23 June 2015

Day 23: Freelance 101


Freelance writing has its ups and downs, pros and cons. The freelance lifestyle can feel like a rollercoaster at times: the highs are the rewards and results that come from hard work and perseverance, the lows are the frustrations that come from chasing up payments or hitting the wall of writers block.

The freelance writing lifestyle has its perks: you can work from home (in your pyjamas) and often work according to your own schedule. Freelancing often allows you creative freedom, as YOU pitch the stories that YOU want to write, about the issues YOU are passionate about.

Freelancing also has its pitfalls; money is irregular and, depending on the publication, can take weeks to finally reach your bank account. You’re working as a casual employee, so there’s not really any job stability either. You’re also working on someone else’s terms, so be prepared to sacrifice sleep to meet that deadline and file that piece.

In order to be a freelance writer, there are a few things you need to be good at:

  1. Writing: this one is pretty self-explanatory. Good writing isn’t hard to come by, but great writing is something special. Freelancing is highly competitive, so solid writing skills and fresh ideas are necessary to ensure you stand out from the crowd.
  2. Time management: as a serious procrastinator myself, this one is often the hardest for me. In order to make deadlines and have ample research time, you’ll need to learn how to manage your time and yourself. That might mean forcing yourself to stay off social media or delaying other tasks until the one at hand is completed. Having a good workspace is necessary and setting yourself hourly goals helps too.
  3. Communication: learn how to send a damn good email, and an even better pitch. You can refer to our pitching guide from Day 3 on the NYWM Blog.


In tonight’s NYWM online event, writer and editor Neha Kale is giving us a short course in Freelancing 101. Neha Kale is a contributor to Daily Life, The Sydney Morning Herald, Broadsheet and many more—so she knows a thing or two about the freelance lifestyle. Be sure to tune in tonight from 6pm!

Writing Exercise

Pick a topic you’d love to write about and follow this step-by-step guide on how to write an op-ed.

  1. Pick your issue, then your format: ask yourself a few questions! What are you writing? What angle are you taking? How are you going to write it? Your opinion piece can take the format of a personal essay, a rhetorical analysis or can even merge into the territory of ranting.
  2. Determine your audience: who is going to read your piece? Why are they going to read it? How are you going to ensure that they continue to read past the first line? If it’s a personal essay, make sure it’s relatable. If it’s about a particular social issue, make sure to contact the right sources and promote it to a like-minded community.
  3. Do your research, seriously: Learn as much as you possibly can about the issue, and ensure that you know your stuff. Have a thorough understanding of both sides of the issue, plus every edge and crevice that can add to your understanding.
  4. Write and then re-write, and then re-write again: Set yourself personal deadlines and then meet your actual editorial deadlines. Respect your editors decisions and work together on the creative process to come up with a seriously great piece of work.
  5. Be proud of what you’ve created: your op-ed is great because YOU created it! Take pride in your work and shamelessly self-promote it on social media. After you’ve no doubtedly sacrificed sleep to meet your deadline, you deserve it.