Saturday, September 12, 2009

Filling in the gaps with content writing

This probably won't go down as one of my better years financially. It's tough to be a freelance writer these days. Real tough. Life's especially difficult because I specialized in writing about residential real estate.

If you ever watch the news or read your local newspaper -- if it's still in business -- you know that the housing market crashed recently. That crash took a lot of my freelance-writing jobs with it. Three of the real estate trades I wrote for are no longer in business. Four others stopped hiring freelancers.

Yes, that stinks. But I've managed to fill in the gaps a bit. My yearly income will still be down, but it'll be enough to keep us in our home and eating food that isn't macaroni-and-cheese.

One of my big breaks was to hook up with a small publishing company called Publications International Limited. They put out silly books, including the Armchair Reader series. These books focus on strange or goofy facts. I'm currently writing several pieces for the company's Vitally Useless book, filled with, of course, vitally useless information. Not to give too much away, but I've already written about Mighty Mouse, famous transvestites, the world's most dangerous occupations and Asian ice cream flavors. I hope to pick up even more work from them this month.

I also maintain a strong relationship with GateHouse Media, which produces a whole slew of special sections for smaller newspapers across the country. The pay per piece isn't great for these, but the work is generally quite easy. The stories, which tend to center on things like identifying the risks of having a heart attack and picking the right type of deck for your backyard, usually don't require interviews. And the stories are rarely longer than 400 words.

I also ghostblog for a real estate agent in my hometown. I get paid by the post, and the real estate agent sends me my check about three days after I invoice him. Not bad at all.

These are just some examples of the diversity that is needed to survive as a freelance writer today. The days of doing one thing are pretty much over, unfortunately. I have no idea, either, if they'll ever come back.

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