Saturday, May 30, 2009

How to get that freelance writing job

Do you have to be a good writer to make it as a freelance writer? Probably. But sometimes you can get that freelance writing job simply by being persistent.

There are a lot of writers out there who are merely serviceable when it comes to stringing together sentences and paragraphs. There is no poetry in what they write. But they're successful,and you see their byline all over the Web.

How do they do it? They probably bug their editors for story ideas all the time. Persistence is the real key to success in landing all those writing jobs.

Last week, I got a good freelance writing job through this approach. One of the trade magazines that I've long written for is going through tough times now thanks to the economy. Ad sales are down, so the space available for freelancers has shrunk.

I'd still been getting fairly regular assignments from my editor until 2009 rolled around. Suddenly, I was getting nothing.

So I went to work being a bit of a pain. I made sure to contact my editor at the magazine every other week. Sometimes it'd just be a quick reminder that I was interested in freelance stories if the editor had any to pass out. Other times, I'd pitch specific story ideas.

Things weren't going well with this approach until Friday. This time, I sent another specific story idea. And, wonders of wonders, my editor responded and said that she'd like to see the story.

Best of all, this isn't some rinky dink $12 content article. This is a real freelance assignment, one that requires interviews, research and critical thinking. And it pays $1,000. And that's $1,00 that I desperately need these days.

So there's an example of the power of persistence. I used to take silence from editors as "no." Today, though, I can no longer afford to do so. Today I keep banging away at my editors until I do finally get that "no." And sometimes, if I'm lucky, I get that "yes" instead.


  1. This is so encouraging to read- that persistence pays off. I am new to freelance writing and sometimes feel like I'll never get published. But hearing stories like this one gives me the motivation to keep on writing!

  2. Thanks for writing, Rachel. I've been in freelance writing for more than 15 years now. I still get discouraged whenever an editor doesn't respond to one of my queries or passes on a story idea. I think that's natural: We're all very protective of our ideas and stories, and sometimes we think they're a bit better than they actually are.

    Still, writing is the best job I can think of, even with all the stress that comes with it.


  3. Dan I would think freelancers would be more in demand. Wouldn't magazines cut back on full time staff with their salaries and benefits first. Congrats on the assigment. I think persistence is the secret. Just had a feature article published due to my persistence. I was flexible as was the editor, who believed in the story.

  4. Hi, Stamperdad:

    I think what's happening is that publishers are trying to squeeze more work out of their staffers. Editors, for instance, are writing more of their magazine's own stories instead of farming them out to other writers.

    Congratulations to you, too, on getting the assignment. And thanks for visiting.