We have covered several topics the last month on writing successfully. By now you should have something written, or maybe you have a talent you want to explore. This week I want to cover how to get your stuff out there. I do not, by any means, have all the answers. What I do have is experience about what does and does not work. It is important to remember that what worked for me, may not work for you. And the things that ended badly for me, those same things you may find success. Each of our styles is different, but that is a good thing. As we have discussed before, who needs another copycat author.
First thing first, you must decide what you want to write about. In our blog about where our ideas come from, we talked about writing what you know and learning new things to challenge yourself. Defining yourself is a little different than that. This is about finding what is called, “your voice.”
Your voice is the tone in which you write. It encompasses what you know, the things you have learned, your life experiences, and your personal opinions. All these attributes form one’s voice. If you look deep into a work you can tell the author by their writing; Even if it is different articles, books, or blogs. There is just something about each work that ties them together; the language, the cadence, the subject matter, all work harmoniously to define an author.
The good thing is that you don’t have to study about your voice, you already have it. And it belongs to you alone. No one else will share your voice. They may have similar experiences that you do, but only you have “your voice.”
What to Do
Next, you need to decide how you want to write. For me, most of my writing is ghostwriting. This blog for Isabella Media is one of the first jobs where I was given a byline. I also have a personal blog, but that is not a paid gig, so I don’t count that as a job. However, it is a means to get my name out there, and it reflects my voice even more than an assigned article would.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming you are going to get the big job right off the bat, remember the story of my cousin? We have talked about paying your dues. Unless you have some serious connections, you will most likely begin as a ghostwriter. BUT, as I will explain in a moment, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
A Freelance Writer is a writer who is self-employed. They are not tied to any particular company or publication. Most of their work is assignment based (I’ll get into that in a moment) and temporary, sometimes for only one job for a client. Other times it can be for a longer term, much like this blog. I have written for Isabella Media since September of 2017. Isabella Media is one of my long-term clients. I have two others that I write for, and between the three I am always writing something.
A Ghostwriter is a Freelance Writer that does his work for someone else. Once an assignment is complete and submitted, you give up all rights to credit or future personal use. This can be a turn off for some writers. It was, and still is to a point, with me. We, as writers, take a lot of pride in the hard work we put into our pieces. Letting someone else take credit for it seems ludicrous. But look at it this way; you still get paid for the work you do. Now, I would not take the novel I am writing now and submit it as a ghostwriter. But the research articles I write, I am willing to give those up. I get paid, and it builds my experience, until the day I can get from under the umbrella of ghostwriting.
A Blogger usually writes for themselves. The writing they usually do is non-paid and, in most cases, begins as a hobby or even promoting a small business. I am slowly working my writing career and my blog into one entity. The good thing about blogging is that you do not have limits on what you can write about. Although, if you are trying to do something specific with your writing, it would be wise for your blog to revolve around that subject.
Where to Find Jobs
Okay, now to the meat and potatoes. Where do you find work?
There are many websites out there that can help a freelancer begin their career. The ones I am about to tell you about are ones I have dealt with directly. By no means is this the only way, or the correct way, it is one of many. I’m just telling you what worked and didn’t work, for me.
I was clueless when I started writing, but I wanted to write. The first mistake I made was that I was turning things down right and left because I could not get over not having my name attached to it. Let’s be honest, we all want our name in the spotlight. We all want accolades and recognition for our hard work. I was no different. After a couple of months, probably longer, of spinning my wheels I gave in and took my first assignment.
TextBroker and iWriter are definitely for beginners. It is easy to get an assignment on either site. You do have to register an account, but both are free sites. After you register, you are labeled a beginner. You select jobs from the beginner categories that interest you; then you choose the job you want to write then begin writing. Once submitted the client can accept, ask for a revision, or decline your article.
Each job has a time limit, usually a few hours for a 200-300-word article. This is useful experience if you have never dealt with a time limit before. As you complete assignments and your client rates your work, you move up the scale and are given the ability to write articles on the higher scales.
The drawback is that you are paid very little at the beginning. These are the $2 and $3 research articles I have mentioned before. These are also ghostwriting jobs. You, however, have the choice about what you write about. You select from a list of categories, then choose the individual job you want. The pay increases as you move up the scale.
UpWork is more advanced. It follows the same general idea in that you can select from a list of jobs. Unlike the previous two, you are not guaranteed the job you bid for. It is much harder to land a job, especially as a beginner, but that’s not saying it cannot be done. Experience comes in handy when you apply for work on this platform.
With UpWork you also build a profile, only this is more extensive. Your profile is your resume to for clients to view. You can include samples that show clients your previous work, select how much you want to be paid, and even take tests to improve skills and have your results put on your profile. The more you write and get positive reviews, the more work you will get. Even to the point where the work will come to you.
The pay is much better on UpWork. But with better pay, the clients expect experience. The jobs you bid on will usually have a stipulated rate of pay. However, you can also negotiate the rate with the client if they are willing. Keep in mind, the higher your rate is over the other options the client has, the less likely you are to get the job. So, don’t oversell yourself, but at the same time don’t sell yourself short.
Other platforms you can research are Job boards such as Freedom with Writing and Litworth. Freedom with Writing is a notification site that updates you on magazines and contests that are accepting entries. Litworth shows you different sites that accept freelance work, how they pay, and some of the publication’s submission guidelines.
Final Thoughts: What to be Aware Of
All publications will have Submission Guidelines. These are sets of rules that they expect you to follow. Rules such as word count, style to be written, and deadlines. Not following just one of the guidelines set out will surely get a rejection, so be sure your submission follows them to a tee.
Become familiar with the publication you want to write for. This especially applies to magazines and literary journals where you submit your work. Don’t submit just because you can. Read a couple of issues, see what they have approved and mold your submission to that style.
Most of all, be aware of scammers. These people are all over job sites. They make you promises of excellent pay, notoriety, and future work. The only thing they require is one “test jobs” to see if you are what they are looking for. Then you complete the task, submit it to them, then they disappear. You are left with hours of work and nothing to show for it.
It is easy to spot a scammer once you know what to look for. First, never agree to free work or a test job. You can do a test job, just make sure it pays. Second, stay on the platform where you get the job. On UpWork all the payments are handled through the site. The client funds the job before you begin. That guarantees your payment is there when the client accepts your submission. If a client asks you to go off the platform like to start communicating with Skype, run away. Finally, do the math. If a client is asking for a 1000-word article for $5, understand that is $0.005. Yes, half a penny. Always consider how long it will take you to write by determining how much research you will have to do. That will help you decide how much that job is worth. However, those and are easier to get because everyone else is passing them up. Taking them will help build experience and you need that to help you land the larger jobs.
Remember, just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Your hard work will pay off. Find what works for you and stick with it. As your experience grows, you will be hired more, and make the money that comes with writing successfully.