If you’re just beginning or expanding your freelance writing career, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the print and online resources out there. The quality and accuracy of the information varies widely. You may wonder how you’ll have time to actually do any freelance writing if you have to weed through so much material.
The good news is, you don’t have to weed through all of the books, magazines, and online articles about freelance writing. (It’s probably not humanly possible, anyway, so save yourself the headache.) I’ve learned that the best approach is to locate a few top-notch resources and revisit them as needed.
Below is a short list of the books and websites I’ve found most helpful for freelance writing. You’ll get encouragement, but no hand-holding, no sugarcoating, and no unrealistic promises. These freelance writing resources are all about debunking myths and providing information you can really use.
Book: The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success, 2nd Edition,
Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell. Blog: http://www.TheRenegadeWriter.com
The central concept of this book is: succeed in the world of freelance writing by breaking the rules. Whether you’re a beginner hoping to snag your first published clip or a more experienced writer who’s looking for a fresh approach, The Renegade Writer will clear up many of the freelance writing issues you may be fretting over. After you’ve read the book, visit the blog to ask questions, post comments, and read interviews with experts.
The tone is funny and upbeat-sweet relief from all of those dull books you’ve been forcing yourself to read. But don’t let the authors’ friendliness fool you. They aren’t suggesting that freelance writing success is easy, or that you should expect to make six figures in your first year. They’re out to encourage you by arming you with the information you need-and that may include the stuff you don’t want to hear.
For the most part, the advice is refreshing-and surprising. Discouraged by all of the strict guidelines you think you have to observe? Here are some of the freelance writing rules which Formichelli and Burrell urge you to break: Always include an SASE with your query. Never call an editor. Keep query letters to one page. The authors’ “renegade” philosophy springs from their own experience. They broke into high-paying magazines such as Family Circle, Fitness, and Parenting only when they began to ignore the myths they’d been fed about freelance writing.
You’re already here, reading this article on freelance writing, right? If you’re a content producer, you’ve probably viewed a host of helpful articles by other content producers about writing for AC. Keep in mind that many AC content producers also write for other venues: print publications, websites, businesses, blogs, etc. Search AC with the keywords “freelance writing,” and you’ll find a wealth of articles. Most offer suggestions on additional freelance writing resources. Don’t forget to check out links to personal websites, which are featured on content producers’ profiles. (Unfamiliar with AC? Click on the producer’s name to reach his or her profile and complete list of AC articles.)
Why read AC articles about freelance writing? AC content producers offer real-world information in a concise, accessible format. That’s what writing for the Web is all about. You can find a goldmine of advice on freelance writing in an article that’s around 1000 words.
Books: The Well-Fed Writer and The Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds, Peter Bowerman. Website: http://www.WellFedWriter.com
At first glance, Peter Bowerman might seem like just another freelance writing guru, luring you in with visions of a spectacular income. Well, he is a commercial writer with a background in marketing, not a magazine writer. Let’s just say that the guy really knows how to sell. I should know: The Well-Fed Writer is one of the books which inspired me to start my own freelance writing and editing business. Its sequel, Back for Seconds, convinced me that I could build my own website, among other minor miracles.
Both books focus on commercial freelance writing (business, corporate, marketing, etc.), which isn’t what I do. Still, both offered plenty of information that I could put to use in other specialties, including freelance writing for magazines. Like the authors of The Renegade Writer, Bowerman cheers you on in an engaging, conversational style, but he also urges you to be realistic in your goals.
If you’re interested in commercial freelance writing, I’d advise buying both books. If you’re primarily interested in freelance writing for magazines, Back for Seconds should suffice. It summarizes The Well-Fed Writer‘s contents, then answers questions and passes along success stories from readers of the first book. Bowerman provides solid, no-nonsense advice which should be of value to virtually any professional writer.
Do you dream of seeing your freelance writing in the “big” magazines? Visit mediabistro.com-and be prepared to break out the credit card. Although a good deal of the information presented here can be browsed for free, you’ll have to pay a $49 fee for an AvantGuild membership if you want to access all of the site’s content.
One feature which makes the membership fee a bargain is the “How to Pitch” series of articles. Each “How to Pitch” gives you the inside scoop on what a particular magazine is looking for and tells you exactly how to approach the editors. These articles are far more detailed than the submission guidelines you’ll find on other freelance writing websites and in books like Writer’s Market. The AvantGuild membership also includes other goodies designed to further your freelance writing career, such as a Personal Home Page which displays your credentials and published clips.
Be aware that mediabistro.com is not for the faint of heart. The tone of its content tends to be blunt, sometimes even snide. However, if you’re serious about breaking into the “glossies” or landing a high-paying freelance writing project, mediabistro.com is an essential resource. My advice: for positive reinforcement, have a copy of The Renegade Writer and a handful of your favorite Associated Content articles on freelance writing nearby! Whatever you may think of the attitude, don’t ignore the treasure trove of real-world information on mediabistro.com.