Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Get Started as a Freelance Writer—Part Three, What Should I Query?

SPECIAL NOTE: I am out of the country until June 18. I’m on a mission trip in Ethiopia (and I’d love to have your prayers). But please don’t let this stop you from reading and commenting (if you read the post below you’ll see why)! I’ve scheduled all my regular blog posts, so nothing will change, except I won’t be able to answer your questions or comments. But don’t worry, I’ll catch up with you all when I return. And I’ll have lots of stories and experiences to share.

Making a living as a freelance writer sometimes requires nerves of steel. It’s a business where you have to be willing to take risks. What does that look like in a profession of words? It means applying for many different types of assignments—often where you have little or no expertise.

I know that makes some of you want to hyperventilate, but stay with me. We live in the age of instant access. Instead of being a negative, for a freelancer that’s a positive. It means that you have the ability to learn about almost anything—all from the comfort of your desk chair. In this business, Google is your best friend!

So how do I decide what to query? Here are some of the factors I use to decide: 
  • How much it pays. Okay, I know it’s crass to start with money—but this is the way I make my living.
  • Do I have expertise with this type of writing? If I do, I want to make good money. If not, I may take a low paying job or two to get some experience.
  • Am I interested in the topic? Life is short and I like to look for things that I enjoy writing about. I can't always choose cool topics, but it helps to have assignments I enjoy sprinkled in with the ones that earn money. With freelance writing it's always a balancing act.

 How do I get experience in new areas? 
  • Take assignments that pay less (or even nothing) to gain experience.
  • Offer to help an established writer in that specialty in exchange for tips and techniques.
  • Network, network, network! Did you know you have access to a network here on this blog? Everyone who comments is visible to others—and you all already have something in common—me! Are you taking advantage of this network?

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your questions and experiences? Remember, I’m out of town for a couple of weeks so you’re going to have to help each other. Take a minute to read the comments section and help each other out—here’s your chance to start that new network!

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Edie, you're so on target about how to grow a freelance writing career. I started out taking free assignments, simply for the experience and exposure--and it worked! The more clips I had--whether paid or not--the more acceptances I got that DID pay. And even now, after many years as a freelance writer, I may take an unpaid assignment because of the benefit to me or as a tithe of my time.

    Praying for you as you serve God in Ethiopia!

  2. Thank you for the practical information and the inspiration!

    I also recently watched your youtube interview with Alton Gansky! So encouraging!

    I'm praying for you as you travel and minister in His Name!

  3. Thanks for the tips, Edie. I've already written some devotions for free, but am unsure how to branch into something else-- say articles, for example. Who would have someone inexperienced write an article for them?