Sunday, January 20, 2013

Advice to Writers

As I've been doing this blog I have been mostly focusing on my creative writing, in words other sharing my fantasy fiction, poetry, short stories, and so on and so forth. I've also tried to make this a promotional thing for my stories. All this aside however, I suddenly realized that there are others like me out there who might find this information useful. As freelance writers we are on a journey, and it is one we likely won't get far on if we try to embark on it alone. I would like to see more communities for freelance writers who could get together and network, wouldn't it be great if we could help each other? If someone does see something like this let me know and in exchange I've decided to offer my knowledge. So here is some advice to  writers. In the spirit of both being practical and trying to help out my brothers and sisters in the craft I've decided to offer my own freelance writing tips.

The first difficulty you're going to face is an obvious one. Who's going to pay you to write? Who's looking for people to write fiction or poetry? The latter I can tell you not many. My first bit of writing advice: save poetry for a hobby. You can start a blog or a website like many or just share it with friends, but find some way to share it. Local magazines may also be interested so don't be afraid to send in some submissions, but poetry writers should be prepared for the fact that poetry may not be a step in their journey towards greatness.

As for article writers, these are the people who will be most successful in the beginning. I've written a few short stories and been paid for them, at least three of those stories are ones that I can claim credit for. I was not able to get a story published, however, until i proved to other that I could write. Many story writers have started out as article writers, copy writers, or content writers, whatever you want to call it. Believe it or not the three are pretty similar, but these are freelance writing tips, this is not me writing a book on freelance writing, perhaps I'll write that some day. Anyway, the first work I ever published was not a novel or a short story, and certainly was not a poem. The first work I ever published, that I was paid for (that's important because anyone can publish as I'm publishing on this blog, not everyone can get paid for it, that's what paying clients will want to see) The first work I published and was paid for was written at the time of last year's republican primary for the presidential race of 2012, that's right, it was a political commentary. I was paid a small sum and featured on Yahoo! news, the article received over 5,000 hits in just a few days, and Yahoo! asked for another a few weeks later. Unfortunately unless your articles hit millions on Yahoo! you won't get many offer to write, so I used Yahoo! as a stepping stone. At last now I had two articles, political commentaries, that i was paid for and was featured on a reputable website. I could put these in my portfolio and proved to potential clients that I could not only write, but write professionally. Those of us who would strive to write then, may wish to start out as article writers. So my first bit of advice to writers, be willing to write outside what you want to write. Sometimes writing is a chore and it is work, and you have to start somewhere, so be flexible.

When you are writing an article that seems boring and is not on a subject you love writing about, try to remind yourself that you could sitting in a cubicle or killing yourself in a warehouse, or worse yet flipping a burger. As a freelance writer, you're sitting at home in front of a computer, and doing something you enjoy, writing! And you are getting paid to do it! So there's your first freelance writing tip.

Now my next advice to writers is this: you have to find a place to network with potential clients, and you have to make sure it's reliable. In the spirit of giving freelance writing tips that are practical and help us avoid potential problems, I will offer my own experience. There are many great freelance writing markets, so use them. My preferred freelance writing market of choice is, is another, and more newly discovered also offer freelance writing opportunities. These websites offer you two things: first there's the network aspect of it. The websites connect you with thousands of people who are looking for someone just like you. You can apply for writing jobs and as you beef up your profile with experience, skills, and a great portfolio, some of the jobs will come running to you! So you need a middleman to connect you to those potential freelance writing clients. The second thing these website offer you is security. In other words you now you're going to get paid for the work you do, but only if you follow my next piece of advice to writers...

I haven't used the other websites, so i can only speaker for my freelance writers on Odesk. When you look at a potential client or job there's things you need to look for. First don't ever work with these people outside of Odesk. This means you no longer have the power. First of all it's a violation of Odesk's terms, therefore don't even both reporting someone once you've been scammed, but secondly it taes away all the safeguards Odesk intentionally put in place. First there's the power of feedback, most clients care about their reputation and want to work with other writers on Odesk. So if they don't pay you or are difficult to work with you have the power to leave negative feedback, but only if you actually start a contract THROUGH Odesk. Secondly when you actually work as a freelance writer on a site like Odesk look for some things before you agree to it. The first thing to look for is if their payment method is verified. This means they have a credit card, bank account, or some other means connected to their Odesk account in order to pay those who work for them. If this is not verified and they're already hiring people, in my experience, they have no intention of paying you for your freelance writing. Also make sure they have good feedback, what others experience has been in the past is a good indication of what it will be with you. If they don't have any feedback it's ok to take a risk, maybe they are just new to the website. But if you want to get paid for freelance writing, make sure the payment method is verified. These are just a few measures to protect yourself.

So freelance writing markets like Odesk, freelancer, etc. etc. Are useful for at least two things for freelance writing jobs. One it connects you to people you'd otherwise spend years finding, and two it creates a system that allows you to get paid, and provides safeguards should predators take advantage, and they are out there. So take my advice to writers, don't write without a proven client like one of these freelance writing markets, UNLESS, you know the person personally. I might make a whole new blog post about freelance writing scams, but for now I'll only touch on it briefly. Beware of freelance writing scams. If you practice the above advice, chances are you won't have a problem.

Now back to becoming article writers. My advice to writers is only take jobs you can handle. I write as a freelancer but I also work a "real" job away from the computer to pay the bills. So if somebody has a job where I'm required to sit at my computer 8 hours a day or write large amounts articles that require that much time I don't take them. Remember you can give feedback for clients you work with, but they have the same ability, and it can take years to build a reputation as a great freelance writer, but only a day to destroy. I have 6 positive 5 star feedbacks from clients I've worked with. At this point one negative feedback could send me right back to the drawing board, and if I take a job I can't handle and fail to meet the deadline or the high standards, it could ruin my previous hard work. Also make sure that as article writers you only take jobs writing on a subject matter you either understand or can easily learn. If you don't know what you're writing about it could show in your performance.

Once you've built a reputation more jobs will become available to you, be willing to start small. If you work for a client who only pays you $1 per article, as I started, and receive positive feedback, it makes you more desirable for those who pay more. I have grown my income in this manner, but I've had to start small, and I continue grow in babysteps. Eventually as I've had to humble myself as a freelance writer jobs have opened up to me that I wanted in the first place, but I had to start small.

My last piece of advice to writers is this: it is a journey not a destination. Keep this in mind and over the years you may yet achieve your dreams of becoming a freelance writer. I hope you enjoyed my freelance writing tips, I hope to publish more in the future if this proves to be something that generates some interest. Thanks for reading and best of luck in your pursuits.

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