This is an excerpt from an excellent article I ran across which details some excellent, concrete truths about freelancing and the steps aspiring career writers can take.
Here’s a quick summary and one of the main points I’ve found critical to my growth:
Freelance writing is not an easy way to make a living. More and more people are asking writers to write for free, and those that pay are often paying the same as they were in the 1970s. A great rate of pay today is around 50 cents a word – the Walrus boasts as much as a dollar or two – but you’ll be lucky to get it from most publications. I’ve written for far less, because they were pieces I really wanted to publish or outlets I wanted my name in.
If you’re determined, though, you can make a go of it. Here’s a few tips that might help you on your way.
Balance your money-making projects with your passions
Not all freelance writing is the exact writing you want to be doing. We can’t all be George Packer, alternating between writing features for The New Yorker and the occasional best-selling book. Some of the writing you’ll have to do is more mechanical than that: writing for trade publications, university PR departments, lesser websites, local newspapers – whatever you can find. And that’s okay, if it frees you up to spend some time writing the pieces you really want to write for less money.
That’s common advice, but it comes with a caveat: don’t compromise yourself. Keep to your own ethical standards, whatever they may be, and avoid conflicts of interest. If you’re writing for a trade publication, don’t let it be one that covers the topics you really care about. If, for example, your passion is medical research, don’t write for a medical supply publication. That will put you in a real or perceived conflict of interest the next time you want to write about the business, and that is not a situation you want to be in.
Check out the link for the full article. I’d say every point it makes has been applicable to my career at some time or another, and many of the steps are ones I still try to stay on top of to this day.
If you’re an aspiring/developing freelance writer, where are you at in your efforts? Did any of these steps give you something new to consider?