Faith in Your Freelance Writing Business
By Melissa Brewer
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"
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 www.yahoogroups.com
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"
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
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
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
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.
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,
and publishes a corresponding newsletter with tips, resources, and
jobs for writers at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/webwritingbuzz/.