How to Make $50,000 Over the Next 12 Months as a Freelance Writer Using a “Time Tested” Renegade Tactic
But most of us we would be happy making an extra $50,000 this year as a renegade freelance “hack”…..writing about stuff that interests us. Today I’ll show you how to make money as a freelance writer in hundreds, and in some cases thousands of markets.
On top of that…I’ve give you a simple step-by-step formula for landing paid writing projects. But first…the truth about my freelance writing experience.
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I don’t think anyone had less training or experience than I did when I started out as a freelance writer. I’m serious! My first freelance gig was for a publisher looking for people to write website reviews.
That’s right……website reviews for Pete’s sake! My first deal was for a publisher called IDG Books Worldwide Inc. After reading my cover letter they asked for writing samples and references for my published work. The bad news was I didn’t have any “writing samples” and I certainly didn’t have any so-called “published” work.
So here’s what I did….
Coming up with writing samples was easy, because the publisher told me he was looking for website reviews with an “edge.” I asked myself, “How hard can it be to write a website review with an “edge”? The publisher sent me a link to their published website reviews and said, “This is what I’m looking for.”
Rule Number One: Offer to write exactly what the publisher needs.
I studied hundreds of this first publisher’s website reviews and counted every word in each review. Then I studied the writer’s “voice and attitude.” By the time I was done, I understood exactly what the publisher needed.
I wrote twenty website reviews without stopping, using the publisher’s published content as a guide.
Rule Number Two: Use the publisher‘s content as a guide for landing projects
I submitted my website reviews and hoped to God the publisher didn’t ask for more samples or references – and he didn’t! After six days the publisher sent me an email claiming he loved my reviews. He sent me a contract via FedEx and my first paid writing gig was off and running!
But get this….. I contacted more than fifty publishers before I got this gig. So if you’re not persistent then freelance writing is NOT for you!
Rule Number Three: There are millions of publishers in the world today. Most of them need relevant content.
And this ties into my step-by-step formula for landing paid writing projects. If you want to land a freelance writing project it’s good to have focused persistence. Focus on projects in the markets you most enjoy. Writing about stuff you know something about is always easier than making stuff up.
My Step-by-Step Formula for Landing Paid Writing Projects
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Forget about writing free articles in order to get your feet wet. There are dozens of “content farms” on the Internet today seeking free articles. In fact, article writing with a view to search engine optimization is a monster market.
But most of the people and publishers seeking free articles (with the promise of massive exposure) are a joke. I know from personal experience.
A “content farm” typically offers to compensate freelance writers with worldwide exposure. The dirty secret is content farms typically reject most of the articles they receive. What’s more, when content farms actually shell out some money it’s usually peanuts.
You’re better off going to direct to publishers.
Now don’t get me wrong… Sometimes we’ll need to be willing to accept smaller projects and pay days. When I started out writing my Yahoo! Unplugged project (and IDG Books Worldwide, Inc) I was only paid ten cents a word!
TEN CENTS A FREAKING WORD!
But, I knew IDG Books Worldwide was a big company (they published the Dummie titles). They also had a history of working with freelance writers and actually paying them… so I knew this was a good opportunity. And sometimes a little money is better than no money if there are more opportunities down the road….
Anyway…..the first priority is to land a paid writing assignment.
1. Identify YOUR market
This shouldn’t be hard. What are you into? What did you read about today? Do you like the financial markets, horse breeding, online poker, natural health, Internet marketing, real estate, or Major League baseball? Focus on the stuff you’re passionate about.
If you write about stuff without any passion you can kiss your freelance projects goodbye. Readers will know if you don’t care!
My first paid gig was writing website reviews! I thought the web was the coolest thing in the world and I was really excited about it. Although I had many projects and businesses at the time the Internet captured my heart and soul.
2. Identify publishers (and writing projects) in YOUR market.
This is easy. The Internet makes research super simple. There are thousands of publishers and paid writing assignments online (I’ve listed some great ones in the Valuable Resources section).
You can search billions of documents, postings and listings instantly with Google. For example, let’s say you’re looking for publishers in the animals or pets market. Okay….enter the words “animal pet publication” or “publisher pets animals.”
There were millions of search results under these terms on Google.
Writer’s Market lists more than 8,200 markets and publishers who need writers!
3. Submit a proposal and add YOUR personality to it. Focus on the publisher’s audience!
It’s easy to write cover letters and proposals. But most cover letters are useless. I’m serious.
Would you talk to a friend or business acquaintance the way you write cover letters? If so, that’s why your cover letters do not inspire people to take action. Look….when you write a letter let the cat out of the box! Let YOUR personality shine.
You’ll be competing for writing projects with people who have more experience, savvy, and ability then you do. But who cares? The BEST way to get someone’s attention …even with a proposal is to let your personality shine. The trick is to focus on the publisher’s audience and reader – not on how much you’re going to get paid.
The biggest obstacle in securing freelance writing projects can be overcome by focusing on the PUBLISHER’S reader. Make sure you know who the publisher’s reader is BEFORE you submit a proposal. Don’t worry. Sometimes this only takes a few minutes. Read the publisher’s content!
Write like you talk in real life. You’re not an English teacher.
4. Submit work within the publisher’s guidelines – and BEFORE the deadline!
Every publication has submission guidelines. In most cases, the submission guidelines are easy to follow. When you land a writing project, deliver it before the deadline. In more than 18 years as a freelance writer I’ve only missed two deadlines. If you can follow submission guidelines and deliver projects on time you’ll soon have more work than you can handle.
A publisher once told me I was NOT the most proficient writer on their team (thanks a lot!). But he said I was the “go to guy” because I always delivered RELEVANT content on time! You want to be the “go to” guy or gal.
5. Always be looking for writing projects, even when your hands are full!
I’ve lived this principle for more than two decades in businesses. I’m always looking for the next project …or opportunity…even if my hands are full. Ask any freelance writer who’s making money and 90% will tell you they’re always on the lookout for new writing projects.
It’s that simple!
Identify the markets which turn you on, submit proposals with a little personality, follow the publisher’s submission guidelines, deliver stuff on time and always be on the lookout for new projects.
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*** Action Strategy ***
You’ve got everything you need to land your first paid writing project! Now it’s up to you to make it happen. Start by simply identifying the markets you would enjoy writing about. Keep in mind a lot of publishers are hungry for personal and lively “reviews” – especially travel, entertainment, and restaurant reviews.
Scour the resources in the Valuable Resources section and you’ll begin to see how huge the market is for freelance writers.
You’ll have a blast!
Have fun and play nice.
**********Valuable Resources *********
Writer’s Weekly (outstanding freelance writing newsletter)
Media Bistro (Freelance marketplace for writing projects)
Dan Poynter (a true freelance writing guru … with a massive contact database)
CraigsList Writing Gigs (Hundreds of freelance opportunities are posted every day)
Know More Media (blog networks, columns, and more)
Gebbie Press: 2011 The All-in-One Media Directory (8,200 newspaper editors, 1000+ magazine editors, TV and radio stations, and much more)
WritersNet (hundreds of publishers looking for writers)
BlogIt (Get paid to blog!)
Editor and Publisher (a fantastic resource … and another great source of contacts)
Newsletter Access (more than 9,000 email newsletter publishers looking for content)