Freelance Writing: The Pros and Cons

By Jennifer Hallmark

So, you’re writing the Next Great American Novel but want to make extra money in the meantime. Many opportunities abound in the world today: Writing for magazines, e-zines, newspapers, blogs, copywriting, and technical writing to name a few.

Take time to study the market versus your skills and then choose a direction and stick with it. If one type of writing doesn’t work out, try something that might suit you better. You can start penning words for free sites and building a resume which in turn could land you paying jobs.

What are the pros and cons of freelance writing?

The Pros include:

·         You can make your own schedule. This works great especially if you have another job or young children at home.

·         After you are established, you can choose the work you want.

·         You can write on a plethora of topics: the variety is endless.

·         Freelance writing can provide a good resume if you are trying to sign an agent or impress a publisher.

The Cons include:

·        Variety of payment amounts and sporadic time between payments.

·        Working at home can be distracting with chores and other family members close at hand.

·        Difficulty in finding the type of work that fits you best.

·        Burning out when writing novels and freelance.

The most important point is to weigh the money you’d like to make against whether you can work hard enough and write consistently enough to earn what you’d like to make. You might find a part-time job away from home that will meet your needs in a better way. If you’re still unsure, put aside a month and research the market, then send out a few queries to see if you can find interest in your ideas.

And don’t give up your novel writing. We can’t wait to read it…

Click to tweet: Freelance Writing: The Pros and Cons. #freelance #amwriting

Writing Prompt: Nancy circled the ad in the newspaper. Copywriters wanted. She wanted to prove to everyone that she could do this. But what if…

Copywriting 101

By Cammi Woodall

Think about your day so far. Have you seen a television commercial? Listened to an ad on the radio? Picked up a brochure for a new travel destination? Looked at a billboard? Logged on to a website for the newest restaurant in town?

Did you answer yes to any of these questions? Then you already have experience with copywriting.

So, what is copywriting? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a copywriter is a writer of advertising or publicity copy. As a copywriter, you are responsible for hooking the consumer with your words. How often do you skim advertising material without a second thought? Occasionally, though, something will catch your eye. A certain phrase or slogan can pull a consumer in, and a good copywriter will keep them there by using persuasive text. You as a copywriter want to make sure that customer feels they can’t live without your product!

What does this mean for you as a freelance writer? Don’t most businesses have a staff that does this for them? Not necessarily. Business today is very different from twenty years ago. There are thousands of companies that conduct business strictly online and more small businesses than ever before. Most cannot afford to have their own advertising department. That’s where you and your unique perspective come in.Writer journaling in a book

Copywriting jobs can range in size from writing the script for a 20 second radio spot to handling all media material for a new product launch. This could include brochures, media copy, social media content, television or radio script, educational material, demonstration videos, product packaging, and more! Every piece of advertising ephemera for a campaign or product is the result of a copywriter’s work.   

How do you get one of these jobs? There are several different ways.

–                      Network. Ask your family and friends. Dear Aunt Irma might know just the person you need to know!

–                      Apply for a job at a physical business. Go to your local newspaper office, radio station, or advertising agency. This could result in freelance work, but you might also become a staff member!

–                      Online job boards – I have never used one of these boards (I am learning about copywriting along with you), so I cannot give any personal advice. The ones that came up most in my research are Problogger, Contena, All Indie Writers, Blogging Pro, and Writers Weekly. My advice is to look at each board and see which one fits your style. On most, companies post freelance positions. You probably won’t get a large job right away, but the smaller jobs are a great way to build your portfolio.

–                      Social media. Does anybody remember when getting in touch with other people meant a phone call or a letter? Twitter and Facebook are both good sources of information. Look for boards that posts jobs, but also advertise yourself.

–                      Newspaper Classifieds. Yes, there are still paper newspapers out there.

–                      Pitch directly to a business. Is there a new store or boutique opening near you? Make a friendly call. New business owners might be more interested in stocking and construction. They might not be thinking about newspaper ads, business cards, Facebook pages, radio spots, or promotional brochures.

This article only covers a small portion of the expanse of copywriting. The internet has dozens of websites and thousands of articles on how to get started, how to create effective prose, how much to expect to earn, and more. Copywriting might not have been something you’ve thought about before, but I recommend you do some research. You could create the next ‘Where’s the beef?’ campaign!

 

Prompt – She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. This was one meeting she never wanted to attend. She opened the door and entered the room.

Freelance Writing for Newspapers

by Shirley Crowder

newspaperRecently I was asked, “How did you get your articles published in a newspaper?” I laughed and said, “I read my Facebook (FB) comments.” I knew from the confused look on this man’s face that I should fill in more details. I continued, “I called an FB friend whose comment on one of my Christmas posts was, ‘Call me’ followed by his telephone number … I called!”

This friend, Harry Butler, coordinates writers for “Paper Pulpit” in the Faith section of  The Gadsden (Alabama) Times. He told me to expand one of my posts and email it to him. Why limit carols to Christmas? was published in the online and print editions in February 2014. My articles continue being published—when I have sense enough to write and send them!

Let’s look at some things I have learned about writing for newspapers. I hope some of these will spur you on to identify, investigate, and submit articles for publication in newspapers.

Aren’t Newspapers Obsolete?

Not at all! Newspapers today are not the same as they were when I grew up. In those days you had four main sources of news: television, radio, print newspapers, and news magazines. You couldn’t find the news any time of the night or day, you had to wait until the newscast came on, the newspaper was delivered, and for the magazine to hit the stands or your mailbox. Not so, now. You can go online and find news about events, places, and people all over the world, at any time of the night and day.

Don’t limit your scope.

When you think of newspapers, be sure to include the online news sources, not just the daily newspapers. Think print AND online.

  • Many denominations have weekly or monthly conference or associational newspapers.
  • Communities often have their own small newspapers and are looking for articles on a wide range of topics.
  • News websites often need writers.
  • Clubs, Organizations, and Associations are looking for articles about the passion or focus of their club, organization, or association.

“I don’t even know where to begin.”

As with any writing project you need to do research. Here are some suggestions on how to get started:

INvestigateInvestigate

The most important step in writing for newspapers, as it is with any writing, is to investigate newspapers/news sources.

  • What newspaper is for and about your city, county, state, etc.?
  • Buy or download a copy each day for a week or so and read them cover-to-cover, making note of the type articles in each section on each day of the week that are things you could write about.
  • As you’re investigating and getting to know the newspaper, look on their website and get the submission guidelines and procedures. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines and procedures. (NOTE: Many newspapers now have online portals through which articles can be submitted.)
  • Does the paper accept articles from freelance writers? If not, don’t discount this newspaper. See the section below, “Other ways to be published in a newspaper.”
  • What types of articles will they accept: fiction, non-fiction, real-life accounts, humorous stories, historical accounts, etc.?
  • What is the newspaper’s preferred style of writing? Do they prefer articles that are more folksy than formal?
  • How many words do they want for articles?
  • What topics have they covered recently? What ideas did those give you for articles at different times of the year: summer, start of school, Christmas, etc.?
  • What types of people, places, events, and things do they tell about in their newspaper?
  • Does the newspaper have a foundational political point of view? If so, does it match yours?

Think about …

You may get an inroad at a newspaper by writing an op-ed piece, a letter to the editor, or a book review.

writeWrite

Now you can begin writing your article, keeping in mind all the things you learned about what types of articles the paper publishes.  

  • Make certain to follow their submission guidelines. How many words? Is there a specified font size and line spacing?
  • I always find it helpful to put whatever I am writing aside for a day or so and go back for a careful edit and proof. Then, proof it again! It is also a good idea to have at least one other person proof your writing before you submit it.

sendPitch / Submit

From the submission guidelines, you will know whether you need to send a pitch/inquiry or just submit your article.

If you are to submit a pitch/inquiry, be as concise as possible. Many editors say you should be able to state in one sentence what the article will be about. Remember Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet saying, “Just the facts.” The pitch or inquiry should include:

  • The headline or article title.
  • Some articles have a line that appears just below the heading that describes what the article will be about. You will know from your investigative work if articles similar to yours need to have one.
  • Write a paragraph that briefly describes the article.
  • Give them a bullet-point listing of your published articles, including the date of publication and the publication name. Do not embellish here.
  • Do not send attachments unless specified in the submission guidelines. Only send pictures if they request them.
  • Be patient as you wait for a response. Usually, the submission guidelines tell you in what time-frame they will respond to you and how they will respond, via email, snail mail, etc.
  • Keep writing and submitting articles while you wait!
  • Some newspapers pay for articles and some do not. The submission guidelines will specify this. If you are trying to break into freelance newspaper writing, you may want to write some free articles or articles that don’t pay much to get some articles in your writing portfolio.
  • If they accept your pitch/submission, be certain to meet their deadline, and if possible, get it in a little early. Editors will love you!
  • If your pitch/submission is rejected, carefully evaluate your article and submit it to another newspaper. Write another article and submit it to the same newspaper.

What idea do you have that would make a good newspaper article?

Click to Tweet: Do you have a great idea for a newspaper article? #amwriting #newspapers #inspiredprompt

Freelance Writing: Book Compilations

By Jennifer Hallmark

Book compilations. Freelance writing. Can the two be combined? Isn’t a compilation a bunch of novellas yoked together?

Sometimes.

A compilation is, in simpliest terms, a gathering or compiling of different items to produce a finished product. So, yes, a book compilation can be several novellas that fit together. Christmas and romance compilations are very popular.

But I’ve been part of four compilations that did not fit the novella template. The first I was part of, gathered by Tracy Ruckman, then of Write Integrity Press, was a novella called A Dozen Apologies. I was asked to contribute a chapter to the work which consisted of one novella. Later, Tracy asked me to contribute a chapter to another novella, Unlikely Merger.

I also took part in a short story compilation, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, compiled by Jennifer Slattery. She added two of my short stories to the compilation which centered around the Fourth of July.

Lastly, I contributed an essay to the non-fiction book, Not Alone: A Literary & Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility & Miscarriage, edited by Jessica Snell. I shared my difficult journey of a miscarriage that I hoped would help others dealing with this type of tragedy.

Four compilations. Four different works that had different contracts, expectations, and three different editors and publishers. But since a freelance writer is a writer who is self-employed, writing for book compilations is a good way to supplement your income. If you are prolific, you can make a living at it. Or at least make a little money while you write the next Great American Novel.

I love being part of a book compilation because the writing was fun and I enjoyed working with different editors and people who also took part in the work. It was a great learning experience for me and proved to be helpful as I prepare to launch my first novel next June.

I asked some of my friends the same question and they said:

I love being part of a book compilation because…

Julie Arduini: “I love being part of a book compilation because it allows the opportunity to work with some of my favorite authors. Before I started writing to publish, I was a voracious reader. The authors are talented and writing with them made me want to stretch and grow in my craft. Readers also are able to enjoy the creativity that evolves when the compilation has a theme, like A Christmas to Remember. The authors take that one premise and write. Not one story is the same, and yet they are sewn together by the theme. Mixing the authors and theme together creates a beautiful tapestry that I pray is a gift to readers when they open our compilation.”

Find Julie’s book at Amazon.

Eva Marie Everson: There is the challenge–and as an author I love challenges–to writer tighter than usual. I cannot tell my story in 100,000 words. Or even 85,000. I have 20-25,000 words to draw readers in, keep them in, and take them to a satisfying conclusion. A Southern Season was my first attempt at this. Much harder than I thought, but incredibly satisfying when I was done. And I got to work with great authors like Claire Fullerton, Ane Mulligan, and Linda W. Yezak!

Find Eva Marie’s book at Amazon.

Claire Fullerton: Being a contributor to a book compilation gives the great gift of camaraderie to a writer. There is supportive resonance in group association, and I find the act of being a team-player rife with motivation. I was recently invited to be a contributor to a compilation of four novellas, in a book titled A Southern Season (Firefly Southern Fiction.) Four authors contributed to this book, with the only guidelines being that each novella was to be set in the South, during one of the four seasons. I chose the autumn, and felt as I wrote my novella that I was upholding my end of what would be a book comprised of a year’s full cycle. Because autumn is a month I associate with decline, I chose to set my novella at a Memphis funeral, replete with bouts of nostalgia, Southern customs, and social mores. Though I have been given the proof, intentionally I have not read the contributions of the three other authors who contributed to the book. I am waiting until the November 1st release of A Southern Season, and am looking forward to reading its entirety, with the satisfaction that will come from being a part of this compilation.

Find Claire’s book at Amazon.

Ginger Solomon: “I feel blessed to join with other authors in group sets because we all write with similar goals in mind, glorifying God in our writing and blessing our readers with clean stories. And it’s a great opportunity for readers to find out if they like what I write while getting other great books to read at the same time.”

Find Ginger’s book at Amazon.

Elizabeth Maddrey: “I love being part of a book compilation because it’s a great chance to be introduced to new readers who are fans of author friends but who are new to me.”

Find Elizabeth’s book at Amazon.
Linda Yezak: I love being in a compilation because it affords me the opportunity to write in genres other than my brand. I get a kick out of it. In November this year, my novella Ice Melts in Spring will be released from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina’s Firefly imprint. This is my first purely Christian Women’s Fiction novella, meaning that if you take the Christian theme out, the story will crumble. In August of 2018, my first historical romance novella, Loving a Harvey Girl, will be released through LPC’s Smitten imprint. Ordinarily, I write contemporary “cowboy” romance, so going off track is fun!
Find Linda’s compilation book at Amazon.

Freelance Writing: Find Your Strength and Focus

This month’s topic is Freelance Writing. It’s a great way to break into the world of publishing and make a little extra money to boot. Here’s a great thought by my friend, Kathy Cheek. Also check out the information about her new devotional release, First Breath of Morning, at the end of the post…

By Kathy Cheek

As I navigated my freelance writing journey I developed a practice that helped me make decisions and move forward in my goals. Today I will share that with you.

Find Your Strength and Focus, then do the thing you are good at with excellence.

The objective I applied in this practice was to look for areas of God’s blessing. What was I doing that I could see He was actively blessing? Where was He opening doors of opportunity? Where was He closing doors?

This will help examine where you should place your focus and will help you recognize your strengths and keep you from spreading yourself too thinly.

You don’t need to keep doing everything you started out doing. As you move forward after a time of trial and error—trying to see what works and what doesn’t, what you like and don’t like, you will most likely discover what is more beneficial to your goals.

Setting Goals for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

Yes, at first you should try everything and then with experience find the areas which you can narrow and focus.

In my experience it was realizing my strength would be devotional writing since I like to be able to pack a powerful message in few words, similar to a poet or songwriter. But there isn’t a market for poetry and I am not a songwriter.

I had tried feature writing, Bible study pieces, lifestyle blog posts, and inspirational pieces, but kept coming back to the devotional writing with my own style and flare. Then I targeted the devotional market and built a reputation and resume as a devotional writer in print and online.  I worked toward the goal of a devotional book, and my first book, First Breath of Morning, has been published and was just made available this week!  (See Below)

I was much happier and more satisfied when I found my strength and could focus my efforts on a writing style that worked well for me. If that changes, I will change my focus. I think it is also important to be open to our dreams changing and shifting over time. Which brings me to my last two thoughts: Be attentive and follow God’s lead. Be ready for Him to open brand new doors.

Kathy’s book, First Breath of Morning – Where God Waits For You Every Day – A 90 Day Devotional is newly released, click on title for ordering info.

Click to tweet: Want to become a freelance writer? Kathy Cheek says, “Find Your Strength and Focus, then do the thing you are good at with excellence.” #WritingAdvice #amwriting


First Breath of Morning – Where God Waits For You Every Day

First Breath of Morning is multi-themed with 90 devotions in six chapters that portray a beautiful picture of our walk with God through drawing near, growing our relationship, leaning into His love, strengthening our faith, trusting Him through every circumstance, and exalting Him in worship. The messages in First Breath of Morning will refresh your faith and renew your trust in God. First Breath of Morning is an Invitation to the relationship God wants to have with us every day and it starts in the first breath of each new morning where He is already waiting for you.

You can find out more about her book at this link on her Devotions from the Heart website: First Breath of Morning Book Info Page.

First Breath of Morning: Click Here To Purchase Paperback  
Click Here to Purchase eBook.


Kathy Cheek writes faith-filled devotions and is published in LifeWay’s Journey magazine and Mature Living, and also contributes to several devotional sites, including Thoughts About God, Christian Devotions, and CBN.com.

Her favorite subject to write about is the rich relationship God desires to have with us and the deep trust it takes to live it out. She and her husband of 33 years live in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas and they have two daughters and one son-in-law who also reside in the Dallas area. You can read more of her devotions at www.kathycheek.com.

Kathy is thrilled to announce her book First Breath of Morning – A 90 Day Devotional was contracted to be published and is now available ! You will find info and a description of the book on her Book News page at Devotions from the Heart.