Writing and making money from it is probably everyone’s dream … But it’s unlikely to happen while you’re writing specs as samples to “set yourself up”, which is why I advocate keeping your day job as long as possible while you get your portfolio together or write that novel you’ve always dreamed of.
Similarly, if you want to be a professional screenwriter, money might not be top of your tree in defining yourself as one, especially if you work in film. TV is where the money is (but then you have to have that all-important portfolio of samples, creating a bit of a Catch 22).
Yet it IS possible to make money writing in OTHER ways – welcome to the world of the freelance writer.
Freelance writers are available to hire for any number of writing jobs, small, medium or large. Here are the various ways you can write for money:
Corporate work. All the copy in university and college prospectuses, CD Roms, on websites, in computer games, company text message alerts, toy themes, greeting card slogans and even on cereal boxes needs to be written by somebody – and that somebody can be YOU. It’s difficult work to source – it’s rarely advertised – but writing to various companies can really help get your foot in the door on this one. Some are advertised on the paid-for site, Write This Moment, which is worth joining in my opinion: just £24 for the year.
Journalism. The big magazines and newspapers often have their own freelancers (often people who’ve already worked for them full time previously), but smaller magazines and newspapers, especially those for niche markets, will often welcome articles from “outsiders”. So if you happen to have niche knowledge, you can really clean up here. The big earners are pets and parenting, but anything from cross-stitching to Kayaking can really help you earn £. Check out your Writers’ And Artists’ Yearbook for contact details.
Blogging # 1. It may come as a surprise to British Bloggers in particular, but it IS possible to get paid for blogging. Here is an eHow article on how to do it, that explains it far better than I could. If you think you can write about any number of things for various markets, here’s thirty four sites that pay you to blog.
Blogging # 2. You may decide you want your OWN site that’s all yours AND get paid for it. Some sites have sponsors, such as Parenting Illustrated With Crappy Pictures, which frequently hosts “Non-Crappy Giveaways” from its sponsors. The Feminist Breeder too published how her site makes her money, here. Alternatively, you may want to use advertising, like Google Adwords. The third option is to use your site as a “front” for your related business, like Chris Jones and I do, offering free information in the hope you may want to use our services like Guerilla Filmmaker’s courses or London Screenwriters Festival.
Skilled Writing. Do you have a particular SKILL like translation or medical knowledge? Maybe you have experience of working with non-native English speakers, writing academic essays or writing synopses? If you have a particular skill, you may be able to bid for very specific jobs, like those here.
A word to the wise: if you DO want to blog your own site, DON’T make it a “personal diary” type blog, you need a specific DRAW that sets you apart from the crowd. It can be ANYTHING, whether it’s a screenwriting/script reading tips blog (like this one); filmmaking and positive action (like Chris’); a blog about parenting with a difference (Crappy Pictures or Feminist Breeder) … you get the picture. It needs that “something” to get the audience that will create the following that gets the sponsors and/or outcome you want.
The above are not the ONLY ways of being a freelancer – there are many more journeys in. Just Google “freelance writing jobs” and see. The things to bear in mind are:
1) It takes time to set yourself up
2) You will probably make a loss at first
3) It’s DAMN HARD work!
If it still sounds like the job for you, here are some links that may be useful in your Freelance Journey: