“It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” – Robert Benchley
You can make a lot of money by writing a best-selling novel, a blockbuster movie script, or an award-winning scientific research paper. It may not be likely, but it is possible. And, if you’re so inclined, I would encourage you to pursue all of those writing opportunities.
But in the meantime, I want to show you how to make money as a freelance writer in hundreds, even thousands, of markets. On top of that, I’m going to show you a simple step-by-step formula for finding and landing paid writing projects.
I doubt that anyone had less training or experience than I did when I started out as a writer.
The first publisher I successfully pitched was looking for someone to write website reviews. When he asked me for writing samples and references for my published work… well, I didn’t have any “writing samples.” And I certainly didn’t have any published work.
I approached this challenge pretty much the same way I approach getting new writing jobs today. Here’s what I did…
Coming up with writing samples was easy, because the publisher told me he was looking for website reviews with an “edge.” I asked myself, “How hard can it be to write a website review with an ‘edge’?”
The publisher had sent me a link to a website with hundreds of reviews. He said, “These are the types of reviews we need.”
I thoroughly studied every review on that website. I counted the words in each sentence. I studied the writer’s “voice and attitude.” By the time I was done, I understood exactly what the publisher was looking for.
Then I sat down and wrote out 10 website reviews without stopping.
My next step was to rewrite each one of my reviews to make sure they had the right number of words… and lots of attitude.
I submitted my reviews to the publisher, avoiding any mention of my “published work.” I hoped he wouldn’t ask – and he didn’t.
He called me a few days later, and said that he loved the reviews and was sending me a contract. The contract arrived via FedEx, and – bingo! – I had my first paid writing gig.
What I didn’t tell you is that I wrote to more than 50 publishers before I got this gig. In other words, if you want to land paid writing projects, nothing replaces persistence – focused persistence.
And that ties into my simple step-by-step formula for landing paid writing projects.
Forget about offering to write free articles in order to get your feet wet. The immediate strategy and goal is to land your first paid writing assignment. And your focus is going to be on landing projects for the markets and publications you personally enjoy – writing about subjects you already know something about.
That said, here it is…
My Step-by-Step Formula for Landing Paid Writing Projects:
1. Identify a market that turns you on.
This shouldn’t be hard. What did you read or think about today? The financial markets? Horse breeding? Poker? Internet marketing? Real estate? Major League baseball?
As I told you, my first paid gig was writing website reviews – a job I went after because I thought the World Wide Web was awesome (and I was already spending most of my time online back then).
2. Identify publishers and paid writing projects in that market.
This is the easy part. The Internet makes doing research super-simple. Not only are there hundreds of paid writing resources online, but you can search billions of documents instantly with the help of search engines like Google.
If, for example, you’re looking for publishers that focus on animals or pets, simply enter the words “animal pet publication” or “publisher pets animals.” I found 10 such publishers on the first search results pages on Google.
Another great resource is Writer’s Market 2007. It lists more than 2,200 markets and publishers that need writers.
3. Write and submit a proposal that oozes personality.
When you’re just starting out, you’ll be competing for writing projects with writers who have a lot more experience, savvy, and ability. So what? You’ll get publishers’ attention by submitting proposals – sometimes as simple as an e-mail – that make it easy for them to work with you.
The trick is to focus on what you can offer the publisher’s readers – not on how much you’re going to get paid.
And let your personality shine through… both in the proposal and (if need be) when you negotiate on the phone to close the deal. Write and talk like you do in real life – not like you do when you’re trying to impress an employer or an English teacher.
4. Submit work exactly as stated in the guidelines – BEFORE the deadline!
Every publication has submission guidelines that apply to new writers as well as old-timers. In most cases, the submission guidelines will be easy to follow – and follow them to a “T.”
Then, when you land a paid writing project, deliver it before the deadline.
If you can follow submission guidelines and deliver projects on time – or ahead of deadline – you’ll soon have more work than you can handle.
A publisher recently told me that though I am not the most proficient writer on their team, they appreciate the fact that I always deliver completed projects on time. Therefore, I am their “go-to guy.” Not being the most proficient writer on their team doesn’t bother me – because I love being their “go-to guy”… and getting paid!
5. Always be looking for paid writing projects, even when your hands are full.
This is a principle I’ve lived by in my more than 25 years of starting, running, buying, and selling businesses: Always be looking for the next project… no matter how much work you currently have. Ask any professional writer – and 90 percent of the time they’ll tell you that, yes, they’re always on the lookout for new writing jobs.
That’s it! It’s that simple!
Just identify the markets that turn you on, submit proposals to publishers, follow their submission guidelines, deliver your stuff on time (or before the deadline) – and always be on the lookout for new projects.[Ed. Note: If you’re looking for more ways to earn extra income, consider subscribing to Marc Charles’ weekly Profit Center Dispatch service. Marc’s reports tell you all about some of the hottest business opportunities around and how you can get started. He also includes insider tips to accelerate your success.]