Becoming a WAH Freelance Writer – A Realistic Guide to Excellence

WAH Freelance Writer

If you’ve ever considered becoming a WAH writer, you’ve probably encountered one of two obstacles. One is elitism. There is a barrier to the high-paying, prestigious, print publications that is hard to overcome. For the most part, you’re only allowed in if you’ve already been in before. It’s a catch-22 that prohibits many first-timers from getting into the really profitable markets.

The other obstacle is poor pay. While one end of the spectrum is filled with the Sports Illustrated and National Geographics of the world, paying hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars per article, the other is filled with nameless outlets hoping you’ll do their work for close to nothing.

Either you can knock futilely on the door of the big boys or you can write your fingers to the bone for pennies. That’s it. Those are the only options.

Until now.

Hidden out there in the vast and wild internet are tons of paying markets that will pay you reasonable wages to write on their behalf. No, you won’t get the recognition of someone like Malcolm Gladwell, but you’ll be able to pay your bills and go out on the weekends. And what’s more is that you’ll be able to do it all from home.

Can I write for my favorite magazines?

Put simply: no.

If you can string together sentences, understand the principles of grammar, and have basic research skills, you’re probably capable of writing for your favorite magazines, but that doesn’t really matter.

You see, despite the havoc that the internet is wreaking on the print publication industry, there is still a ton of money to be made with a good magazine. That means that every article is an investment. Whatever they pay you to fill their pages needs to be worthwhile. The problem with hiring you to write an article is that you’re an unknown.

That means – in their eyes – you’re not just an investment, you’re a gamble.

Now, if you’re an expert in your field, you may have the oomph to overcome the common barrier and convince an editor to put your work in print (we’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post), but most writers will have to enjoy their magazine off of the newsstand like everyone else.

The internet gives – and takes away

Meanwhile, as the print publication industry trucks along doing what it’s always done, there’s the internet. Believe it or not, there are over one billion websites on the web, and nearly all of them need written content. That’s a huge bounty of potential clients.

Certainly there will still be elite outlets unavailable to you, but there are plenty more that are willing to pay a few bucks to almost anyone who can write in a way that’s not subhuman.

The problem is that the internet is global and that means that so is your competition. That competition drives down the price as writers contend with one another for writing jobs. In fact, you’ll see some jobs listed at truly atrocious prices.

I recall one advertisement searching for writers who will work at the rate of $.003/word. That means if you write a one thousand word article, you’ll earn the princely sum of three dollars. That $3 has to pay for the time you spent researching, outlining, drafting, editing and rewriting your piece.

Depending on the topic and the length of time it takes you to work, that could be as low as $1.50/hour.

Perhaps the craziest part is that people are actually taking these jobs! If you live in America like I do, you simply can’t live on that sort of money. If you live in other countries, however, such as India, the Philippines, or Pakistan, $3 isn’t such a bad price. The size of the internet means that lots of jobs are available to you, but it also means that you have to search a minefield of bad gigs.

Finding the balance

Luckily, there are plenty of jobs in the middle!

This is the first post in a series of posts that are going to explain to you how to find that middle ground and exploit it for a livelihood you can be proud of!

I’m going to answer all of the common beginner questions. You’ll learn how to:

  • Find clients
  • Price your services
  • Find your niche
  • Discover “behind-the-scenes” jobs
  • Create a portfolio
  • Write contracts
  • Earn more money

Don’t beat your head against the door of the big-time editors that won’t pay you any mind and don’t work your butt off only to enjoy insignificant earnings. I’ll show you a better way.

 

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[Image by deathtothestockphoto.com]

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Daniel Taylor

Daniel is a freelance writer working out of his home in Secane, Pennsylvania. He likes eating cheesesteaks, listening to the blues, and reading great non-fiction. You can email him with questions or moral dilemmas at daniel@danieltaylorwrites.com

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