Become a Freelance Writer

© Diane M. Aull

Could you be a freelance writer?

Well, let’s see. Do you have any interests or hobbies? Do you have any skills? Have you ever had any life experiences?

If your life up to now has taken place inside a dark closet, you might have some trouble. Otherwise, you’ve already pretty much got what it takes. The real trick is to decide what you want to write about, and locate suitable outlets.

You don’t have to write a best-selling novel or book of poetry to be a successful freelance writer. There are a number of writing specialties you could pursue, even if you don’t have a storytelling or poetic bone in your body.

Technical Writer

For instance, you could be a technical writer. When you buy a new computer or appliance, the user manual was written by a technical writer. If you have difficulties and consult an online or printed troubleshooting guide, it was most likely written by a technical writer. You know those help files that are included with almost every software application? Ditto. Technical writers produce all sorts of documents: product specifications, how-to books, quick start guides, and so forth.

To be a good technical writer, you need some measure of technical aptitude. You don’t have to be a programmer or an engineer yourself to write product user manuals, but you do have to be able to understand all the nuances of how the product works, so that you can explain it clearly to new users.


Or you could become a copywriter. Sales letters, catalog descriptions, newspaper ads, brochures, flyers, even the text on corporate Web sites — all these are written by copywriters.

There are various sub-specialties of copywriters, for instance: search engine optimization copywriters, who make sure that the text on Web sites is search-engine friendly; and advertising copywriters, who specialize in getting you to part with your hard-earned cash. If fiction isn’t your style, but you don’t want to work in the cut-and-dried world of technical writing, you might want to take a look at copywriting.


Many newspapers, particularly smaller local papers, are on the lookout for new, interesting articles and columns to interest their readers. Think up a topic with local interest — the local music and entertainment scene, advice for small businesses, local history, you name it, and you could be on your way to becoming a published newspaper columnist.

Likewise, magazines are always in the market for new material. After all, like newspapers, they’ve got a publishing schedule to meet and lots of blank pages to fill. And there are magazines covering every topic you could imagine, so no matter what your interest or specialty, with a little work you should be able to find at least one magazine for which you’re a perfect fit. You should be aware that some magazines will only accept articles from established writers (which is where those "clips" of your articles in your local newspaper can come in handy!), while others will accept articles from new writers. You’ll have to check with each magazine to find out their submission criteria.

Ghost writer

Another alternative is to become a ghost writer. No, this doesn’t have anything to do with writing spooky stories! Many celebrities (and a lot of non-celebrities) have ideas for books, but not so many people have the time, energy and skills to sit down and write those books. As a ghost writer, you will help these people by organizing their thoughts into a well-written article or book.

Depending on the type of agreement you have with the person commissioning your services, you may or may not get writing credit on the book. In most cases, you won’t get credit, or you may get a "special thanks" in the "author’s" dedication. Many of the books out there that are supposedly written by various celebrities and experts were actually written by ghost writers.

If you aren’t hung up on the ego trip of seeing your name in lights and you’re good at adapting your writing style so that it sounds as though the "idea person" is doing the writing, then you could be a very successful ghost writer.

Resources for Freelance Writers
This free e-mail newsletter and website, written by Angela Hoy, posts new writers markets and freelance job openings, offers tips and advice for fledgling writers and tracks "problem"publishers and agents. It’s full of useful information and leads. A definite must-visit for any aspiring freelance writer!
How to Become an Advertising Copywriter
This e-book will help you break into the world of advertising copywriting. Includes information on how to get work, where to get training, how to remain successful once you’ve got the job, and more. 120 pages. Download instantly and to get started right away.
How to Become a Book Editor
Learn what it takes to become either an acquisitions editor or a copyeditor (and what the difference is between these two) with this informative e-book. Includes information on how to get work as a freelance editor. 130 pages. Immediate download with no shipping delays.
How to Become a Children’s Book Author
With this downloadable e-book you will discover the myths about writing for children, how to make your manuscript more attractive to editors, how to write a query, how to work with a literary agent, how to publicize your work, and more. One of the authors has over 20 published children’s books to her credit! 171 pages.
How to Become a Food Writer
Read this e-book to discover how and where to become a food expert and develop the writing skills you need. Learn how to come up with freelance story ideas, how to get work from newspapers and magazines, how to syndicate your writing, and more. 98 pages available for immediate download.
How to Become a Movie Reviewer
Download this e-book and learn how to query and approach editors, what markets are best for movie reviewers, how to make contacts in the movie industry, how to market yourself, and more. 123 pages.
How to Become a Mystery Writer
This e-book will teach you how to improve your mystery writing skills, how to decide which genre of mystery is best for you, and how to get your manuscript published. The e-book author has written seven published books, as well as being a former editor and literary agent. 126 pages.
How to Become a Romance Writer
This e-book is packed with insider tips and advice from more than 75 published romance writers. You’ll learn what you need to know before you approach an editor, how to avoid being perceived as an amateur, how to get an agent, how to promote your work, and much more. Written by Lori Soard, Chairperson of World Romance Writers. 127 pages.
How to Become a Travel Writer
Travel the world and make money doing it! You can become a travel writer with no special training or experience necessary. All that’s required is a love of travel and the ability to write. This e-book not only includes information on how to get work as a travel writer, it includes vital tips for the traveler, including how to create an itenerary, what you need to pack, understanding different cultures, how to get your accommodations and meals for free, and more. The author has visited more than 100 countries and written numerous travel articles, as well as two travel guide books. 117 pages.

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