One of the problems with freelance writing, especially in the beginning, is it’s really hard to get accurate feedback.
When you apply online for writing gigs your responses often seem to drop into a black hole.
If you send a query or an over-the-transom submission to a magazine you’re very likely to get a printed canned rejection slip.
Here are the five major reason people attempting to become freelance writers fail to get writing jobs:
Your writing simply isn’t good enough. Although freelance writing doesn’t require a degree or even special training, it does require the ability to communicate at least clearly in print – on screen and off. If you don’t have that, you have two choices: choose another career or learn to write well.
Writing is a learnable skill. If you suspect your writing skills are just not good enough look for a class or a coach who can give you honest critiques and point you toward improving your writing.
The art of writing is something else. I don’t know if art can be taught. It seems to come from digging deep within. You don’t need art to get started as a freelancer, although it’s nice if you’ve got it.
The post, 10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Writing may help.
You’re scattering your shots. You’re applying for all sorts of writing gigs instead of slowing down enough to do a good job applying for those you know you can do well.
Although when you’re applying online there is a need for speed because so many respond, speed at the expense of quality will get you no where.
Decide on two or three areas you’d like to write in – animals, the environment, marketing, politics, making money online, weight – either losing or gaining, etc. etc. etc. Put up some samples on your website or blog and apply to those gig.
You’re not paying close enough attention to reading the ads/publications. Sure, ads for writing can seem obscure. Read every word and consider the problem the ad is presenting. Show how you can solve it and you’re that much closer to getting a job.
If you’re writing for magazines or book publishers study the magazine or the publisher’s book catalog. Read them with an eye toward discovering what they want, what they actually use, then do something like that. They know their audience and every issue of the magazine or the book catalog offers real clues to writers. Make use of them.
You’re not following the instructions. When I was editing magazines, when I solicit guest posts and when I talk with others who do the same, the most consistent complaint is would-be freelancers do not follow the instructions. It’s amazing. Editors ask for email queries and get them by snail mail. They ask for submissions through agents only and have to respond to piles of unsolicited manuscripts. They ask for samples or links to samples and get anything but.
When you don’t follow the instructions whatever you submit is apt to be thrown out before it’s read. Those instructions are written because editors know what works for them. Remember, it’s not about you!
And when the instructions are vague and confusing? Simply do your best. If the ad is online it won’t do any good to ask a question. Sometimes, on bidding sites, there is an opportunity to post a question but if you watch you’ll see those are rarely answered. Do your best or skip the ad. If the employer doesn’t find someone who can do what is needed they will run the ad again, hopefully with better information.
How did you move from not getting writing jobs to getting them?