Freelance writing is a line of work cloaked in mystery. It seems like during the past few economically depressed years, myths about freelance writing have only multiplied. So today I want to take some time to blow up the harmful myths that hold writers back.
Here are some of the biggest freelance-writing myths, in my view:
- You have to have connections to get started. I knew absolutely nobody and found my first editors by entering contests.
- You need a degree in journalism, English, or a related field. Speaking as an N.D. — that’s No Degree, people — I am living proof it’s a lie. My take: You go to J-school for the relationship-building, but when it comes to writing I’ve yet to meet an editor who cared whether I learned my craft at an elite school or under a freeway overpass. Either you’ve got it on the page, or you don’t.
- You have to put in years as a staff writer to make it as a freelancer. I know quite a few writers who never took a staff job and are doing just fine, thanks.
- You have to be in a major American city to earn well. Not hardly — I have great-earning writers in my mentoring program who live in small towns, and I’m hearing from writers around the world who are finding great clients, too.
- If your editor leaves, then you’ll never write for that publication again. I know so many writers who bought into this one, slinking away after the editor they knew for years got the ax and never trying to build a relationship with their replacement. Meanwhile, I’m on editor number four at some of my markets.
- You’ve got to start at the bottom and slowly work your way up in pay. The first business I wrote for was a small startup — and the second was a global, $1 billion company. Now and then, new writers get assignments from Top 20 magazines their first time out, too.
- If you write for companies, then you can’t write for journalistic-type publications. I used to think this too, until I asked a writer-friend who I worked with on a Seattle Times special section where else she wrote. Answer: Ford Motor Co.! The only thing you can’t do is write about the companies you get paid by in those journalistic publications while pretending you don’t also work for the companies. That’s a no-no.
- Self-publishing your own ebooks is lame and you’re not a ‘real’ author. Some of the hottest names on the Internet are publishing their own books now, including top blogger Leo Babauta, who self-published his most recent book, focus.
- You have a lot of free time. Ha! Not if you’re marketing your business and trying to earn a real serious income. As Seattle entrepreneur Mark Lacas says in the new movie SHINE: The Entrepreneur’s Journey, when you’re in business for yourself, you’re free to work any hours you want — as long as it’s every waking hour. Especially when you’re getting started.
- Blogging is not really writing. The heck it ain’t! Blog posts are routinely turned into books, or used to sell products (see below). If that’s not real writing, I don’t know what is.
Did I leave any myths out? Feel free to add to my list in the comments!
Speaking of blogging, it’s the last day to register for my upcoming Webinar, 30 Design & Content Secrets to Skyrocket Your Blog, and still get your very own blog included in the presentation! Got to cut this off so we can start planning the event. We’re almost out of slots for this special offer anyway, so don’t delay.
Photo via stock.xchng user ozdv8