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Qualities of a Freelancer

Good writing, knowledge of markets, and speed. These are three qualities needed by a freelance writer. I'm reminded of this every time I have a conversation with someone interested in knowing what it takes to be one.

Knowledge of markets is the most crucial and the one writers usually resist the most.




Those are the equations for many writers. They touch a difficult nerve. But, if you apply a bit of study it's something that you can deal with, even master:

(1) Make time to study the market books. Pour over them and write down notes when you come to a publication you could approach with an idea. Try to understand all the writing markets that exist. Try it first in your own region. There are fantastic resources like the Literary Marketplace, SRDS, or PubList.com that show you every publication that exists around where you live. And that includes newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and professional journals.

(2) The publisher has found an audience. He wants to be able to go to advertisers and say, "I have a good audience for you, one that you want to meet." And he goes to the editor and says, "Get me the best content that will bring every resource to this audience and make them happy."

Experience will teach a writer the great variety of culture and community that exists. You can't fool them. If you give them facts and diversion in a pleasant way, you can reach them.

(3) The single best piece of advice is to study the publication you want to write for over a long period of time, even a year. Editors will tell you that they can sense when someone has taken the time to research the magazine and its needs and it impresses them. This is part of the sublime connection a writer can make with an editor.

* * * * *

Speaking of editors I can offer a few insights since I've been one for some years at Sunoasis.com.

(a) Don't run with the crowd. The crowd will only drive you over a cliff into the sea. Let the crowd run for awhile and then get very counter-intuitive about why they are running in the same direction. If a subject gets hot, by the time most writers find out it's too late. Once you see the crowd flowing past you start asking questions like, "what's wrong with this picture?" You'll find many more ideas than if you start running with them.

(b) If an editor has a professional relation with a writer, chances are they will listen to someone the writer has recommended. That is part of the networking process. And it works that way because the editor is looking for constancy and credibility. When he builds a relation with a writer, he begins to trust that writer and the writer isn't going to do something to violate that trust.

* * * * *

The freelance writer must turn over work fairly regularly. That takes knowledge of the market and how to use one article or one topic many times through the marketplace.

Every writer should know, after some experience, how long it takes to complete a piece of writing. That has got to be a prime habit the writer learns early on.

A writer can write fast when they trust the power of revision. Just write out the piece as it comes tumbling from the mind, get a big fat file down on the computer desktop. And then apply the art and craft of revision to the heap of words. If you don't trust this power of revision; if you think your words are etched in stone, then it is likely you will not write fast enough and turn enough copy over to be a freelance writer.

* * * * *

"Good writing," may appear an intangilbe quality at first. However, it is marked by conciseness, revision, a targeted goal, good grammar and punctuation.

The most important quality to have as a freelance writer is the belief some aspect of your writing will improve next assignment. Combine that with boundless curiousity and you will flourish as a professional writer.

Written by David Eide, Sunoasis.com

If you have any questions about careers in freelance writing don't hesitate to ask!

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For those new to the Net or overwhelmed by the nature of the online job market I suggest you look at the Cyber Search Tutorial.There are more job boards and classifieds from metro newspapers.

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David Eide
Copyright 2000-2016


"Sunoasis, I want to know how I can syndicate."

We get a lot of requests for news and information about prospects for syndication. It's a very hard nut to crack and these resources will help you. The thing to remember is that the editor and publisher of a publication is looking for what sells. You need to focus on "what sells" while providing a new and interesting slant and a pleasant style.

Self-syndicating your column by M. Allen
Self-syndicating your Weekly Column by Elizabeth Laden
Some advice about syndication.
Featurewell is an interesting enterprise. If you are a journalist make sure you go and check it out.
Click on the article link, "How To Get Syndicated."

David Eide
copyright 2000-2016