The Advice I Wish I’d Had as a New Freelance Writer

Young Carol Tice checks out an early byline

Look honey, mommy’s a byline junkie!

Do you know what you’re looking at over there on the right? It’s a brand-new freelance writer looking at one of her very first clips.

On Thursdays, when the L.A. Reader came out, she would pack her new baby into the stroller, whip about eight blocks through the neighborhood trying to work off a bit of that post-pregnancy belly, and hit the nearest mini-mart to grab a copy.

Or three, as you can see if you take a close look.

Could she wait to get home to flip through the pages and find her byline?

Nope.

In case you haven’t guessed, that new freelance writer is me. (Dig the glasses! Never did stay up, so you can see me getting ready to give them yet another poke.)

I recently came across this photo in a little flipbook of my firstborn’s first year. Boy, did it bring back the memories. (That little squirt is 20 now.)

I had always wanted to be a singer/songwriter, but I had recently made an amazing discovery. I had found a type of writing that pays you, right away.

And I was hooked.

From the emails I get from new subscribers here, I know many of my blog readers are new freelance writers, too.

Seeing this photo made me wish I could send a letter back in time to help new-freelancer me overcome my fears and build my business faster. I had a slow slog of it, floundering around slowly figuring it out, with no connections or clue how freelancing worked.

Unfortunately, my time machine is broken, so I thought I’d leave this advice here for all of you who are in this place right now, just starting out.

Qualifications don’t matter

I spend years dogged by fears that as a college dropout, I was unqualified to be doing things like writing for the Los Angeles Times, which happened about nine months after I discovered journalism. Honestly, even after I won my paper a national award it had never gotten before in 25 years of publication, I was still waiting to get busted.

I wish someone would have told me right off that no one cares if you learned to write under a freeway overpass or at Columbia. If you can get the story and tell it so we want to read it, you’re in.

Often, I hear from writers with master’s degrees who still feel worried they’re not qualified! Stop it, all of you.

Find mentors

I had editors, but it took me a while to take full advantage of their knowledge. Within a year or two, though, I was haunting their offices asking them why they had changed my headline, or my lede. (Yes, that is how journos write it.)

I found three big mentors over the years, and they each taught me staggering amounts and moved my writing up a big notch. I’d probably be nowhere without tapping their expertise.

Write your way to where you want to go

Over the years, I would build a portfolio of clips, and use them to get into new publications I wanted. If you take assignments with an eye to where you want to go, you can pave your way there, on a road papered with your previous published work.

Dive in and be scared later

Honestly, looking back, I was too dumb to realize I should be terrified to take on a lot of the assignments I did over the years. Afterwards, I’d look back and think, “I probably should have never said I could do this!” But it always worked out okay.

Also, I left a lot of my hangups behind in songwriting. As long as I didn’t have to perform my article live in front of a bored audience, clad only in a too-short spandex dress, I was in heaven. Think of something scarier than writing an article, and it’ll be a breeze by comparison.

Develop niche expertise

I was going along, writing about this and that, getting paid a pittance. Then I got a gig writing about business, and found out it paid better to stay focused on niches within that area. But it took me quite a while to figure it out and to market myself as an expert in writing business topics. Once I did, things really took off.

Time will go fast, so stay focused

Once you get going, there will be a lot of opportunities. Some won’t be so great, others will be terrific. Be a little picky. Work with people who love what you do, on assignments you love, too.

When I look at that photo and think that two decades have gone by since I was that girl, it is hard to believe. It all went in a blink, I was having so much fun. And I never did end up writing for Vanity Fair…yet.

If you’ve got that novel you’re dying to write or a magazine that’s your dream, make sure you carve out time to go for it. Life will try its best to get in the way.

What advice have you got for new writers? Weigh in with yours in the comments.

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73 comments on “The Advice I Wish I’d Had as a New Freelance Writer
  1. Dave says:

    I noticed that store is the perfect place for newbie writers – they accept Food Stamps…

  2. Jaime says:

    In certain professions like writing you really don’t need a degree to work. Your portfolio can speak for you. My bf is a professional programmer and he doesn’t have a computer science degree. He got his first Jr programming job at 19. He’s 33 now.

    He has taken a few programming courses in college last year and has said that the classes don’t teach anything that goes on in real world programming. He is thinking of not returning to college. So it seems that in some fields there’s a clear disconnect between what you learn in college and what you actually do on the job.

    I believe you can be a successful freelancer without a degree. I know a freelance web designer who has been freelancing full-time since 2002! She didn’t graduate from college either. While credentials can be nice, they are not necessary.

    Thanks for telling freelancers to not sell themselves short, from what I’ve seen, too many people often do and regret it.

  3. Lauren says:

    ADORED this post, Carol! <3

    The part about "qualifications don't matter" rang especially true for me. (I'm a college drop-out as well).

    Sharing this immediately!
    Lauren recently posted…Thinking of Yourself as a ProductMy Profile

  4. Hi Carol, I really like this post. Especially the first bit of advice that it does not matter where we learned to write as long as we can do it. I was kind of busy this weekend and catching up on reading. I missed the reminder emails and the link party. Bummer. I marked for the next one which according to my calendar will be right after the 4th of July.
    Thanks again for the encouragement.
    Peter D. Mallett recently posted…Free Resources – Sparkling Gems of the InternetMy Profile

  5. Agreed, agreed, agreed! Especially with your last comment to Codruta. The only thing I really wish I had was a mentor because the other points are all ongoing stuff I’m working on. I’m a bit of a lone ranger I’m afraid but looking to work on that. Thanks Carol.
    Kirsty Stuart recently posted…How to Use Pinterest to Promote Your Freelance Writing BusinessMy Profile

  6. Codruta says:

    Hi Carol,
    Thank you for your advice – it sounds very much like that fabulous formula “I was there, and I did that and that, and now I am here and looking back I can tell…”. I love the fact that you let us identify (possibly) with that you in the picture and let us dream that maybe we could become the present you.

    “Qualifications don’t matter” – well I have to keep that in front of my eyes all the time as well, I have education, even in the field of writing, but everytime I have to take an action, to write the ABOUT section, or my profile, or anything under my name hinting of what I do, I am afraid to write that I am a writer. I start thinking about my inexistent clients and publications, I am thinking that I qualified myself only as a mother of two recently…but now I am trying hard to stop this thought before it even takes shape. And you know what I tell myself? “Get your but to work, Codruta, and stop finding excuses!!!”.

    I will put down all your pieces of advice – I noticed that no matter what you do you have got to put down important things, otherwise they somehow fly out of your head, disappear, and then you are as “lost” as before reading the advice.
    Codruta recently posted…The list of objectives IS A MUSTMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Codruta —

      Bad news: You’ll never become the present me.

      You can only become the future you.

      Each of our writing careers is unique and comes from our life experiences and our unique writing abilities.

      I hate it when degreed writers tell me they still don’t feel qualified! Ask yourself WHY you are afraid to say you’re a writer, even to yourself, on your own website. What’s the worst that could happen if you put yourself out there? I’m going to bet whatever it is, no lives would be lost. πŸ˜‰ So go for it.

  7. Jordan Clary says:

    I got trapped in the education deal for a while. I got my masters because I had to support my family and fell for the ‘fall back on teaching’ if writing didn’t work. Back then I had no idea about copywriting or writing for businesses. I thought the only options were articles. A few years ago, just when freelancing was starting to take off, I got divorced, moved to a small town and was really excited about finally being just me and writing full time, when I got a phone call asking me to teach at the local community college. Big mistake, and I feel like I lost both two years and a shot of confidence. But it’s coming back. And so am I.

    • Carol Tice says:

      One of the first things to learn as a freelancer is just because somebody asks you to do something, doesn’t mean you should.

      Maybe teaching helped you get through a transitional period — but then it’s time to get back to your own goals.

  8. Carol,

    It’s posts like this that continually lead me back to your blog day after day after day. I might not comment on every post, but I’m devouring the content and making strides every day to further my freelance writing career.

    Here’s my biggest takeaway from this post – Qualifications don’t matter. Wow! I’ve been sweating (profusely) the fact that I’m going to get caught by the journalism police for not having a degree. I still feel strange calling myself a writer because I don’t have decades of experience under my belt. What I do have, after one year of writing, is 20+ newspaper articles and a brand new website where I can showcase my work.

    Thanks again for putting my mind at ease and my fears to rest.

    And thanks for being courageous enough to post a picture of yourself from 20 years ago. Honestly, you look great!
    Colleen Conger recently posted…The Potent Blend of Inspiration and FearMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      My pleasure, Colleen! And kudos on building a nice print portfolio — those clips give you a lot of cred. You can pitch anybody from there.

      Believe me, I had the dropout syndrome for way too long. There is no Universal Editor Tom-Tom Network to notify the world we can’t do it. If it’s on the page, you got it.

  9. Ahlam says:

    Carol!

    I love the photo. It feels so relevant. I had #3 in March and have come back to writing (during my maternity leave). I will always come back to writing … I’ve missed your blog and have been dropping in lately and love what’s going on!

    Onward!

  10. Mandisa says:

    Hi Carol,

    I just wanted to say thank you for this — it’s just what I needed to hear today!

    I love your blog, with all of its encouragement and practical, warts-and-all advice.

  11. Marsha Stopa says:

    Great advice, as usual.

    I still want to see the photo of the singer/songerwriter in the too-short spandex dress. πŸ˜€

  12. Karen says:

    Hi, Carol; I’ve got a journalistic question: who took the pic, and how did you get it? This was before someone could e-mail it to your smartphone. Great post. Karen

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m fairly sure my husband must have taken the shot, with old-timey print film. The irony is our scanner is broken, so of course to get it onto the post he took a picture of the print (after I discovered it in the old album) with his iphone and then emailed it to me! Looks pretty good considering.

  13. That picture flashes me back to my first few articles being published! The stroller and everything. (I had to get 3 papers, too: one for my mom and one for my grandmom in addition to my own.)

    You advice is great–especially about not telling yourself you’re not qualified and about getting mentors. Boy, do I wish I’d done the latter earlier.

    Here’s my advice:

    1) Try a lot of different things and accept that you will suck at some of them. You might be surprised at what clicks. Which leads me to…2) If you suck at something, don’t give up away. Revision can teach you SO much. Which leads me to…3) Work with other writers and get feedback to improve. A really good writing group (with no judgmental jerks and lots of different genres included) is priceless.
    Rebecca Klempner recently posted…How to plot your storyMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I love #1. I did a lot of funky gigs. At one point, I was indexing a reference book for USC every year. Weird! But lucrative. But I didn’t love it and want to make it my career.

      But definitely, explore.

  14. Hermine says:

    Hi Carol,

    Are you trying to tell me something? Ha, or maybe it’s the universe because it feels like I’ve been honing in on this idea of writing for magazines a lot more lately.

    And again, you’ve hit a nerve on the things that have kept me away from doing so – namely my lack of “qualification” for what it’s worth. I really need to just suck it up and give it a shot, maybe try a smaller lesser known mag that would be easier to get into at first and get my feet wet.

    There’s a ton of topics I think I want to try and explore writing more about too, so maybe a magazine article would be a nice way to do that… It would definitely be the litmus test to see how far my writing has come since I started almost a year ago.
    Hermine recently posted…6 Best Practices for a Freaking Awesome “About” PageMy Profile

  15. Karen S says:

    Carol- I love this one. Especially the dive in first and be scared later part. It is truly more frightening how quickly time passes!
    Great article. And the cute picture didn’t hurt either. πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice says:

      Cute? I look soooo fat in that picture that I almost didn’t want to put it up, but I knew everybody would get a kick out of seeing me feasting my eyes on that early byline.

      I love that I’m taking 3 copies of it…I’m so excited and proud! I want to hug myself. OK, I will!

      I also love Evan’s expression. He’s like, “I’m chillin’ ‘coz mommy’s a writer. She’s cool. So am I. Got me some fingers to suck on and life’s awesome.”

  16. Heather says:

    Thanks for the post, Carol. My academic advisor told me I had to do something “practical” to support my writing habit. Well, here I am (I won’t say exactly how many years later!), and I’ve had no success with a darn thing that other people found practical. I’ve had some modest success with my writing IN SPITE of not treating it as a job. From now on, I’m going to write like crazy.

    • I originally went to college to become a teacher. Not because I wanted to be a teacher, but because it was a “safe” alternative to being a “writer.” For one of my education classes, I had to interview a former teacher. So I interviewed my former speech and drama coach from high school, since she was a great mentor.

      Once the interview was over, I asked if she had any questions. She said, “Yes. I do. Shannon, why do you want to teach?”

      I thought about it for a few minutes, and replied, “Well, teaching provides summer’s off work, so I could concentrate on my writing.”

      She leaned forward. “Do you want to teach, or do you want to write?”

      I lowered my head and said softly, “I know it’s not a steady job, but I really want to write.” I looked up, expecting to see disappointment on her face (why, I still don’t know to this day)…instead, she was smiling.

      “Then be a writer,” she said, rather emphatically. “Don’t be a teacher unless you really want to teach. Trust me.”

      I went back to college after that weekend and changed my major to English. The next semester, I picked up a second major in Journalism.

      You know, Heather, my academic adviser in college told me the same thing yours told you! Pick a “safe” career. I shouldn’t have listened to him. I should have taken my drama/speech coach’s words completely to heart.

      And now… I am.
      Shannon Davis-George recently posted…A Good Paleo DinnerMy Profile

      • There’s a saying, “No one is ever successful at a job she hates.” Those who take the “practical” path (or any other) against their instincts because everyone else said to, are the ones who have the hardest time keeping a job. And even if they do keep it, they’re also the ones with the high rates of hypertension, major depression, and a plethora of other health and relationship failures.
        Katherine Swarts recently posted…Confused and MisusedMy Profile

      • Kalen says:

        Hey Shannon,

        I originally went to school to study engineering and wanted to be an entrepreneur. I think a lot of people migrate into writing. I do not think this is because it is a fall back career, but rather because it is their calling and they just don’t know it when they are in school. It is something that they evolve into in a way.

        Kalen
        Kalen recently posted…Plagiarism is Not Guest Blogging People!My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      No…MARKET like crazy. πŸ˜‰ That’s what turns the writing into what supports your lifestyle. πŸ˜‰

      • Heather says:

        OK, Carol, I will send queries and LOIs out like crazy. πŸ˜‰ Come to think of it, I should have listened to my favorite high school teacher, too! What a wonderful lady she was.

  17. Jim Kim says:

    Great read! My advice to fellow new jack freelancers: it’s not going to write itself.

    If you don’t write it, somebody else will.

    You learn more by doing than not even trying.

    Thanks for helping us find the path to success, Carol!

  18. Jonan says:

    Seeing my byline on my own blog makes me excited. It would be more exciting to see it even on community paper. This post makes me consider sending proposals to local dailies.

    I always see myself as lacking qualification and here comes your advice that “Qualifications don’t matter” and I must believe you for you’re speaking through experience.

    This post and all the other Make A Living Writing articles encourage me to continue with my passion for writing. I hibernated for a while but opportunities for online writing came along and it seems I’m back “with a vengeance”. Thank you Carol for the advice.
    Jonan recently posted…The Advantages of Excellent Community Management in Social Media MarketingMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Nice to see you back, Jonan!

      There’s a reason that is the first tip on the post. I think it was the biggest thing holding me back.

      I’m still sort of slow to pick up on the idea that I have cred and could write anywhere.

      At one point more than a YEAR after I started guesting for Copyblogger I went, “Hm, wonder if I could guest anywhere else?” I did a list of like a dozen other places I would like to try. And they all said yes.

      Duh! Once you guest for one big blog, you’re golden. But you have to realize the door is open.

      I meet lots of journalists who say, well, I only have newspaper clips so I guess I can’t write for magazines. What? We throw up all these barriers because we don’t feel qualified. I’m always saying the big problem isn’t the economy…it’s between our ears.

  19. Kara says:

    “Often, I hear from writers with master’s degrees who still feel worried they’re not qualified! Stop it, all of you.” Haha! This is totally me. Thanks for all the great advice. *Kara
    Kara recently posted…Shuffle, Snort, CryMy Profile

  20. LOVE this post. These are almost the exact same things I would tell myself if I could go back in time. When I first started I wrote for the daily newspaper on a freelance basis and I would often wait in my living room to hear the plunk of the newspaper in the driveway so I could see my stories as soon as possible.

    I completely agree with the dive in and be scared later. I find the scariest moment in writing (even now) is when I get a new gig, not getting rejected or trying to convince someone I can do it. I call it my “put my money where my mouth is moment.” But like you, it has always worked out. But I often go into a complete panic when an editor says yes to a gig I have coveting, even 5 years into this adventure.

    The other advice that I totally agree with is taking assignments with an eye on where you want to go. Whenever possible, I try to pitch stories that I can use to leverage as clips into another marketing. I write for a hospitality publication and wanted to get into some workforce management publication, so I pitched several HR stories to my regular editor. I am now using those clips to hopefully land a new market. I honestly think this planning has made a huge difference.
    What’s the Strangest Place You’ve Ever…….? recently posted…What is the Typical Rate for Content Marketing Writing?My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Man, there’s nothing like early byline excitement. I’m in X MAGAZINE!!! It’s so exciting. I never wanted it to stop, so it hasn’t! Even when I got my first post on Copyblogger just a few years ago, I felt the same way. So EXCITING!

      I hope the thrill of publication never wears off, for me or anyone else.

      PS – put your name rather than your blog name in the Name spot on my blog, Jennifer — you’re lucky this didn’t go into spam.

  21. I’m no veteran, but my advice would be don’t wait until your website is perfect. This was my biggest downfall. Just get the thing up, and tweak it as you go along. Although I’m not super pleased with my site, am not ashamed to send potential clients to it.
    Janet Thomson recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

    • I concur. I am not entirely happy with my website but I’m happy with it for now. Will improve and change later on. For now, at least its a place for people to be directed to and see what I’m about.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Absolutely! I’ve mentored so many writers and a year later, they’re still working with some fancy-pants ‘designer’ and feel their site isn’t ready to publish yet. And I’m thinking, “Noooooooo!”

      Because people don’t like to market before their site is up, and then that’s a year of no marketing. Just press “publish” and improve from there.

    • Erica says:

      True true true! My first site was awful but I ran with it anyway. I’ve just redone my new site and even though it’s tons better than my old site, there’s still a lot I want to change. Am I running with it anyway? Oh yeah.

      “Perfect” is too rare a commodity to wait.
      Erica recently posted…1 year older, 1 year wiserMy Profile

      • I’m in the same spot. My current site isn’t so much “awful” as a pretty poor reflection of my current brand desire. More specifically, the visuals and widgets are pretty good; but beyond the first paragraph, it’s pretty much a bunch of “I’ll do anything”–which is probably the real reason it does so poorly on SEO.

        I would add that a lot of us perfectionists spend an hour analyzing the problems for every minute spent actively working on solutions!
        Katherine Swarts recently posted…Confused and MisusedMy Profile

  22. Erica says:

    Carol, this is one of my favorite posts. And I’m diggin’ those glasses. πŸ™‚

    My biggest pieces of advice would be to treat your business as a business, not a hobby with flex time. To market smartly and aggressively. And to know your value and charge accordingly. I didn’t and that’s why I’m back in a cube (for now).
    Erica recently posted…1 year older, 1 year wiserMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Ugh, sorry to hear about the cubicle, Erica!

      And thanks for adding a VITAL piece of information. I always had the instinct that this was a business, and a hunger to run it like one. As I began covering business, it just gave me more grounding in that world, and I think that was a huge advantage, especially when I began freelancing in ’05 and really need to make some serious money as a freelancer. On my first stint back in the times of that photo, if I billed $2,000 in a month life was great! Expenses were low.

      You really need the business focus once you’ve got a house, 3 kids, etc…and you’re the main breadwinner.

      • I can relate to Erica’s dilemma. Not treating my freelance business as a business sent me right back into a cubicle for a couple of years, as well. Now the cubicle is going away, and I’m ready to jump in with both feet back into freelancing.

        Having a mentor helps a lot! And making a list of goals with deadlines really helps, as well. I do have a question about business plan…how extensive does a business plan for a freelance writing business need to be, since it’s a service-based business? A lot of the business plan advice I keep seeing involves selling a product. Is there a difference?
        Shannon Davis-George recently posted…No More SADMy Profile

        • Looking for the right cubicle and looking for writing work have more in common than you might think: both involve a LOT of self-marketing; both require you to make lots of good impressions on lots of people; and both involve a great deal of “no’s” on the way to “yes.” The primary difference is that with “cubicle” work, one “yes” will sustain you on its own for a year or two at least–while with writing, you have to keep it up continually even when your annual earnings hit $100,000.

          (It may not be that much of a difference these days at that. A so-called “secure” job is hardly guaranteed to last for years anymore, and there are plenty of sad stories about those who found themselves suddenly jobless and realized the market requirements had moved on while they weren’t looking!)
          Katherine Swarts recently posted…Confused and MisusedMy Profile

  23. Crystalee says:

    Carol, what a fun blast from your past. Thank you for sharing these hard-won words of wisdom. I’m so glad I found you as an “online” mentor. Although we haven’t met personally, between devouring your posts and interviewing you for my own blog, I feel more than confident you’re someone who’s teaching me “staggering amounts.”

    Thank you!
    Crystalee recently posted…Marketing yourself? Get ink and get out.My Profile

  24. The ‘dive in and be scared later’ bit sounds a lot like where I’m at at the moment!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I feel lucky that I was too stupid to be scared of what I was doing. I was able to leave my phobias behind in songwriting, which had been the thing I was obsessed with as a young teen…and then I was too stressed and it was TOO IMPORTANT, and I couldn’t really do it! I physically couldn’t perform, I was so tense I’d go hoarse right away.

      I look back now and wonder what made me EVER think I could write for the L.A. Times with NO reporting background…but somehow, it happened. The editor liked my writing and was willing to teach me. Everybody needs to find somebody like that.

  25. I am in love with your glasses!

    I think it’s so important that new freelancers learn not to wait until everything is perfect before they get started. Just jump! You can read and read and read and still not get everything perfect your first few times out – or even your first hundred. We all learn as we go and I’d be willing to guess that despite your long and successful career, you’re still learning how to do things a little better each and every day.

    Seriously – the glasses. Tell me you still have those frames. Those bad boys are back in style!
    Prudence Shank recently posted…A Simple Business Plan for New Freelance WritersMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Wow, your dork is showing then! πŸ˜‰ I don’t think I still have them, sorry. Hopefully donated long ago.

      And I am DEFINITELY still learning every day, and trying to become a better writer. A more concise one would be great, too. I’m in awe of Liz Strauss’s great blog posts, and how they’re almost like haikus they’re so short.

  26. Amandah says:

    Mentors and coaches are important. If I could go back to 2008, I would have sat down with a business and writing mentor/coach and formulated a plan for my freelance writing business because it is a business. I would have a created a short business plan instead of sending out cover letters, resumes, and letters of introductions ‘willy nilly.’ I would have joined the ‘right’ networking groups and connected with the ‘right’ people from the start.

    Oh well… Today, I’m working with a business coach. Better late than never.
    Amandah recently posted…What’s the Secret Recipe for Making Content Viral?My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, that’s the point of this post — I didn’t do everything right off the bat. In fact, I have an upcoming post about how my first real article assignment got killed…and how I survived that and still built a career. We all figure it out fast as we can…

  27. Willi Morris says:

    I haven’t quite “niched” yet. Honestly, I’m starting to think that I’m going to “niche at not niching” LOL although I do favor profiles.

    My advice? Always follow-up! I wouldn’t recommend following up more than twice, but it has gotten my gigs.
    Willi Morris recently posted…A New Beginning – Welcome to My Freelance Life.comMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Willi, niches only arise from doing a lot of writing…that’s how you see where the marketplace responds to you. I probably wrote hundreds of articles before I went, “Gee, seems like the real estate and business-finance ones pay the best…I should do more of that!” You can’t decide without data.

      A lot of writers spend too much time worrying about their positioning and not enough time writing assignments. Just get out there and keep finding clients! You’ll quickly see where you fit.

  28. John Soares says:

    Carol, mentors are so important. Some of my earliest outdoors writing was nearly 20 years ago for the Chico News & Review, an independent weekly in Chico, California. My editor had me do significant rewrites of my articles and it definitely made me a better writer.
    John Soares recently posted…Freelance Writers, Please Do Me a Quick FavorMy Profile

  29. Daryl says:

    Carol,

    I would pay to see you in that spandex dress.

    That is all.

    Daryl
    Daryl recently posted…Why Business Owners Want to Be β€œFramed”My Profile

  30. Hi Carol

    To me, your point that qualifications don’t matter not only applies to writers who don’t feel they’re qualified enough.

    It also applies to those who feel they actually are.

    Too many people come out of college or university and somehow feel they’re entitled to that writing gig just because they have a related degree or something.

    But the harsh reality is that you’ve still got to show that you can get the story and tell it so we want to read it. Then, as you say, you’re in.
    Kevin Carlton recently posted…5 reasons why rookie copywriters should only blog once a monthMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s so true. I’ve edited the work of writers with master’s degrees from writing programs who were utterly unable to get the job done. Or they don’t have the people skills to deal with editors and interviews.

      I’ll never forget this one MA-degree writer that got hired at my first staff job. She lasted 3 months. She was supposed to meet up with us at a big trade show in Chicago. She never showed up and we never heard from her again! She literally RAN screaming. Could NOT hack it.

      The more I work with degreed writers in my mentoring program, the more angry I get about what goes on in these programs. It seems like they exist in some kind of weird bubble apart from the world. I’ve been told by more than one writer that they were informed straight out that nobody makes a living as a writer, and they should think about teaching. The end.

      What a crime! And a waste of money. Then they have to get coaching from someone like me to deprogram them from all the negativity they got in college. Ridiculous. Why don’t they teach writers how to write a query letter, or have freelancers come talk? The world where everyone got a job at a newspaper out of school is over for 90% of writers now. Makes me mad.

      • Carol

        Gotta admit it took a fair few years for me to properly snap out of that debilitating pedagogic state of mind. Some never do.

        It does seem to me, as you sort of suggest, that a long time studying in the education system very often renders people only good for one thing – working back in the education system.
        Kevin Carlton recently posted…5 reasons why rookie copywriters should only blog once a monthMy Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          I know! It’s ridiculous…there ought to be at least some orientation toward preparing writers for the WORLD…and that world has changed a lot. Schools should keep up.

      • Interesting you mention “deprogramming,” or the unlearning of bad ideas. Even more this talk on education vs. real life, which is an issue with several families I know right now. Their kids get a degree, head out into the job market with no knowledge beyond how to show up often enough and assemble facts well enough to get a good grade, find job market and entrepreneurship foreign territory, and wind up living at their parents’ house for two or three years waiting for something to turn up. Why don’t universities include personalized long-term career planning and right-attitude training among their graduation requirements?
        Katherine Swarts recently posted…Confused and MisusedMy Profile

    • Here’s a quote I made up in reference to that type: “He has all the makings of a great writer; the trouble is, he thinks he’s one already.” No one wants to work with the person who is sure he has nothing to learn from anybody.
      Katherine Swarts recently posted…Confused and MisusedMy Profile

  31. Hi Carol,
    Absolutely love this glimpse back in time to your new mommy (and freelancing)days!
    Thanks for always finding a way to tell us we can do it, too!
    PS Had great fun participating in the Link Party. Thank you for having it!
    Sincerely,
    Danielle Olivia Tefft

    • Carol Tice says:

      I love doing the link parties, Danielle! And it is a real trip back in time for me, looking at this picture. SO much lay ahead. I couldn’t have imagined that in a few years I’d have a staff writing job and make a real income with benefits just from writing…not in a million years!

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