So you think you’re ready to trade in the business jacket/skirt and land of cubbies, for slippers, sweats and the comfort of your own home office?
Or are you just finally ready to follow that dream of writing while getting paid for it?
Although it’s always helpful to have worked in the communications field before branching out as a freelancer, it’s not a must. Would-be freelance writers without oodles of existing magazine clips, newsletter samples or blogging experience can get a foot in the door by following the same steps as experienced writers.
Working as a freelance writer has its good and bad side. The good has a lot to do with coffee shop Wi-Fi and casual “every days.” The bad has to do with utility bills and checking your email for the 254th time in 60 minutes.
A freelance writer has many options when it comes to finding a place to bid on jobs. (Or hire jobbers.) Through various online marketplaces you can easily join the millions of users who take advantage of third-party job sites to make a living online.
Think of them as online temp agencies. Clients post their job needs or vacancies and you answer by submitting resumes and work samples.
Writer’s write, but they also read. One of my favorite things to read (besides great fiction and “how to” books on writing) are fellow writer’s post on various forums across the web.
But I got tired of googling “writing forums” each time I wanted them and forget bookmarking. Seriously. If you could see what an utter mess my bookmarks are! (How-to-bake-winter-squash site mixed in with a Writer’s Digest link surrounded by three old bank login links that don’t even work anymore)
So I decided to get smart and copy my favorites onto a word document and keep it in my files.
I can hear you now, “A freelance writer marketing themselves? Can’t I just write?”
Of course you can. By all means write. Just don’t expect to sell anything. To sell your work you have to take the pencil out of your mouth and start talking. On the internet that’s pretty easy. In fact, put the pencil back in your mouth. To talk online you just need your hands.
In the high-tech world of the Internet there are often two ways to define something:
1. The geeky technical way: This is where I talk about all the cool, technological features , software platforms and updates, from version 0.00001 all the way to version 7.000098
2. The normal way: Where I tell you what something is and explain the benefits.
Focus: To let the recipient know that you received something from them, either a particular item you’d requested, or something unsolicited (like a gift), or even an intangible item like a recommendation, a referral, or an award.
Points to Include: In the introductory paragraph, state that you are writing this letter to acknowledge the recipient for providing the item, (gift, referral, whatever) and mention when you received it, like this: “I am writing to let you know that I received the book, “How to Write Effective Business Letters” on February 2, 2007.” In the main body of your letter, go into brief detail about why receiving the item was important to you: “As I mentioned at our last meeting, I am considering using this book as a textbook for my upcoming course on business correspondence.” The main body should have 3-4 good supporting sentences. Close the letter with a restatement of the benefits and why they are important. Be sure to thank them too: “I look forward to reading the book and have high hopes that it will be perfect for my students to learn business letter techniques. Thank you for your promptness.”
Benefit: Acknowledgement letters are not strictly necessary, unless they’ve been requested, but they go a long way to building goodwill and boosting business relationships. People like to be thanked for their actions.Writing an acknowledgement letter helps the recipient remember you in a positive way, and in business, that’s a good thing!
Focus: If you are writing an adjustment letter it means you are on the receiving end of a complaint letter. Your objective is to resolve the complaint, or notify the “complainer” of the reasons why you are not going to resolve the complaint. In other words, it’s your turn to tell your side of the story.
Points to Include: In the intro, state your main points, either the steps you propose to rectify the complaint or the reason(s) you can’t or won’t. In the main body, back those steps or reasons up with facts or information. Conclude with a recap of your main points and if you are attempting to resolve the issue, an apology for the recipients inconvenience. If you are denying the issues or not ready to concede, you should still be polite in your declaration. After all, this is legal proof of your justification. It is a lot less embarrassing if you are on record as being polite.
Benefit: Your letter may go a long way to appeasing the recipient, especially if you let them know that you are willing to work with them to resolve the issue. Your response may keep communication open and stave off legal action. If the situation is not easily resolved, then this correspondence will be a legal record of your story.
"Birgitte, you have a wonderfully clear head, a great knowledge of the craft, and are able to help a writer put on paper, the vision that is in their head. I’m excited for the lucky folks who enlist your services!"
-- Claudine Rogers
Current Novel Progress
Fiction For Fun
My goal: To read 15 novels in 2012. (3 down, 12 to go!) That might not sound like a lot, but consider that for work I read over 100 nonfiction books a year as an indexer. So squeezing in 15 for fun can get challenging. (Let's not even talk about the guilt factor) I'll post my progress here. If you have suggestions you'd care to share, contact me.Thanks! So far I've read...