I wrote a feature article for Writer’s Digest this month, and it looks like it just hit the newsstands. I also received permission to include the full PDF here if you’re interested:
You can also read a brief online supplement on their site here.
I’ve thought about producing a guide about freelance writing, but the reality is that it’s really tough to make it as a freelancer these days. Until I find a way to stretch it out (no one wants to buy a one-page information product), here is the Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing:
1. Don’t do it the old way. You’ll starve!
2. Find a way to take control of the process. You’ll win!
But if you want more than that, here’s 2,000 words on making a living as a writer, free of charge.
It talks about why I write a newspaper column that no one reads, why I’ll syndicate to almost any outlet, and why I don’t care that CNN doesn’t pay me for the articles they post with my byline. More importantly, it offers guidance for new writers, or those who have been unsuccessful using conventional tactics.
I want to be clear that this piece is for writers who are interested in making some kind of income from their work. There’s nothing wrong with writing for any other reason–I write in a private journal every day, and some of my travel writing is entirely non-commercial.
But I also think it’s perfectly reasonable to want to earn a living as a writer, so that is the group I’m trying to help. For those people, the reality is that it is extremely difficult to support yourself as a successful freelancer by doing things the way they have always been done. That’s why you need to change things up and embrace a new model.
From what I can tell, it seems that some people are arguing about whether the new model is “better” or “worse” than the old one. Alas, this discussion is entirely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if something new is better or worse than something old; what matters is what you need to do to adapt to it.
I believe the phrase that best applies is “It is what it is.”
Therefore, if you want to work as a writer and don’t want to starve, you have to learn a few new tricks. The good news is that if you learn the new tricks, you can actually do quite well. More here.