’t lived with the story, who doesn’t really love it or isn’t invested in it, can find.  TIP:  take the observations, changes and questions with good grace.  If this reader misunderstands or gets lost, you can bet the magazine, report, brochure readers are going to misunderstand or get lost, too.
  13. Make the final changes then, guess what?  Read it out loud one more time.  TIP:  if my gut says, “Don’t send the article right now.” I wait, sometimes overnight.  My subconscious is seeing something I am not seeing so I give myself another chance to read it through before hitting the Send button.
  14. Send your article, report, brochure, short story winging on its way to your editor and get started on the next one!

Follow this approach and you can write about horses, cardiology, surrealism, defense contracting and any other topic.

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Filed under Art Journal Articles, Equestrian Articles, Freelance Writing, Medical & Nursing Articles