In these trying economic times, general-interest and trade publications have cut back on their writing staffs. Further, corporations, organizations, schools, and hospitals have reduced their publication and public relations’ staffs.
Greater opportunities have opened up for freelancers with feature and news writing interests.
Freelancers have always complained that good paying consumer publication markets are hard to crack, because they receive so many queries and submissions.
If you focus on other markets, however, even as a relative beginner, you can get the ball rolling for regular freelance writing work.
One good way for beginning writers to tap into regular writing assignments is to first write features for a local newspaper about local schools or organizations. The latter often end up giving you freelance assignments, as they appreciate what you’ve done for them.
For example, if you write a feature about an adult education program at your local community college for your local paper, this could land you a freelance writing job for the college’s public relations office. This happened to me.
Further, after I wrote a feature about an area hospital’s community exercise program for the local paper, the hospital gave me some freelance assignments for their in-house magazine.
Organizations are always very grateful for your newspaper articles about them, as they receive valuable exposure with the public. And, they recognize that you are competent at what you do and that you are easy to work with.
There’s the added benefit, that once you get to know them as a freelancer, they could even offer you a staff position somewhere down the road in better economic times.
Companies, schools, hospitals, and other organizations usually pay more for a piece than a local newspaper would.
Companies can use freelancers to produce press releases, business letters, brochures, advertising text, product information packets, sales letters, company newsletters, and reports.
Because of the many types of writing companies need, the freelance work can be steady.
Writing for trade publications is often steady, too. There has always been a demand for freelancers of trade publications. And with large trade publications, pay is more than that of large general-interest publications like newspapers and consumer magazines.
Trade publications tend to be more open to working with beginners, as this work isn’t always considered popular and glamorous with freelancers.
Check out “Standard Periodical Directory” at your library where you’ll learn of all sorts of trade publications for many industries you may never have considered.
What about the food service industry? You could write for a trade publication dealing with food service provided by schools.
You could even write for a trade publication that is published for coffee retailers.
Publications such as those about the animal feeds industry don’t always get a lot of attention by freelancers. They are often willing to work with beginning writers.
Look for trade publications that pay well for articles and that also pay for photos. Investigate whether they pay upon acceptance or within a couple of months of acceptance. You don’t want to wait an unusually long time for payment.
With technical types of writing, it’s important to do some research about the field and be willing to pose a lot of questions to the interviewee-experts. You must be the type of person who is attentive to detail, and have the patience to learn about a technical field.
Further, if you are writing for a general-interest audience about a technical topic, you must be especially attentive to writing clearly and explaining things simply.
Overall, freelance writing is about building contacts to get writing assignments. It takes patience, but it allows you the chance to maintain your own work schedule, and of course, to work from home.
For help in basic journalistic writing, check out my book, “Beginners’ Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features,” at your library.
Copyright 2011 by Charlotte Digregorio.