Three Important Lessons Learned from Freelance Writing


      When I tell people that I’m a freelance writer, they immediately have a bunch of questions for me. Where do I work? What do I write? What kind of money do I make? Can I get them a job? Everyone (from cab drivers to business owners to drunk tourists) wants to know.

      I see the light in their eyes as they imagine putting words to paper, seeing their books in stores, and receiving praise while the money rolls in. Every time, that bright light turns into careful consideration when I explain the reality of a freelance writing career.

1. It’s not you, it’s them. But it’s on you.

      This is something I didn’t figure out until I began my freelance writing career: your ideas are only half of writing. Whenever you are writing with the intent to publish, you are writing for other people. These mysterious and faceless people determine the success of your work. They must be able to understand your writing.

      Reader comprehension trumps personal expression. Do I hate it when my carefully constructed sentences are deleted or shortened or ripped apart? Of course I do. But I just shrug and move onto the next assignment. It’s nothing personal. 


2. Being your own boss means kicking your own ass.

      My income comes entirely from freelance writing and copy editing. I literally cannot afford to take it easy. Sure, there are mornings when I want to lie in bed and watch TV, and days when I want to ditch work and go to the zoo. That’s the worker side of me. The boss side doesn’t allow it.

My boss is like a separate character in my head who tells me what to do. If there are a ton of deadlines coming up, she tells me I need to stay in and work late. An article I really don’t want to write? The Writer can whine and cry and sulk at the keyboard, but the Boss stands over her shoulder with a grim smile and says, “Write.” She’s not mean, though. I do get vacation time and days off, but I have to earn them. Just like time off from any other job.

3. Panning for gold means throwing out a lot of dirt.

      It doesn’t matter what I write: I throw out material every time I create something. If I’m lucky, I’ll just ditch an introduction and a few sentences, then write new material. If I’m having an off day, I end up throwing out more words than I use.

      Right now, I’m writing in WordPad. I put the good material at the top. If I don’t think a paragraph fits here, but it might work somewhere else, I put it at the bottom of the document in a sort of writing graveyard. This article has 378 words in the graveyard, not counting the few paragraphs I scribbled by hand and the sentences deleted forever.

      When I’m writing for myself, I don’t mind a big graveyard: I can work the material into another post. If I’m writing for someone else, it’s time-consuming and counterproductive to have a graveyard bigger than the finished document. However, I have no hesitation about killing off paragraphs. The more you write, the less attached you are to individual sentences.

Ready to be professional about your writing? Grab a free copy of The Weekend Book Marketing Makeover by our friends at Duolit by tweeting about it or signing up for email updates. Toni has graciously allowed PopularSoda to provide an exclusive preview of the book’s contents. Take a look!

Preview from The Weekend Book Marketing Makeover by Duolit


3 Serious Questions About Your Self-Promotion Strategy

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     Congratulations! Your ebook is finally out (or almost out). Now it’s time for a big marketing push. It should be easy compared to the odyssey of writing the book, right?

     Not so fast. We’ve seen money wasted, opportunities squandered, and readers alienated because indie authors failed to do due diligence before jumping into promoting their books. To help you create effective campaigns and avoid their mistakes, here are three serious questions to ask yourself before you start marketing.


1. What are your realistic, concrete goals?

     Becoming a best-selling author, having loads of adoring fans, and getting a movie deal are great goals. Unfortunately, they’re not realistic (and potentially unquantifiable- how do you measure adoration?). Set your sights on smaller, measurable goals. Smaller goals tend to have more straightforward paths: it’s easier and more proactive to work on getting 100 views for a blog post than to wait for a Hollywood studio to knock on your door with a movie deal.

      Bite-sized goals are also achievable. And where ultimate goals are all-or-nothing (you either have a book deal or you don’t), smaller goals can be modified at any time. Those 100 views on a blog post? Maybe you thought you’d get them all within a day, but it’s just as respectable to get those views in three days. Or a week. Realistic, concrete goals related to book promotion can be things like…

  • 100 ebook sales
  • 100 Twitter followers
  •  Three genuine reviews from strangers
  • Guest posting on your favorite ebook site
  • Creation of a personalized media kit
  • A book blogger’s acceptance of your ebook for review