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April 2, 2002
Restoring Faith in Your Freelance Writing Business
By Melissa Brewer

With all of the talk about "consumer confidence" and people around the US returning to "faith" in these troubled times, it's easy to feel, as a writer, insignificant -- and "unneeded." It's even easier easy to feel uninspired on the topics you normally write about. How can a contruction writer write about forklifts in a time like this? How can a content writer continue to write when everyone is saying "The web is dead?"

My favorite creative writing teacher once told me that as a freelance writer, "You sleep with your words during the day, and make love to them when you return home." (Ok, I can't remember the exact phrase -- but she said something like that -- and I'm sure you "get" it!)

Writers have a relationship with the words they craft, and they have a relationship with their finished product. Think of your relationship with writing as a long-term marraige. Complex and wonderful, your career will go through different stages. After years of up's and down's, and the current ecomony, how do you put the spark back in your relationship? (Writers can't divorce their writing -- only their work. It would be a painful, empty life without it!)

If you feel discouraged, uninspired, or out of love with your craft, and are looking to restore the spark in your relationship with writing, here are some tips that can make the difference!

Restoring Faith in Your Skills

The freelance market is "fiercly competitive" right now. That's the talk of the moment that is sending some writers back to full-time jobs. It may be the truth -- but competition doesn't mean that you can't get work. It means that you must learn to market your work effectively and assess your skills and expertise.

So what is your passion? Find a niche that you can fill. Everyone has an issue that they are passionate about or a field they have worked extensively in. Web Monkey has a timeless article on finding --and defining -- your niche as a web freelancer.

Read around. Find the publications on the topic you've chosen. Query them even if they have no openings -- inject your passion into your query letter and they may contact you when they have more openings.

Or, even better, find some competiting publications that carry articles you have expertise in. Read the articles. With your experience, you can find a new spin on temely topics -- don't be afraid to "steal" ideas (and, no, of course not words or content!) or improve on them -- with your own unique experience and research. Pitch your ideas to a competing website or publication.

Seek out stories of inspiration and inspirational people and get them down on paper. Inspirational articles are hot right now and writing about inspiration on these topics can be both uplifting and lucrative.

Last but not least, go to and join an online critique group. The support you recieve and feedback can make a difference between a slew of rejections and a slew of "maybes" and

Restoring Faith in the Markets

Reading publishing news is downright depressing right now. If you frequent publishing industry websites and read about layoffs, bankruptcies, and other economic-downturn news, maybe it's time to
take a break. There are plenty of smaller venues out there that aren't "newsworthy..." i.e., there are actually new websites launching with the help of loans and start-up funds. For some reason,
these sites don't make the news. (They probably don't go with the popular themes of today!) Small businesses are also stepping up to fill niches when the "big buys" close shop.

Seek out new websites and send them a congratulations email. Ask them about their current -- and future -- freelance needs. Explain your services and how your work can improve their chances of survival.

You can find newly-launched ventures through press release websites such as and Sign up to get new press releases in your email every day.

Seek out new job boards and writing newsletters to get fresh opportunities in your email every week. Yahoo groups also has a huge assortment of writing job newsletters.

Buy a yearly "Markets" book from Writer's Digest Books or another publisher. They list thousands of markets in hundreds of niches and industries that always have needs for freelance articles.

Apply quickly. Keep a writing resume up-to-date and a file of your best writing clips on hand.

Restoring Faith in your Relationship

If you feel like the writing life has let you down, it's time to get reacquainted with it. Try writing for the love of it; if you write technical manuals try crafting a poem. If you write fiction try writing a real-life essay.

Re-commit to making a living. Get a ritual going -- Set a specific schedule to write and a specific schedule to market yourself. Drink a rewarding cup of coffee or tea at the beginning of your day. Spend a few hours applying for jobs and gigs and THEN write. The writing is your reward for the hard work. Write an assignment or write what you love. But write, no matter what!

Start a newsletter dedicated to your passion and write for the love of it. This is extremely rewarding if you're having trouble getting published lately -- you develop an audience and establish a reading base. You'll have clips every week and writing that you'll feel compelled to do!

Take a class at your local community college. Most of these classes nowadays are in the workshop format -- you'll have to do assignments and face critiques as well as encouragement. Most of all, you'll be exposed to new writers and experienced writers with a common goal; writing for the love of it.

Melissa Brewer is a freelance writer specializing in online content. She writes articles, tutorials, and online training materials for corporate and small business clients. She has taught classes on web writing in the past and recently published an eBook for writers: The Writer's Online Survival Guide, containing over 230 writing-specific job sources for writers online. She hosts a website for writers, the Web Writing Buzz, at
and publishes a corresponding newsletter with tips, resources, and jobs for writers at

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