It sounds like a dream job and that is because it kind of is. But, getting into freelance writing isn’t just a walk in the park…
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One of the most common questions I see sliding into DM’s on Instagram is ‘how do you make money off what you do’. It is a pretty blunt question if I am honest, but I guess in such a new and unregulated industry, there is still a lot of confusion about how it all actually works. For anyone who is not as involved in it as I may be, I can see where the curiosity comes from.
To answer that question for you all: I make a living through my social channels, my blog, freelancing in social media/e-commerce management and through freelance writing. In fact, the latter is probably the most stable income stream that I have at the moment. Unlike my own personal channels where work comes in on an ad hoc basis, my freelance writing is seeing me complete at least 5 new travel/food/lifestyle articles a month for The Upsider and AWOL.
Now, second to questions about how I make a living, questions about getting in to freelance writing are the most common I get. It is obviously a job that has people’s interest, and one that a lot of people really want to crack. If I am going to be as blunt as the ‘how do you make a living?’ question, getting in to and maintaining a freelance writing gig can be a bloody tough slog. It is amazing and I feel incredibly lucky that I have the opportunity to do what I do, but I also owe everyone all the truths.
So, to give anyone who is interested a bit more of an insight into the process, the most common questions I get have been answered below.
How did you get into freelance writing?
I was incredibly fortunate and literally fell into writing. Please know that this really is not the norm.
I woke up one morning to an email from channel 9’s travel website editor asking if I could write an article on Perth brunches, and being the opportunist I am, I said yes – despite not being a journalist and feeling heavily under qualified for the role. But, I did my job meticulously (and with a lot of pressure from myself) and they were keen for more. From there, things snowballed and one editor recommended me to another editor etc etc… and here I am.
As I said, I was incredibly fortunate to end up doing what I do the way that I did. I know how hard some people have to work to get their jobs, so in no way, shape or form do I take my route into this world for granted; especially when I know how cut throat the industry is. If you want to work in the industry, you have to be prepared to fight, work hard and perform.
How do you go about getting into the field yourself?
Once again, the industry is incredibly cut throat, especially if you want to be paid for your work. Like a lot of creative industries, there are plenty of ‘jobs’ out there that have no budget to pay their writers, and the paid jobs are as precious as that stone in your grandmother’s ring. And, just like any other industry, journalists will almost always come before those without a degree (which is more than fair – this is what they do).
But don’t give up just because you don’t have a degree. No good ever came from sitting there on your hands in your comfort zone. If you want to freelance write, do everything you can to put yourself in a good position to do so. If you don’t yet have a portfolio of work that you can show, don’t disregard those unpaid jobs right away. Getting a few written pieces for a client – not your own personal blog – under your belt can only help you. You couldn’t get a job as a graphic designer without having a portfolio to show, and the same goes for writing.
Lastly, make sure you make good connections with people. Like they always say, ‘it is who you know, not what you know’. I would not be writing for The Upsider and AWOL if it weren’t for building a good rapport with one of the editors at Channel 9. And believe you me, you will find it a lot harder to find writing roles by blindly emailing people expressing your interest than you will meeting and chatting with the right people (can you imagine how many people they get emailing them each day wanting to write for them?!).
How much does it pay?
Again, I hate this question – both for it’s bluntness and it’s ambiguous answer. I can’t tell you how much it pays because everyone puts a different value on their written pieces, everyone has different budgets and different articles take different amounts of time to complete. Some people pay per word, some per article and some per hour – it really all depends on who you are working for.
All I can say is that it is definitely no FIFO wage!
Like I said, I in no way take what I do for granted, and I absolutely love what I do. I hope that helped to sate some of your curiosity if you were interested, and if not – I hope you learned a little something new!
If you have any further questions about freelance writing for me, please feel free to ask away in the comments!