It's time for another guest post! This time it's from Ingrid Cruz, a freelance writer.
Yes, WITW is about fiction writing but, if you're interested in it, freelance writing can be a great boost for a fiction writer. Depending on what you write about, you can use it as some extra income, a new career path or to promote your books.
So, Ingrid is going to share with us how to get started and what you need to know before embarking on your freelance writing journey.
Over to you Ingrid...
I’ve always enjoyed writing and telling stories. As a kid, my favorite thing to do at school was read. I remember seeing price tags at the back of books when I’d check them out of the library, and I remember paying for books, magazines, or even newspapers. Somehow I never connected the words on the page with an actual living human being that expected to pay for their bills with this endeavor.
Several friends in college had done some freelance writing when I was in college, but I didn’t get the opportunity to try this on my own until I was 25 years old. I had taken two courses with Donna Ladd called Shut Up and Write! One course was about creative nonfiction, while the other one was about freelance writing, and covered how to pitch and how to know what to charge. I’ve been freelance writing since then, but have only been doing this full-time since 2015.
Here are a few things I had to learn in order to be able to embark on a freelance career.
If you want to do any type of writing, you’ve got to learn how to pitch. Some writers think this is something you only do for magazines, blogs, or niche websites, but the truth is that you’ve got to pitch for copywriting and ghostwriting as well. There are many websites that educate writers on best practices, the do's and don’ts, and that publish a variety of jobs that could help you narrow your niche while also saving time.
Research, Research, Research
Inevitably you will define a niche, or decide you’re more of a generalist. You may decide you want to focus on fiction, which would mean you’d pick a genre. Whatever your life’s circumstances, you should always research the places you’re applying to. Doing so will let your potential clients know that you care about what they do, and will help you be more prepared in case you have an interview. Plus, it’ll give you an idea of whether or not you truly want to work there.
Learn About Payment Methods and Schedules
Getting a job that pays you immediately after you submit is difficult, but such employers exist. In the meantime, always read your contract, which will mention when you should expect to get paid for your work. If you submit your work to magazines or other publications, you might wait between 30 to 60 days after publication, and this is standard in the industry. Other places will pay you once per week, every two weeks, or every month. Some places expect you to have PayPal and won’t even hire you if you don’t have an account, while others may be able to transfer your payments directly to your bank account. Several places may (gasp!) still send you a check.
Don’t ever be self-conscious about asking questions. Make sure deadlines, expectations, rates, word count, and other matters are clear before you start on a project. Your editor would rather answer any of your doubts before you start a project. Hint: it’s best to make a list of all your questions instead of bombarding your poor editor, but other than that, just know that not asking enough questions has killed many freelance writing careers.
Expect Some Losses
There are many websites that teach you potential red flags you should look out for (this link is for designers but many of these red flags ring true for freelance writers as well). Unfortunately you will run into circumstances where your client doesn’t pay you regardless of how good you are at your job. I can say that this has been rare for me, in part because my years of experience have helped me see these red flags. However, this does happen and there are several ways to handle this as well.
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