The 3 Secrets to Successful Freelance Writing
Write, Rewrite and Market
The desire to write is both a blessing and a curse. Itís a blessing because it taps some of our most creative resources and forces us to find a way to express ourselves in the symbols we call words.
Itís a curse because getting it right, or even close, can be agony. Ah, but when it works, its sheer bliss, no matter how we get there.
Writing is also a blessing because it gives us the opportunity to share our ideas with others - potentially thousands, even millions of others. Not many ever get the chance to inform, influence and entertain that many people. Of course, thatís part of the curse too, because we have to find and reach our audience.
We all want an easier, softer way to write, and to get
It turns out there are three keys, or secrets, that are absolutely essential:
Sound obvious? Good. It should be obvious. Or were you expecting some magic? Some get rich quick scheme? Not here. Let's explore a bit and see where the truth is.
Nothing can happen if you don't sit down and write. There's no escape; if you want to be a successful freelancer you must get words on paper. The trick is to write and to write regularly, whatever that works out to be for you. It might be every day, or three days a week; it might be X number of words a day or even a complete chapter a day. The nature of the schedule you evolve - and it will change over time - isnít nearly as important as writing consistently.
Once youíve written, youíve got to rewrite. Okay], rewriting is usually no fun at all. But itís essential. Rewriting is where clarity and conciseness appear. It's in the rewriting that our personal style begins to shine through, setting us apart from others and making our work salable.
Rewriting may actually be part of your writing or it may be a separate activity done before or after generating something new. It may be done in bits and pieces or you may sit down to a marathon editing session. However you do it, rewriting must be done.
By the way, itís worth noting that some of your pieces will need more rewriting than other pieces. The more we practice writing, the better we get at turning out clean copy, at least most of the time. Even when youíve been writing successfully for years, however, some of your writing will need major rewriting. Itís a fact of the writing life.
The need to market is the bane of every writer's existence, but it's an absolute must if we are to be successful. Peter Bowerman, in his excellent The Well-Fed Writer, says, ďThe bad news: marketing yourself is a continuous process.Ē He also says that if you market yourself consistently (emphasis mine) weíll be something like 95% ahead of the competition. My own experience confirms this and I like to spend at least a third of my time marketing me.
Part of marketing is researching potential markets, but that doesnít count if youíre not out there contacting the publishers or others who may buy your material.
You just must find a way to become your own best sales person. Bowerman suggests cold calling potential clients, which can work if youíre looking for corporate, non-profit or business writing. If you want to be published in magazines, you must send queries or even articles on spec. Putting together book proposals counts if you get them in the mail.
It takes a while to get all three elements of successful freelancing working well together. But once you do, youíll find you are well on your way to becoming a successful freelance writer.