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October 15, 2001
Making Money In Freelance Writing - From The Beginning
by Tad Hulse

The majority of writers begin writing simply for the sheer love of creating something from nothing with no more than the use of the mind, a pen and some paper (or in today's world, replace that latter two with a laptop). Whether the focus is on novels, scripts, essays or articles, it's a labour of love most that would do for free. But let's be real, those who want to make a career out of writing cannot live on love alone. We need that almighty dollar to make things possible.

The only reason we aim to make money from our writing is so that we may support ourselves enough to engage in writing on a professional, full-time level. It's one of life's double-edged swords: we do it for the love of the process, but in order to do it all the time and still keep our head above water, we need to seek out monetary rewards. Hence, you must get paid for what you write if you're serious about becoming a writer. There is nothing quite as gratifying as beginning with a blank computer screen and ending with a story woven together with your own words; except of course, that nice little paycheque that follows, no matter how light or heavy it is.

We all bring something to the table as a writer, unique in our style, approach and use of words, which makes the freelance market today an even more prosperous forum for you than just a few years ago. Contrary to what people tend to believe, there is plenty of room and an immeasurable amount of opportunities amid the Internet for fresh, new creative talent. You just need to know when, where and how to look to sell your work. Most beginning freelance writers do not realise the amount of paying markets at their fingertips. You may not start out earning much, but a little here and there is better than nothing at all. There are a lot of non-paying markets that offer great opportunities in getting
published, but realise, the majority who do not offer any compensation in the beginning never tend to later on either. It's more likely those markets will go under before any actually start paying their writers.

Besides the usual freelance job sites you may haunt for weeks-on-end in search of that break at the bigtime, take a bit of that 'browsing time' to research some lesser known hotspots. For example, places like Yahoo or MSN are frequently disregarded by the mainframe of freelance sites galore because it's not their primary focus (often, if you look under "employment opportunities," you will find jobs posted for editors or freelancers). On a more casual level, if a magazine arrives in your mailbox and you think it's the perfect market for your style of writing, do not dismiss it if you see no mention of freelancers being used in the publication. Write the managing editor a polite query asking for the writer's guidelines and inquire if they do, indeed, accept submissions from freelance writers. They could perhaps be looking for a new staff writer or movie reviewer, and who knows - it could be you. But you'll never know if you don't inquire!

Can you ever say enough about the value of keeping the lines of communication and information open with other professionals in your field? It's a good tip that many neglect (especially those who are fellow freelancers and probably have excellent leads and connections beyond your reach). As they say in Hollywood, "It's not what you know, it's who you know and who they know." That cliché couldn't be more on the money. The very least they can do is refer you to an editor, website or e-zine that they might've worked with in the past or heard through the grapevine who is on the watch for prospective talent. Usually, the grapevine is buzzing with info (with the magic of email). A word to the wise though: those who keep a keen ear are the ones making the money (which means they check their email more than once a week).

In the end, your freelancing talents must be advertised and promoted like any other product or service. The key is to get your name out there, as well as your work, through networking and perseverance. Creativity is what brings you to the table in the beginning, but if you want to remain there, a bit of effort and a lot of ingenuity are what it takes to keep the seat.

Tad Hulse is an American freelance writer who can be currently found residing in Oslo, Norway when he's not out exploring the rest of Greater Europe. He's contributed works to numerous websites and publications, namely about travel and culture.

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