A lot of us at some point or the other want to or have wanted to write a book. Some will go on to produce good texts and probably bag a book deal with a top name publisher. The rest will keep dreaming about having decent writing skills and of course, about that book deal.
However, very few of us do any preparation to achieve the goal of becoming a writer. A lot of people seem to think that you need to produce a complete book for a publisher to bring it out. And they forget that maybe some writing examples will help in getting some experience and early feedback on their work.
Freelance writing is one way of gaining some experience in creating a cohesive text, showcasing your work, getting some feedback and in the journey helping you make money in freelance writing to make ends meet.
Can you make money freelance writing?
Yes you can. There are people making $250 / hour and giving out instructions on how to do it. You can make money freelance writing for small businesses to begin with and grow your hourly rates to attract the large ones. Believe me when I say the large businesses and people who will pay you good money for your freelance writing I’m not talking about content mills like freelancer.com, elancer.com, craiglist, gumtree etc. Do not waste your effort searching for freelance writing gigs there. It’s not worth it any more.
But can you do freelance writing and build a career?
This is where you need an action plan. Let’s assume you want to publish a book, here is what I would do to accomplish that goal:
- Do freelance writing to make some money whilst training for the book.
- Start a blog / website to write some pieces and get feedback.
- Grow a reader community and network with fellow writers.
- Pitch to a publisher (big or small).
1. Do freelance writing to make some money whilst training for the book
Whilst trying to build a career in writing or to have the best chances of publishing a book, we’ve already agreed that you need to do some freelance writing to hone your skills. If during that period you were able to earn some money, it would help you stay motivated towards your end goal. Thepensters.com are one such business that are on the lookout for freelance writers. You may become a freelance writer with them.
2. Start a blog / website to write some pieces and get feedback
Blogging is one way to spend some time and build a regime in writing. It helps get your writing out in the real world and will help you get some real feedback on your writing. By blogging you will also be able to attract businesses who have some freelance writing gigs on offer. Which means, by blogging you will be able to do two things
- Gain some experience in writing and showcase to publishers.
- Build a portfolio that you can use to make money in freelance writing.
3. Grow a reader community and network with fellow writers
To become a writer and publish, you really need to know what standard of writing the rest of the industry is on. And idea that you had when you were fifteen wouldn’t necessarily work now or get a publisher interested 10 years later.
Read what other writers are writing, if you go down the freelance writing route, check other blogs and articles leave comments and build your profile. To make money from freelance writing you need to have good connections and network and that is also true for getting a book deal – networking is important.
4. Pitch to a publisher (big or small)
This is all you’ve been working for. Once you’ve done your share of training and building a network, you can pitch to publishers.
Don’t simply stick to the large publishers, write to the small ones too. Get started with researching who is in the publishing industry and reach out to independent companies. Inspired Quill is one of such small independent publishers in the UK (the founder of IQ is an alumni from the same university as me).
Good luck with it.
I hope you go on to have a good writing career. And whilst your chasing your dream, be pragmatic and remember that you can fall back on freelance writing gigs to make some money.