Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What are the characteristics of a freelance writer?

The main characteristics of the freelance writer are the ability to park his or her ego at the door, a huge amount of patience and perseverance. Without theses character traits, you won’t last long in the freelance writing business.

If you plan to operate a one-person operation you will need to learn about business plans, marketing, accounting, promoting, diversifying your writing, production techniques, and a personnel department all rolled into one. Isn’t that fun to contemplate?

As a freelance writer, you are at the mercy of the client. You may write the best copy, but the client may think he knows better and you might be rewriting the piece many times, possibly making it something that you know is bad, now you must be a diplomat while you try to convince the client that what you wrote is good. Since freelance writing is a service business, the client is always right. Even if you know better, the client’s word is the final say. You’ll find this with editors also.

Now you know why you need to leave your ego at the door. If you don’t, you could lose jobs and have a reputation as someone not to give assignments to write. You’ll wonder what is wrong and why you aren’t getting writing jobs and will not know.
Remember that rewrites are part of the game. If you take it personally, you are in trouble. Just remember that the client has the last word and you’ll do fine.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Aspiring Freelance Writer's Catch-22

Writing is work, and to come up with original work is not easy and to work just to get clips or for small pay is wrong. Have patience and the work will come in time.

What are clips? Clips are samples of your writing, so the client can see how you put words together to create tone, and to check your grammar and punctuation skills. Clips are samples of your published writing, No clips. This might be true for aspiring writers. Anything you have written, letters to the editor, a newspaper column, or something that shows you can write.

A prospective client may ask for a writing sample when applying for a job.

The Catch-22 comes from clients wanting experience when you have none, and how can you get experience if no one hires your for a job. This is something that many new freelance writers face on a daily basis. The best thing you can do is to write something every day while you continue looking for someone to hire you. This does not mean to hire out for peanuts or free. Freelance writers, whether new or seasoned should never write free, or for low pay.

Writing is work, and to come up with original work is not easy and to work just to get clips or for small pay is wrong. Have patience and work will come to you in time. One thing writers need is a boatload of patience, and a thick skin.

New writers have a tendency to be willing to work for any amount just to become a published author. This is wrong on many levels. The main thing this does is to diminish the work of all writers by working for an unrealistic amount for your hard work. Some clients love to find someone they can take advantage of, if you write for a pittance, they are taking advantage of as a professional.

This is another point of the Catch-22, taken advantage of because you want to gain clips.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What is in your writer's library?

Every writer needs a good collection of books and some software in their writer’s library.

Each writer will have his or her own favorite writing books. Numerous books on writing are available for various stores and online. Writers are free to choose whichever ones work for them.

Anyone that wants to be a writer needs some of the following books in his or her library:

A good dictionary, like the Merriam-Webster Collegiate
A good Thesaurus

The Chicago Manual of Style

If you write journalistic articles, or web content, a current Associated Press Guide to Newswriting.

If you write academic writing, a current MLA and APA may need to be in your library.

All writers should also consider a copy of Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

For those writers that wish to write Science Fiction, consider an old book, The Engines of the Night by Barry N. Malzberg (It is an out of print book, but you may be able to find a copy.)

The best thing any writer can do to help them learn their craft, it to READ in the genre you want to write.

On a personal note: A program called WordWeb Pro is a very helpful program which I use often.

Also, consider subscribing to Merriam-Webster online. For $29.95, you have access to a number of dictionaries, a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia online. You can sign up at Merriam-Webster Online.

Many publishers want documents in Word 97-2003 Document. If you happen to have Microsoft Office 2007, you have to option to save as Word 97-2003. It seems the Word 2007 has its own extension that some people may have trouble reading with older versions of Word.

Monday, November 3, 2008

So, you want to be a Freelance Writer

Becoming a freelance writer is the easy part. All you need is a computer and some basic knowledge of English. Then you write non-fiction articles. You are a freelance writer.

Now, if you want to be a published Freelance Writer, we are talking something different and more difficult. You can go to sites like Helium, and other sites where you can write for free, and hope for the best.

There are sites where you can bid on writing jobs. These sites are looking for the new and aspiring writer to work for peanuts. If you want to make money at freelance writing, you will have to work hard and not accept assignments that pay low wages per article, thereby lessening your worth as a writer, and other writers.

Freelance writing takes a special type of writer. A writer capable of writing on a number of different subjects, plus ghost writing, SEO web content, and copywriting to name a few types of writing projects.

A freelance writer needs to be a self-starter and able to meet deadlines. Many times, a writer will have to work under a short deadline to complete the assignment, he or she must be able to research, and complete the writing task on time. A professional writer NEVER misses a deadline. To miss a deadline or come up with excuses as to why you cannot finish the writing, says you are an amateur. In the eyes of the client, if a writer misses a deadline, it gives all writers a black eye.

It is better to pass on an assignment that you cannot complete within the deadline. You do not want to burn any bridges with clients. See if you can negotiate for a bit of extra time, or explain why you must pass on the assignment at this time. A freelance writer always needs to keep avenues of writing open with clients.

Freelance Writing is a job, just like any job that pays the bills. Writers need to approach it like one. When you as a writer, take on a writing assignment from a client, you owe your client the best work you are capable of producing. Anything less than a writer’s best should be unacceptable to the writer. If a writer does not do his or her best, then they should not have taken the assignment in the first place.

Do you still want to be a Freelance Writer?