Tale of Freelance Success as a Writer & Photographer
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decided to try freelance writing when I was diagnosed with cancer and was
too weak to work full time in an office. It was the best decision of my life because I
really wasn't confident that I could make a living freelancing, and I don't
believe, but for the circumstances that I would have tried.
I am fortunate that I worked for seven years at a
local newspaper and tried my hand at feature/travel articles while employed
there. I also am an award-winning photographer and since most magazines
want to include photos, this was a big plus in the magazine industry.
I began with a horse magazine, because I have
owned, trained and bred horses for over 40 years. Write what you know. We've all
heard that bit of wisdom. Luck had a lot to do with my first assignment. I contacted
a popular horse magazine by phone to inquire about their guidelines and the
assistant editor answered the phone. This rarely happens and most editors will
NOT take phone calls. They would rather have you query them first by mail or
e-mail. But I digress.
After telling the editor I was available in my
area, I mentioned my credentials and he asked me if I would be interested in
covering a major horse show event a couple hours' drive from my home. I didn't
even pause to take a breath, and replied "yes". In fact, I forgot to even ask
what they would pay. My immediate goal was to compile a "clip" file.
Every magazine editor wants to see
clips of your previous work. It's
a catch 22 situation when you want to begin to strike out on your own and you
have no clips to show. The best thing to do in that case is to write letters to
the editor of your local newspaper and save them as "clips". Another great way
to begin is to submit to the low-paying or non-paying magazines. These may be
magazines just starting out or low-budget publications. They are much more
willing to accept something from an "unknown" writer.
Writing your story
is the easy part. Selling the story to a magazine is the most
difficult of all. You have to have a "hook". Something that will catch the
editors eye. But even more important that, is submitting it to the proper genre
magazine. The internet is a great tool. I looked up all the freelance writers'
positions. I printed out about two dozen magazines that I felt I would have
good luck with.
It was four months between my first assignment and
my second. Then it was just a month, now I'm getting assignments almost every
week. If you are currently employed, don't quit your day job, unless you want to
It took me
approximately two full years to have enough assignments to keep me paid enough
to make a living. It might have gone faster, had I not been ill at
the beginning. I just couldn't get in gear sometimes to do my
homework. Fortunately, I am now cancer-free and raring to go.
Don't wait to get
assignments. Write as many articles as you think you can sell, then go to work
sending queries to as many editors as possible.
Make certain that the magazine you are submitting to, allows simultaneous
submissions. Many do not like the idea of having an article on their desk for
possible publication, when the writer has farmed it out to a dozen other
Once things get
moving along, you can pick and choose the magazines that pay a decent amount for
your work. The higher paying magazines are the most difficult to break
into. I now am in a position that I can negotiate my fee at the magazines that I
do a frequent amount of assignments for. You have to be flexible in this area.
Most magazines do
not pay expenses so whatever your field of expertise, keep it close to home.
Often when I'm on vacation, I think of it as a working vacation and try to find
as many things to write about as possible. I have also branched into travel
I keep track of all my submissions in a notebook
and follow up on them with an e-mail. Waiting is the most difficult because most
will have you wait six to eight weeks for a response. Luckily some magazines
will accept queries by e-mail and that keeps things moving much more quickly.
You have to have a
lot of dedication and self discipline to work as a freelance writer but it's
great once the business takes off. I am now doing what I love to do and getting paid
About the Author:
Nancy Burchianti; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
©2006 Nancy Burchianti
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