Writing Without a Net
If you put yourself out there, you’ll find the clients that you need in order to make a living as a freelancer. Sometimes those clients can be few and far between, and sometimes the assignments they’re offering you just aren’t that much fun. In any event, sometimes you’ll get the results that you’re after not by waiting for the right clients to come along, but by creating your own work.
Writing without a net can be a little scary. When you’re a freelance journalist working on spec, or writing something that you intend to publish and market yourself, you can’t help but wonder whether or not you’re just wasting your time. Should you really be spending your weekends reading old newspapers at the library for your true crime novel when you could be pursuing new clients in need of some fresh ad copy?
Usually, the answer is yes. But here’s the thing:
Consider That This Might be a Hobby
The work that you pursue on your off-time might never put very much money in your pocket. In general, it’s a safe bet that passion projects don’t pay out in the same way that creating work-on-demand for a steady client tend to pay out. That doesn’t mean that you’re wasting your time, it only means that the rewards may be more personal than financial. That said…
There May be a Market for You (if You do Your Research)
It’s never a bad idea to do some market research before beginning a long-term project. If you want to write a horror novel, for instance, are there any publishers out there who offer fair compensation and accept unsolicited manuscripts? Is there a market for self-published horror on sites like Smashwords and Amazon? What sort of material appeals to those readers? If you just want to write for fun, then write for fun. If you’re hoping that your off-the-clock writing can earn you a little supplemental income, then you’re adding marketer, agent and possibly publisher to your list of job titles.
Decide Who You’re Writing for
Are you writing to sell to a specific demographic? Are you writing just for yourself? Are you writing in hopes of securing more premium clients? It’s a good idea to be clear with yourself, from the start, who you’re writing for. Decide who you’re writing for, and it will be very easy to determine what sort of content you want to produce, and what goals you need to meet in order for the project to be successful.
Gilbert S is a writer and artist who lives in rural New Mexico with his wife and his dog, Sir Kay.