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December 19, 2001
So You Want To Be A Freelance Writer
by Tad Hulse

Freelance writers are present in practically everything that deals with today's technology, from books to television to the Internet. If you are planning to break into the world of writing, especially freelance, it's best to be certain on what kind of writing you want to explore. There are many fields to choose from, however, with a little research you will be able to find one that matches your skill, perspective and interest perfectly. And in doing so, you can tackle more than one type of writing or you can just stick to the one subject you know best. Whatever your choice is, paths amid the freelance marketplace are plentiful and always on the lookout for new talent. Here's a summary of the most common fields in freelance writing:

Writers, who focus primarily on articles, usually do short non-fiction pieces on specific themes, topics or news items. Travel writers, entertainment writers, sports writers; these are all experts on their topic
and usually write for many types of print magazines. Article writers can be either freelancers or staff
writers; but what they have in common is the ability to write pieces in a compact and succinct language. The market for well-written articles is enormous, both on and off the Internet. Experienced and highly regarded writers with a deeply specialized knowledge (medicine, technology, and consumerism) can make a very decent living in more mercantile publications. As for columnists, they typically meander amid the world of criticism, remarking mostly on popular trends, fashions and styles rather than hard-line news. These days, you can find columns on pretty much about everything in newspapers and magazines. Those who are syndicated, in which their columns appear in hundreds
of newspapers daily, usually are top of the line and make the most money. Some view writing a new article every week for the same column can be a bit of a challenge, though some feel it's one of the easier slots of writing to slip into. In more established publications, often a staff journalist with a
reputable name provides the weekly write-ups.

Freelance writers are, by definition, those like you and I who do not make their living off of one
specific, full-time writing job. In turn, being a freelance writer has a lot to offer in terms of freedom; you can work when you want, as much as you like, from anywhere in the world. It's a compromise
many relish. Writers who are just starting out will find freelancing work much easier to ascertain than
staff writing positions, but realize, veterans who've been working the field for decades can still only make a decent living. It is better to pair this field up with another and see it as extra income instead of
your livelihood.

Online writers spend the majority of their time writing for websites and e-zines. Most are freelancers
and have no previous literary background. This field, coupled with freelancing, is a great way to start out for most beginning writers. For many, online writing is an evening occupation after a day spent at the office. You can find a lot to write about here, from poetry and short stories to articles on just about
anything. The pay is minute and being published online is less prestigious than the print world, but the
market is great and virtually bottomless. For amateur writers the online world is a Godsend, as it provides them with an outlet for their work and allows them to climb upward as they progress in their skill.

Reviewers are expected to be quite knowledgeable the subject they write about. Whether it's books, music, movies, restaurants or resorts; the reviewer must be simultaneously informative and entertaining without being redundant from each week. The field has nearly as many writers as things to review have enthusiasts, so getting a steady job can be somewhat difficult for freelancers. For freelance reviewing, the pay is never more than mediocre, being sometimes the product itself (a free movie, book, CD). Unfortunately, the majority of websites out there today rely on the enthusiast
offering free reviews. In the more notable newspapers and magazines, staff writers usually get first dibs on the reviews, but if your persistent; freelancers do get in an occasional job. Staff writers are what most writers call a cushy job, being full time and permanent. In other words, a staff job means that
you're a hired hand with inherent 'job security,' but it also means that you'll be told what to write, what
not to write, and that deadlines become vital in keeping your seat amid the newspaper, magazine,
marketing bureau or publishing house. Not to mention that everything you write immediately becomes
ownership of the company. However, you do get to work with high-caliber professionals, which does wonders for daily motivation. Like almost every other writing field out there, staff writing offers better income potential than working as a freelance writer.

Tad Hulse is an American freelance writer who has spent the last two years traveling the world.
Currently he is based in Oslo, the capital of Norway.
Email: hulsetad@yahoo.com

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