“How do I become a freelance writer?” This question is one I asked myself several years ago. Diapers had finally become history in our household and I had time to start looking at ways to bring some income into my household besides clipping coupons and growing our food. I wanted a good home-based business.
My immediate assumption was to tackle what I perceived as the only freelance writing market – magazine articles. After many trips to the library, returning with stacks of magazines and old copies of TheWriter’s Market, I got my freelance writing business churning. Query after query I sent out to editors, chock full of research references, extolling my skill as a writer.
But it’s a tough market to crack. It took a year to get my first opportunity, which only slowly led to other opportunities. There were simply too many writers with too many good stories to sell. I was competing in a pond filled with thrashing fish.
Only by happenstance did I pick up a dog-eared copy of a book I had found at the Salvation Army thrift store for a buck – Bob Bly’s “Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $85,000 A Year”. As I leafed through this find, my eyes opened wide with a new realization. There’s a whole world out there looking for freelance writers – it’s just not where I expected!
It’s on the back of cereal boxes, in inserts I get with my vitamins, in my mail box and on the web . . . I realized that writing was all over the place when it came to business. I just hadn’t noticed it although I read it all the time.
Bob Bly has been a freelance writer for at least a quarter century. His book subtitle, “How to Make $85,000 A Year,” is actually dated. Today Bob makes a comfortably high six-figure income from writing sales copy for his business clients and teaching how to do it. His book turned me on to a whole arena of writing for which there was a hungry – no starving – market. Sales writing or, as it’s known in the business, copywriting.
I followed Bob’s books to several excellent home study courses produced by American Writer’s and Artists Incorporated (AWAI), a business dedicated to teaching copywriting and helping freelance writers build strong businesses. (look for my review of these courses).
Despite the current recession, my copywriting business is actually growing. Thanks to a nice jumpstart from Bob himself, who commissioned me to write an e-book on sales writing for the nutritional supplement market, I’ve developed a niche as a health copywriter. I write only part time since we manage a small farm as well and still I have a steady roster of clients and a steady – actually steadily growing – income. I write web pages, brochures, white papers, sales letters, inserts and more.
I get to work at home where I can take breaks to weed, feed the pigs or collect eggs. And if my kids are home from school, I simply remind them to be quiet if I’ve got a business call coming in. Best of all, I’m doing something I enjoy thoroughly. I love researching health topics. And writing about them is even better.
So if you are asking yourself this question, “How do I become a freelance writer?” don’t bother with the magazines. The market was tough when I started years ago and with today’s economy, even more magazines are folding. Better to set your vision on the ever-hungry market for freelance writers – business.
Get your start the same way I did – through Bob Bly’s terrific books and through AWAI’s unbeatable courses. You can find out more about them by going to by going to my list of great home study courses for copywriting and freelance writing.
Wishing you the best of success in building your freelance writing business!