When a new writer asks me how to start making money freelancing, they usually ask “What are the rules?” You can buy many books and take classes on freelancing, but there are some pieces of advice that are pure common sense.
1) Do not pitch pieces until you already write well.
You don’t start writing by asking to be hired. A wanna-be teacher doesn’t apply for a teaching position before acquiring the degree. If you need fast money, then find something else to do. You cannot pitch substandard work without making a memorable negative mark on the mind of an editor. Editors do not like being used as practice markets. And yes, your English must read like it’s your first language.
2) Know that market well.
Sounds almost like a cliche, but believe it or not, most of the queries I receive have nothing to do with FundsforWriters. Same goes for most blogs, magazines, and periodicals. Many writers sling articles out hoping they fit somewhere. Editors get more than enough good articles to select from without sorting through those that don’t. And yes, word count matters. Pitch smart and accurately. Clean and intelligently.
3) Do not ask for the guidelines.
Editors do not have time to teach you how to write for them. It’s your job to read the publication, hunt for guidelines, and pitch correctly. When you write and ask what an editor needs and how they want it, expect rejection. The exception to this rule is if you are well-established as a freelancer, can tout a serious string of credentials with superb publications, and want to write a letter of introduction instead.
4) Do not argue with the editor.
Arguing with an editor is asking for rejection. They don’t have time for that. They also know better than you what best fits the publication.
Tough love indeed. A newbie or hobby writer may find these four lessons harsh. But the industry is not for the thin-skinned, and only those with fortitude and the will to succeed will last . . . and bother to freelance correctly.
BIO: C. Hope Clark is author of seven mysteries set in her beloved South Carolina, and founder of the award-winning FundsforWriters.com – www.chopeclark.com
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