Career Profile: How To Start Freelance Writing

Writing...Some people love it and everybody else hates it. Writing is one of those professions where, unless you love doing it, you really shouldn’t be in it. Your heart absolutely has to be in it, because as a freelance writer it isn’t necessarily a money-maker when you first start out.

How I Got Started​

I first got started writing for my school newspapers, barely making the cut to be published in each issue. At the time, I never really gave writing a chance as a career because it was more of just a hobby of mine. When I was in high-school, I was actually recognized for being a good writer, winning a couple of those essay-contests and winning some awards I can’t even remember today. It was the community around me that got me to think that writing could actually become my career.

While still in high school, a good friend of mine brought his dad on a trip we took together. His dad and I had a conversation for hours just about his job and what he did for a living. He was an editor for a popular section of the local newspaper in San Diego. That conversation was a wake-up call for me and pushed me down the writing career path.

I truly felt my journey as a writer started in college. A week before classes started, I received a call from the editor of the “City” section of The Daily Aztec, the student-run newspaper at San Diego State University, asking if I wanted to write for them for the fall semester. I immediately said yes.

I became a contributor for them, but that only lasted a semester as they politely gave me the “Thanks, but no thanks” speech. Hurdle #2 came a year later when I couldn’t pass a required exam to move forward with my degree in Journalism.

Because I couldn’t pass it within the three attempts they allowed, I had to change my major to English. It was a completely different route, as it was mainly writing papers on all kinds of literature and analyzing different stories, and reading countless novels I wasn’t in the least bit interested in. I still got to write, but it wasn’t my style. I still graduated though, but I knew I had to be creative with what I was going to do next in my career.

Enter Blogging

Blogs were my ticket back into writing about things I liked. It was a way to be exposed and to showcase my writing to the rest of the world. The beauty about blogs is that it is a complete space for you. It’s like your own little world of thoughts that anybody can look in and read, or not read.

I created a blog on WordPress. It was awesome.  I began writing  once a week about things that either just came to me, or about certain situations that typically arise in one’s life. I created that space for me to write about the issues we face in life, our struggles, always trying to put a positive spin on it, and give out some hope for somebody was is really down on life.

A few months later, a social blogging site called reached out to me (on Instagram) and asked if I wanted to start writing for them on their site.

That’s pretty typical with freelance-writers, when one opportunity leads them to the next with more exposure and support around them.

With exposure comes the building of your profile of published work, almost like turning into a resume for your next gig.

Interested In Freelance Writing? Here Are My Tips.

Be Prepared To Work

Like I said earlier, freelance writing doesn’t necessarily come with a big paycheck all of the time, but it’s definitely worth a shot if you love to write. Being a freelance-writer can be the best job in the world, but it can only be a pretty daunting, lonely place too when you’ve got a case of writer’s block.

Writing is a craft, a skill that only gets better with practice as you are exposed to other writers and other styles. But conditions have certainly improved since the days of traditional reporting and novel writing.

And also be prepared to get another job to pay your bills. I don’t know a writer that doesn’t have a second job. If you’re a writer, you’ll understand and won’t mind working a second job until you can get a consistent stream of writing gigs to support yourself full time.

How To Get Noticed

Creating your own blogs, writing copy, even writing a book are all great ways to not only practice your craft, but to also get noticed and create for yourself a fanbase. We have countless amount of “friends”, or followers both in person and online.

You don’t have to have so many “likes”, or hits, but the important thing is that you’re exposed to all of them. I also often let my fellow writers and followers to guest-write on my blogs, giving them an opportunity to express themselves and to get a fresh perspective on things. I’ve also learned that listening to your fans gets them even more interested in what you write as well.

Caution: 100% Effort Required

I always believed that being a freelance writer is like social media, you only get back what you put into it. If you dedicate yourself to your craft, you will get results. Putting 100% into all of your articles will give you the ticket to be successful, which is the job of a freelance writer. You really have to pick an article or something you love and enjoy learning about and write about something you’re going to put 100% effort into.

If you truly love your job as a freelance writer, that should be the easiest part of the job.

The tougher part is actually having the guts to send it to the people you know, sometimes even the people you don’t know.

That includes the local newspapers, or the local news websites nowadays and build relationships with the people who have the power to publish your stuff.

Where Can It Lead To?

Freelance writing can bring many different opportunities and experiences along with the job. While starting out at the very bottom, it may not look promising when you don’t have anybody looking at your stuff, but talent and hard work is what really makes you earn it.

Anybody can be published on the front page of The Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. You’re also more than capable of being a featured writer on any popular website.

But the bottom line is, just like with every other profession, you have to earn it. Talent comes with hard work and time. Every publisher you write for will make you earn it. Then once you make a name and reputation for yourself, that’s when you start relishing the rewards.

Some Final Tidbits of Advice

The best advice for somebody who’s interested in becoming a freelance writer: start writing today.

There are all kinds of websites to help you get started. Create a blog too. It’s super easy, and having your very own space for your very own writing will get you thinking. Also, I recommend having something else, like a word document for instance, to have your own space for only you.

It could be a place for you to get out your ideas, or even a place you can refer back to later on when you’re have writer’s block or facing a challenge of some sort.

Even though I’m fairly young and just getting my career started in freelance writing, I still enjoy it. I’ve been down in the dumps and sky high, and everywhere in between with my work, but I wouldn’t trade my profession for anything else in the world.

There’s nothing like looking in a newspaper, a website, or even a magazine see your name next to a column or a piece of writing that others are reading.

No matter what happens in the future or happened in the past, nobody can take that piece of published work away from you. That’s the true reward.

About the author

Chris Arechaederra

Chris is a writer from San Diego, California who hopes to make a difference in this world. Love is a constant theme he lives by every day and he tries to spread it to whoever he can. He's a writer at heart who's grateful for the opportunity to have been published in newspapers, magazines, journals, and of course, the Internet. He's working on a fictional novel that's due out in summer 2015. When not writing, he enjoys reading, relaxing, and traveling to every corner of the world he can get to. You can find more writing from Chris on Glipho and his personal blog.

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