Friday, March 30, 2007

Lisa: Freelance Writer

Although freelance writing is a little outside the original scope of my blog, it's still something that many people interested in publishing aspire to do--myself included. Here is an interview with a freelance writer with connections to the local publishing scene.

1. What is your primary freelance specialty?
Nonfiction writing for magazines and newspapers; marketing/public relations assistance for small businesses and nonprofit organizations; public speaking on image-building and communications topics

2. How many years have you been a freelancer?
I've been a freelance writer/marketing consultant for three years. I do some copyediting, too.

3. How long did you work "in house" before going freelance?
Two years at a marketing agency, two years in a nonprofit organization's marketing department/on its magazine staff

4. Why did you decide to become a freelancer?
Odd twist of fate above all things. In short, I was unhappy in my position, was preparing to go to graduate school so thought I'd give freelancing a try, and then I never got to graduate school because I liked freelancing!

5. How many projects do you do in a year?
I probably write 60+ articles a year at this point.

6. How many hours per week do you work, on average?

7. How do you go about finding work?
Word of mouth is a wonderful tool for finding work! Also, I write for a niche industry, and I've found that if I want to approach a different magazine in the industry, the editor already knows who I am, so finding work is that much easier. I also do a handful of cold-querying, with varying results.

8. What is the best thing about freelancing?
As a freelancer, I am able to set my own schedule, accept the projects I want to work on, and work from the comforts of my home office. I don't do well with constraints, so the freedom freelancing offers is difficult for me to give up. Even when I go through phases where I think I want a "real job," I am quickly snapped back to reality when I consider I would have to set an alarm every day.

9. What is the biggest drawback of freelancing?
It would be nice if checks came more consistently. Also, I get overly ambitious and tend to schedule too much at once, which leads to late nights and much stress.

10. What are your favorite websites for freelancers?

11. What advice would you give to aspiring freelancers?
It takes time to build your client base, but don't give up too easily. There are a ridiculous number of people trying to make it in this business, and if you don't have faith in what you're doing, you won't last!

12. How is the pay?
Pay for writers depends on the market. Once you are established, set your own rate, and refuse to work for less than that. It will make you want to cry some days, like when you turn down really low-paying work during a slow week, but you'll never make the money you want if you work for pennies. This is still a lesson I remind myself of from time to time.

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