(This feature was published in BrewYourBestYear.com last September 6, 2014)
As a child, I never dreamt of becoming a doctor, lawyer or even a beauty queen. In fact, I thought I would be an architect like my dad or an accountant like my mom. Then as I grew up, I realized that I like words more than numbers and discovered my interest in writing.
My passion for it deepened when I first saw my name in print at our high school newspaper. I was bitten bad by the writing bug so I pursued it as a course in college and eventually went into that career path after I graduated from the university and worked in a publishing company.
I got addicted to seeing my byline and never attempted to cure myself of that malady—I doubt if I ever will.
More than a decade after I stepped out of the university, I’m still writing and I’m doing it as a full-time freelance writer. I get to write about my travels, food trips, and other lifestyle-related activities for various print and online publications. I often get the comment, “I love your job!” I do, too. It took a while though to establish myself in this field, as success didn’t come overnight.
Here are some tips on how to be an effective freelance writer.
Step 1: Ask yourself, “Do I really want to become a writer?”
I’ve heard the saying that “Writers are born and not made”, but I believe that most writers are born with the talent although training also plays a big role in a writer’s life. Even if you are unsure of having innate writing capabilities, you can still become a master of the pen through education and practice. The important thing is committing to it.
Step 2: Establish your network
Whether you earn a communications/literary degree or something totally unrelated, you can still become a freelance writer if you have good connections with people from the industry. How? Attend writing workshops, go to book signing events, sign up for seminars, and the like. Be present at events where you can meet likeminded individuals and other people from the industry. All it takes is having one editor-friend who would give you a chance. Once you get your foot in the door, it becomes easy to build your byline one article at a time.
Step 3: Always wear your writer’s hat
The secret to being a good writer is practice, practice, and more practice. You can only get better by doing so. In order to find topics to write about, you need to be a voracious reader and have an open mind. By reading literature written by your favorite authors, you’ll get inspiration for your own writing style and voice. By being open-minded and thinking out-of-the-box, you’ll find new and unique story angles that you can pitch to publications. Along the way, you’ll get to create your own portfolio where you can showcase your sample works or published pieces. Don’t forget to keep on pitching your ideas to the websites or magazines you want to write for so you’ll get better chances of being published.
Step 4: Build a good reputation
Remember, you are only as good as your last byline. Every time you have a writing gig, you should keep in mind that editors want a disciplined writer who has a good grasp of grammar and can stick to deadlines. Make sure that your work fits the style and tone of the publication and that you submit on time. That way, your editor will keep you top of mind for future assignments.