5 Places to Look for Freelance Writing Opportunities

By Katie Sluiter

So you’ve decided you want your writing to earn you some money. But where do you start?  How do you find something that will pay? A good rule of thumb is to start with what you already read and branch out from there.

Local Publications

Poke around your local paper’s website for the name of the submission editor.  Years ago I submitted a piece on celebrity baby names to my local paper and was unexpectedly hired as a freelancer for their print paper.  But local publications aren’t limited to newspapers.  There are probably many local publications—newletters, magazines, blogs, etc.—that you don’t know about yet because you haven’t looked.  You may have the edge over another writer, because you are familiar with the local beat.

Online Magazines

These are generally bigger and get many submissions, but they are worth a shot. Babble, Curvy Girl Guide, AllParenting.com, etc. are some that usually offer open submissions.  Places like BlogHer takes submissions for syndication (which pays) and will often highlight work (which sends your site pageviews) Somewhere on the site you want to work with will be a “careers” or “submissions” link/button.  There you will find guidelines and pay information.  Watch social media as well, Babble, for instance, will tweet when they are looking for new writers for a specific section or column on their site.

Print Magazines

Some Large scale print magazines will run essay contests and hold open submissions for articles.  Watch for reputable, well-advertised contests, not the hidden ones in the backs of the magazines.   Real Simple holds an annual essay contest that is legitimate, for instance, and gets the writer published in the magazine and a cash prize.  Trade and scholarly journals will also have a section in the front of the magazine for calls for articles.  The English Journal, for instance, has a space devoted to what themes and subjects it is looking for to publish in future editions.

The Google

It probably sounds obvious, but searching Google for writing opportunities will bring up various communities/groups you can join.  Some come with a membership fee, some are private and you need to apply, but some are open to anyone.  For example, Linkedin has a group you can apply to be in that posts paid writing opportunities and lists companies looking for freelance writers.

Company Websites

Corporations like Best Buy have programs where they hire bloggers to do their product reviews FOR them.  You join their network and receive the latest products and gadgets to use and review.  The catch is that you need to have your own blog to work with some companies as they do not have a review site.

It is undoubtedly overwhelming for the beginning freelancer to know where to look, but remember: The opportunities are out there.  You just have to go find them.

Katie Sluiter is a freelance writer and teacher who should probably be grading papers or changing diapers but is more likely blogging, tweeting, or just overusing social media in general. She chronicles all this on her blog, Sluiter Nation.

 

Image credit: ba1969

Business Writing for Beginners: 5 Types of Business Writing You Need to Master

By Sherri Ledbetter

Business writing. When I was a fledgling writer, the term business writing was new and scary to me. BUSINESS. Business was important; business was BIG right? I wondered, what is business writing anyway?

In general, most writing for business is geared toward informing and persuading the customer. For non-profits, it may mean writing in a compelling way to obtain donations or funding.

The main goal in business writing is to get the message across in a clear, accurate and simple manner. Below you’ll find 5 types of business writing you need to master as a freelance writer in this niche.

1. Website Content: Trading Paper for Bullets

The hottest form of writing is for company websites and blogs. Web writing often includes the additional requirement of establishing a good rapport with your online audience. Web writing is more casual, with a more relaxed language and attitude.

Because computer screens are harder to read than printed paper, it’s a good idea to…

  • Break paragraphs into chunks; 3 to 4 sentences at the most.
  • If you have a series of items, use bullet points to save readers’ time.
  • Boldface important words and phrases so readers can quickly see key points.

2. Press Releases: What’s the Company Up To?

Press releases, sometimes called news releases, are written to inform the news media of a company’s new product or service, award, promotion or other recent event. The goal is to attract media attention and generate publicity.

3. Technical writing: No Jargon Please.

Technical writing requires communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Medical procedures
  • Environmental regulations

Technical writers provide detailed, how-to instructions. Examples of technical documents include: user guides, installation guides, tutorials and E-learning modules.

4. Grant Writing: Show Me the (Free) Money.

Structure, attention to detail, concise persuasive writing, and the ability to follow guidelines are skills needed as a grant writer. Grant writing involves writing proposals or completing applications in order to apply for funds. Companies requiring grant writing skills include non-profits and educational institutions.

5. Commercial White Papers: My Stuff is Better Than Their Stuff.

Commercial white papers are marketing documents written to emphasize the benefits of a particular product, technology or method. The goal is to convince the customer that the company’s product is the best choice. Commercial white papers are often used to generate sales leads and educate customers. The three main types of commercial white papers are:

  • Business Benefits: Stating a case for a certain technology or methodology.
  • Technical: Describing in detail how a certain technology works.
  • Hybrid: Combining the two types above in a single document.

These five types of business writing are just the tip of the iceberg. How about speech writing, game writing, resume writing or book reviews? The list goes on and on. Which type of business writing do you think you would enjoy doing the most?

Sherri Ledbetter is an Oklahoma freelance writer, editor and food blogger. Visit her online at Sherri Ledbetter Writes    

5 Tips for Overcoming Your Freelance Writing Insecurities

By Marie Lapointe
You’re in the midst of or planning a major switch and want to become a freelance writer but you’re riddled with fear. You’re not the only one. Career change. That’s a scary title Stephen King never thought of!

It’s a frightening move and transitions are never easy. In order to deal with these monsters of self-destruction let’s pinpoint their source:

1: Is my writing good enough?

Tip: Write daily.

The only way to be good at something – anything – is to go out there and do it. A lot. Not a day went by where Tiger Woods didn’t hit at least 1,000 balls in order to become Tiger Woods.

Start a blog, join online writing communities, and comment on other blogs. Slowly comments will start trickling in. Blogging will give you plenty of practice and amazing feedback. It will also give you a sense of what people want to read. Internet users are fickle; some posts will draw in hundreds of hits and comments where others will leave you listening to the crickets. As you’re posting frequency increases – your stats will give you valuable information.

2: I’m not as good as they are.

Tip: Don’t compare yourself.

This is especially true when you’re left with feelings of inferiority. Use others’ articles to bring you up, not down and be inspired by them. What kind of writing draws you in? What do you like about it? Without replicating, allow it to influence your own voice and style.

3: How will I ever pay my bills?

Tip: Plan ahead – before quitting your day job, do what you can to clear your debts and reduce your living expenses.

Most people live above their means. Don’t be one of them. If you’re like me that means you don’t have rich parents or a willing spouse earning a 6-digit income to support your dream. Start by making a list of your biggest expenses and set a budget with clear strategies on how to reduce-reduce-reduce. Move to a smaller apartment, sell the new car and buy a cheaper used model or better yet take the bus!

4: Who will hire me?

Tip: Start small – do volunteer work.

Join an organization that matters to you like the Humane Society or the YMCA. Offer your services and submit articles. Chances are they’re so overwhelmed with their workload they’ll welcome you with open arms. This will provide published work content for your portfolio.

Any career specialist will tell you the key to finding a job is to have a job. Employers would rather snag an employee from the competition than hire somebody who’s unemployed.

5: I’m not even getting paid, how can I call myself a freelance writer?

Tip: Say to yourself daily, “I am a writer.”

Don’t wait for your first paycheck (it will come). The more you repeat those four words, the more you will believe it and ultimately believe in yourself.

 

Marie Lapointe is an ex-race car mechanic and now lives and travels on a boat with her best friend Leo. This quirky writer dreams of running away with the circus and has been writing about her vida loca since 2010 on my cyber house rules.  

3 Reasons Freelance Writers Need to Understand SEO

By Eric Storch

If you own a website, understanding search engine optimization (SEO) is an important factor in driving traffic to your site. As a freelance writer, it’s also important for you to understand it and be able to use it well. SEO is what search engines look for when scanning the internet in order to provide a list of the most relevant websites to the searcher. Having good SEO for your site will place it higher on a search engine results page (SERP).

Small companies may not have an SEO specialist

When a company doesn’t have an SEO team or just doesn’t have the money to spend on a specialist, they are going to look to the writer to provide SEO for their site. You will need to know all you can about SEO in order to make yourself more marketable. Companies will hire freelance writers with SEO experience over those who don’t. There is a wealth of information on SEO to be found on the internet and a simple search will get you started on what you need to know.

SEO is connected to content

Since the majority of SEO is content related, it can be a simple thing for the writer to provide SEO in an article. In most cases, the company is looking for certain keywords to be placed within an article and some companies may even require a certain percentage of words in the article to be keywords. Companies and SEO experts both agree though, that content should always come before SEO. SEO may bring a reader to your site once, but good content keeps them coming back.

Being ignorant of the rules of SEO is no excuse

Search engines don’t like scraping or plagiarism and when it’s detected, it can hurt a website’s showing on a SERP. It should go without saying, but original content is preferred, both by companies and search engines.

Does a freelance writer have to understand SEO? The short answer is no. You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least have a grasp of the basics, though. Companies will love you if you can do your own SEO work, and the knowledge will give you a better chance of getting repeat business.

Eric Storch is a freelance writer based in New Hampshire where he runs Studio30 Plus, a social media website for writers. His fiction is featured on his blog, Sinistral Scribblings, including his web serial, “The Linden Tree.”  

5 Tips for Writing Book Reviews as a Freelance Writer

By Elisabeth Kauffman

If you have a love for reading and enjoy expressing your opinions about the books you read, writing book reviews can be a great way to build your portfolio as a freelance writer. Here are 5 tips if you’re considering giving book reviews a try.

Try small local publications first.

You’re going to need a place to publish your reviews. Your local newspaper may be willing to print your review for you. If they don’t have a book review section, start one! Not every place you turn to will be ready to pay you for book reviews, but even without pay you’ll be adding by-lines to your portfolio, and will build professional relationships in the process. When you’ve exhausted those avenues then try Writer’s Market and Literary Marketplace for places to publish your reviews.

Timeliness is important.

Make sure you stay current with the literary trends. Review books that have just been published or that are being released soon. In order for your review to have the greatest possible impact, make sure to publish it within 2 weeks to 2 months of a book’s release. If you wait too long, you’ll risk not having enough reader interest to make your review relevant. You can often write to the publisher to request an advance copy of a book if you let them know you are planning to review it.

Be thorough.

Read the entire book, don’t just skim it. This should go without saying, but some people like to cut corners. Don’t be that person. If you feel the need to skim, ask yourself why? There could be a reason you’re not enjoying the process.

Play to your strengths.

Romance, mystery, dark fantasy—pick a genre you enjoy and become an expert. There’s no reason you should limit yourself, but if you read all of Orson Scott Card’s Ender books as a child and love them dearly, there’s a chance you may enjoy sci-fi. Why not spend time reading and writing about the things you love? That said, be prepared not to love every book you review.

Honesty is the best policy.

If you loved the book, say so. If you didn’t love it, again, say so. Every writer wants a positive review, but if you read a book and you have a negative reaction, be forthright about it.  Your readers will appreciate your honest opinion in the long run. If you write a negative review back up your opinion with solid examples in the text. You’ll build credibility this way.

Review writing can be an enjoyable experience, or an overwhelming one. Set your boundaries and expectations clearly. Remember, your time is valuable. When people begin regularly soliciting your reviews, it may be time to consider raising your rates!

Elisabeth Kauffman is a freelance writer and editor in Connecticut. She blogs about writing and Young Adult fiction at Fairbetty’s World. When her nose is not in a book she likes hiking with her awesome dog, Tag.    

Photo Credit: pear83

Top 5 Freelance Writing Contract Sites

By Laura Castonguay

When it comes to finding a job on the Internet, there are hundreds of sites that gather data about possible jobs and make listings available for the prospective job seeker. But what if you are a freelance writer and you aren’t looking for one job, but for a hub of consistent contract work?

Listed below are five contract websites ranked in terms of benefit to a freelance writer. Not only do all of the sites allow a writer to create a profile, download a portfolio, search for specific contracts and then bid on jobs, they provide a network that encourages professionalism for both freelance writers and employers.

1. oDesk

By far the site with the most benefits to a freelance writer, oDesk offers free membership with no option for costly membership packages. This maintains that all freelancers have equal opportunity for jobs. In addition to a user-friendly profile, they offer hundreds of free skills tests to allow employers to view your abilities, thousands of contract jobs, employer endorsement ratings, and a dispute assistance guarantee. Though oDesk’s 10% commission fee is higher than some of the other sites, it seems the benefits far outweigh the administrative cost.

2. Elance

With a simple, easy-to-use interface and a free sign-up option, Elance ranks second only because of its $10/month option. While the site claims a paying member is twice as likely to score a job, this may account for the allowance to apply to twice as many jobs. The free option isn’t a dud though – it includes free skills tests, a profile that allows up to 5 portfolio pieces, and a lower commission rate than oDesk at 8.75%. Limit for free membership: 15 clients/month.

3. Freelancer (a.k.a. Getafreelancer)

Though this site boasts a wide array of membership packages ranging from $4.95 to $49.95/month, it does offer a free membership. The basic plan includes a healthy dose of perks including: up to 10 bids/month, 20 free skill tests and 5 portfolio entries. Like oDesk, it takes a 10% service fee. The reason it beat out Guru for 3rd place… Prize Competitions.

4. Guru

While providing a free user-friendly interface, the site charges a whopping $4.95 for each skills test. Though it maintains the same options as the other sites, paying to show off your skills to potential employers doesn’t seem like a benefit – especially when the commission fee is as high as 11.95%. Signing up for membership packages can decrease the fee by 2% and if you’re willing to pay, Guru will make sure it puts you ahead of your competition.

5. PeoplePerHour

Offering a free membership and most of the other benefits of the other contract sites, PeoplePerHour charges a fee for its skills tests and does not offer dispute assistance. The positive side: Service fees as low as 4.5%.

Laura Castonguay is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh. Her creative writing is featured on her blog FinallyWrite, where she delves into the intricacies of life and nature. When she’s not writing, she can be found on her porch, watching her garden grow.  

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