Over in the 5 Buck Forum someone asked how they could begin writing for magazines when they didn’t have any experience. I realized how different freelance writing is from most jobs.
If you want a job as say a computer programmer or an elementary school counselor, you need to demonstrate you have specific training and, unless you’re starting in an ‘entry level’ (read low pay) job, experience.
Freelance writers, on the other hand, don’t need any particular training, nor do they have to demonstrate experience. If you can write even reasonably well you can probably get published and paid for it.
Here are some of the ways you can get started with little or no experience.
Getting Started In Magazine Writing
If magazine writing is your target it’s perfectly okay to submit a completed article ‘over the transom’ or on ‘spec.‘ You don’t need permission. All you really need is a completed article and either the magazine’s email or snail mail address.
You’ll have a bit better luck if you check the magazine’s market listing – Writer’s Market is the best way to do this. Write your article and follow the submission instructions. You may be rewarded with a check.
You can also try a query letter. If your idea is strong and well presented you may get acceptance ‘on spec.’ You then follow-through with the completed article knowing you’re got the editor’s attention.
Sure, queries can work better if you can show some clips on a website or make reference to where you’ve been published, but those are not required.
What editors want is someone who can write – that’s the criteria. In fact, in the long run your ability to write and your ability to market yourself and your writing are the only ingredients required to earn as a freelance writer and to ultimately earn a full time living.
What about other kinds of writing?
Magazine writing isn’t the only place you can get a foothold with no or minimal experience.
Build a website and put up some samples of the kinds of things you want to write. For example, you could post two or three press releases or a sales letter or two.
Assuming your samples are well done, you can begin to market yourself to local businesses who need freelance writers. It will help if you first figure out your hourly rate. Then make some calls, either on the phone or in person.
Check the job links here and elsewhere. Again, using your website you may be able to land a paid gig or two.
Once you start building some credits it will get easier, but there is absolutely no reason you can’t get started without it.
Of course, you may have more experience than you recognize. No Writing Clips? No Problem! is a post that may help you discover writing experiences you didn’t remember or recognize you’ve had.
How did you get started as a freelance writer?