Friday, June 24, 2011

The Future of Freelance Writing. Is There One?

Everyone knows: Print mags are folding. Their spines are becoming slimmer and slimmer. Newspapers are on-line. Print journals are becoming a relic of the past.

Is there a freelance market anymore? I spoke with journalist Kristi Singer about this very fact. Singer specializes in entertainment reporting and music journalism. You can learn more about her writing on her blog: http://kristisingerisalmostfamous.wordpress.com

“Sadly, I want to be honest here and say it is a very tough time for writers," says Singer. "Magazines and newspapers were the bread and butter of the freelance writer. Now so many magazines are folding because advertisers can't afford to advertise. Content is so readily available for free online as well."

Advice for Freelancers in a Difficult Time

“I would say just be persistent," shares Singer, "make the connections, network and don't give up if this is what you want to do. Many online magazines, blogs and websites have to use writers as well as print.

I do have a few common sense rules though:

1) Don't ever write for free. It causes a downward slide in the pay scale for all writers across the board.

2) If you are starting out as a freelance writer, keep your part or full time job until you know that you will make enough to survive.

You Still Want to Be a Freelance Writer. How Does One Break In?

“The answer is that there are many routes, like with any career. You may get your start at the college newspaper and make contacts with local media. Others write as a hobby and on a whim submit a story for publication and are often times surprised that they get accepted. I think the bottom line - with any form of art - is that if it's good, it's good. If you have natural talent, it won't go unnoticed no matter which route you take."

Networking

"If you are serious about a freelance writing career," says Singer, "you have to be very organized, deadline oriented and understand the importance of networking and timing. Join websites for writers and definitely LinkedIn and Facebook. Create a website or blog with your work that you can send potential clients/editors to. Then, start researching. If your focus is music, look up every music magazine and website you can find and start contacting them. Eventually you will get someone who needs you and your journey will begin.

Finding Your Niche: Kristi’s Is Music

“Finding your niche as a writer I think begins with your interests and passions. I chose music and entertainment because that was my love and slight obsession. I knew all of the bands and songs on the radio and was excited to learn about everything 'behind the music.

"If you want to go the music journalism route, you will have to build relationships with bands, managers, local clubs, promoters, record labels, etc. It may be difficult to do initially, but eventually they will recognize your name and respond quickly.

"My relationships in the entertainment/music business began while I was in college writing for the university's newspaper. I became friends with the local bands, went to concerts that came to town, became friends with local DJ's who got me access to backstage and interviews artists I probably might not have had the chance to get to as easily on my own. I networked and made friends. And I'd say it was a snowball effect."

Singer's Advice for the Aspiring Freelancer?

- Write about those things you are passionate about. Otherwise it will become work too quickly.

- Don't be discouraged when you get your first, second, third and fourth "no." That just means you are one editor closer to a "yes."

- Network, network, network.

- Promote yourself. Sell yourself. You are your own business.

- Be organized and pay attention.

- Don't give up on your dream and pursue it no matter who believes in you or who doesn't.

- Enjoy the feeling of seeing your byline and be happy about it. You earned it.

2 comments:

  1. Good post. I'd love to freelance (or do anything in the publishing industry), but it's so hard to break in.
    bethfred.com

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  2. Yes, it's hard to break in but not impossible. I have another post in here somewhere about positioning yourself as an expert. If you can show that you have a certain expertise in a subject then you can often convince editors to let you write about that subject for their magazines, if it's a fit. Today, with all the blogs, there are a lot of opportunities for guest blogging. Only problem is there's no pay. :-)

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