Freelance writing is a wonderful career opportunity in the 21st century because almost anyone can do it. It’s not rocket science, it’s not a medical profession, and it’s not overly difficult. All it really requires is the willingness to spend time refining your craft and having a passion about something that you want to impart to others.
Writing has been around in some form or another since nearly the dawn of time. From the earliest days of man when we were still scratching crude pictures onto cave walls to tablets of stone to hieroglyphs to papyrus to the printing press to blogging, mankind has always had people who were masters of the written word. Transcribers of emotions. Motivators of the spirit.
The digital age is upon us. People are making millions of dollars writing blogs. Blogs aren’t journalism. They aren’t deep, thoughtful prose. They aren’t poetry. And they certainly aren’t philosophical arguments to change the course of human history. Blogs, websites, fansites, and more, all of these have one thing in common: they need writers to fill the voids on the pages with words. And that’s where you come in.
Getting started as a freelance writing is easy. What’s your niche? Do you like wine? Food? Football? Birds? Pottery? Quantum physics? Polka dots? Zucchini? Gardening? Quilt-making? Crackers and caviar? All you need is a particular passion, something that you enjoy more than anything else, and you have something you can write about. Something you can make money from. You are a writer.
Content writers get a lot of flack from print authors. That’s natural. In my “The World is Your Oyster” series at my old blog I talked a lot about the threshing machine in England when it first came into play. Picture digital media and writers as the threshing machine. Prior to the advent of the Internet and the dawn of global communication, print writers owned the playing field. And the only way you could become a writer was by getting a journalism or creative writing degree and going through registered channels that required proof of education, membership in the club, and so on and so forth. These print writers are the laborers.
Now, back when the threshing machine first came onto the scene, the farmers loved it. In this case, the farmers are the consumers. The people who want to use the threshing machine. See, the threshing machine allowed them to move into the next part of the era. It allowed them to streamline production. They could suddenly produce twice as much grain in a shorter amount of time, and they didn’t have to have all these physical bodies working.
Now, of course the laborers didn’t like this. And who could blame them? For years they had been the only people capable of harvesting the grain in those fields. They had come to rely upon that income, and they had gotten used to being the top dog. Along comes this “machine” which replaces their value, and suddenly they are left without a job, while the farmers are using these new-fangled contraptions.
The labourers tried to revolt. They rose up in arms. They burned farm houses. Destroyed dozens of threshing machines and burned entire crops as a means of protesting against the advent of the new age. But you cannot stop human evolution. In the end, the threshing machine took the place of those workers. Eventually the threshing machine was taken over by new technology, and that new technology was replaced again, and the cycle continues.
Print writers are upset over the digital age because people like you and me have been able to enter into the playing field. We are the digitally-savvy writers. We write website content, we blog, we write e-books, and we are the threshing machine. We write without the constraints of the printed word because we are in the digital medium.
How do you get started on your path to being a successful freelance writer? Pick your niche. Maybe you enjoy writing about food. Maybe you are into vampire history. Or maybe you enjoy talking about flies and their mating habits. Either way, you have a specific area that you are knowledgeable and passionate about and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be making money off of that. There are millions of people on the Internet, and they all have something to say. Find someone that is hiring in your particular area of interest and go write something for them. It might be a small start, but it is a start nevertheless.
Freelance writing isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, but it is an easy way to make money. This is your hobby, after all. Getting paid to write about what you enjoy doing is like icing on the cake. One of the best examples I can give people is how I got my start: through video games. I grew up playing console games and MMORPG computer games, and I took that knowledge and applied to a website who was looking for people to write strategy guides for a couple of MMORPG games that I had played in the past. I had zero writing experience. I had no college degree. But what I did have was a passion for video games that gave me enough motivation to write about it, and after I’d spent some time with the editor I was able to refine my writing style, and with more skill and some sales under my belt I was able to move on to the next job and the next, each time looking for clients who wanted to hire someone to write about a topic I was passionate about.
Take what you know, and run with it.