Freelance Writing Myths Dispelled

I get a lot of comments and emails from people who simply don't believe they're good enough to work with the higher paying writing markets.

Here's a saying that's frequently mentioned on my favorite writing ezine:

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."-- Richard Bach

Even the big-time, highly paid writers had to start somewhere. Just like you and me, they started at the beginning, worked to improve their skills and aimed higher until they got where they were going.

Let's look at some frequently asked questions, myths and misconceptions about writing.

Myth: I need to start with revenue-share sites to 'get my feet wet'

Truth: No you don't. What you probably need to do is work on your own levels of confidence. Write to the best of your ability. Learn what your client or intended publication wants and write to their specifications. Read other articles that were accepted for publication and learn the difference between that writer's style and your own. Then submit some more.

Myth: I need a diploma or degree in writing to make a living from writing

Truth: No you don't. I do have a degree in Economics - but I don't have any formal education in freelance writing. Yet I manage to bring in a comfortable six figure income every year without problem. The main skill you need to earn a living from writing is the ability to write coherently and get your message across to anyone reading what you've written.

Myth: Writing online is easy money

Truth: If this was true then everyone would be doing it. The many comments and emails I receive from people begging to be pointed in the right direction tell me that many people are just after a quick, easy dollar without putting in the effort, discpline, time or patience involved in learning a skill that will expand and grow your career.

Of course there are many readers on this blog who actively work hard at doing the right things, submitting to writing markets and work hard to improve their skills. I'm referring to those people who want it all handed to them without going to any effort themselves.

After all, if I can search the internet and find the markets I'm pointing out to you, then obviously they weren't so difficult to find.

Myth: I can only aim at $2 per article jobs while I'm still learning

Truth: Your confidence in yourself and in your own ablities dictates the amount of money you will accept. Only you can determine what your time and effort is worth. If your own confidence levels tells you that you should bid $1 per article because that's all you're worth - then you've set your own income level and sealed your own fate.

Have the courage to ask for $10 per article or $20 or $75 or even $150 - and then be sure to over-deliver on what the client is expecting. Show them that more money equals better quality. You'll keep getting that amount of money.

Myth: Writing for online markets is easier than offline markets

Truth: Yes, the difference in writing style is substantially different for magazines and newspapers - but different is not the same thing as being any harder or any easier. Magazines and periodicals would go out of business very quickly if they didn't receive submissions from writers. They need your work in order to stay alive.

This means you should spend some time learning what type of writing style a particular magazine likes before you write even one word. Learn what that editor likes and then learn to modify your own writing style to suit.

While it's true that the style of writing preferred in most magazine is a lot more professional sounding than the conversational-type English we're all used to in online article writing, that makes it easier to get your information across.

Myth: Rejection means the editor hates me and everyone will laugh at me.

Truth: Of the several billion internet users online at any given time of any day, do you really think they're all going to come and personally laugh at you for having an article rejected? Are you really that self-absorbed?

Editors reject submissions that don't adhere to their guidelines. Editors reject submissions when they're overstocked. They reject other submissions just because they already bought something similar or they may reject others just because they've overspent their freelance budget that month.

ALL professional writers receive rejections. It's a normal, expected part of being a professional writer. If you allow a normal part of the writing business to deter you from ever submitting anything ever again, then you really don't want it badly enough.

So... if you've been busy visiting a lot of writing sites filled with newer writers who insist that working for $6 per year from a revenue-share site is a good bargain and that's all you can aspire to while you're learning, I strongly suggest you avoid those types of sites in future.

Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Have the courage and the pride to demand payment for what your work is really worth. Treat every writing job that is trusted to you with respect and gratitude and complete it to the best of your ability.

But most of all - write because you love it.


Morgan Drake Eckstein said...

Occasionally, when you are right on the cusp of getting it right, a rejection notice will actually tell you what you did wrong. For me, that is proof that editors do not hate writers when they reject items; after all, why give advice to someone you loathe?

Bianca Raven said...

Good comment Morgan! Editors really don't hate writers at all. They want writers to improve because it makes their job easier.

parsibagan said...

I am speechless. Thanks once again, Bianca, for the informative article. Watch out editors, here I come armed with a greater degree of confidence...


Maria said...

While I agree you don't need to start with revenue-sharing site, they CAN be lucrative as well as lead to further freelance gigs.

parsibagan said...

One of my articles was rejected recently. I felt very sad and desolate. When I found out the reason, I was stumped. The reason was not following the correct format. In my article the headline was `Selecting the best yet free audio software'. They wanted it like `Selecting the Best Yet Free Audio Software'.

My other mistake was submitting the article in `Garamond' type. I had not checked out their guidelines which specifically states that articles should be in either `12 point Times Roman' or `12 points `Arial', single spacing with double lines between paragraphs.

Have sent the article with necessary modifications and till not it has not yet been rejected.

Sometimes articles get rejected for trivial issues like this... especially when submitting to professional sites.

Bianca Raven said...

@ Maria - can you define 'lucrative'?

I fail to see how $1.50 per 1,000 page views can possibly add to up to anything worthwhile unless you're writing more than 100 articles per month.

If you're writing 100 articles per month to earn $1.50 that's hardly lucrative. You could have sold those articles at $10 each and made a quick $1,000 that could be spent (or saved) today, rather than using that same 100 articles to generate page views that have no guarantee of returning that much money on your time or effort.

Gayze said...

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."-- Richard Bach

One of the wisest men in recent decades. Okay, my "recent" may not exactly be someone else's "recent", but you know what I mean.