Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Will Write For Chocolate

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Wednesday
Jan112006

Do you have what it takes to become a freelance writer?

For some, becoming a fulltime freelance writer is a glamorous-sounding goal, with visions of glorious days of doing nothing but writing. Ah, and the luxury of working at home!

However, as I mentioned in last week's strip, the joys of no boss looking over your shoulder and being able to set your own hours come with a price.

Before quitting your job and embracing the world of fulltime freelance writer, ask yourself the following:

1. Do you have self-discipline? It's great having no one checking up on you, but that means you need to resist the lure of distractions and opportunities to procrastinate. Not everyone can do this. To make a living, freelancers need to know how to use their time efficiently.

2. Do you have self-marketing and research skills? Very few beginning freelance writers can count on work landing in their lap regularly. You need to be able to convince editors to buy your writing or find clients yourself, depending on the type of writing you're doing. Unless you're lucky enough to find some regular paying gigs, you'll be spending a substantial part of your time looking for work.

3. Does your spouse or partner support your goal? Without that support, things are going to be a LOT tougher.

4. Do you need financial security? If you're supporting yourself, you'll feel more pressure to find enough work to pay the bills on time. Writing is not a financially secure career for most freelancers. Publications can shut down without warning, editors move to other magazines or leave the business. About.com has a helpful article about creating a business plan for your writing career, whether or not you plan to freelance full-time.

There are a lot more factors that should go into your decision, of course, but the questions above should help get you started. I'll be addressing some of these topics in more detail in future Will Write For Chocolate columns.

Some useful online sources of information:



Writing-World.com: Moira Allen's great online resource of information for freelance writers, beginning and advanced.

The Freelance Writing FAQ: frequently asked questions about freelance writing, answered by Marcia Yudkin.

How to Become a Successful Freelance Writer: by Bob Brooke.

How To Become a Professional Writer: from eHow.

Any other useful advice or useful resources for hopeful freelance writers? Please post your suggestions in the comments area.

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (2)

I remember the day when I plunged into full-time freelancing without even asking myself these questions. It happened so fast and now it has been a year and I am doing just fine.

July 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Hi Debbie,

Your absolutely right, Becoming a freelancer certainly isn't easy and finding work is very tough nowadays, it was much easier 5 years ago...I have found the best method is to work really hard for a month and then live off the money whilst I find work for the following month. I wrote a article on getting started as a freelancer writer recently, i think it will be pretty helpful to everyone here so i have posted it above =)

All the best

Spike

May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

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