How A New Freelance Writer Got $3,000 in Assignments - Make a Living Writing

How A New Freelance Writer Got $3,000 in Assignments

Carol Tice | 14 Comments

By Christy Corp-Minamiji

The leap from large animal veterinarian to freelance writer isn’t exactly intuitive.

So I’ve heard the question, ““How did you go from there to writing?” quite a lot in the past four months.

Granted, I don’t use the shoulder-length gloves these days (if you have to ask, you don’t want to know), and my laptop hasn’t tried to kick me recently, but the skill-set overlap is greater than you might think.

In both cases, I have to present myself as an authority even when I don’t feel like one, communication means everything, and the primary requirement is the ability to synthesize a coherent narrative from disparate pieces of information.

Still, I’ve often let negative messages paralyze me. You know the ones…

  • Writers’ guidelines – I know they’re there to weed out the faint of heart and the totally incompetent.  But I’ve often had the feeling they’re saying “Yeah, you, Christy.  We’re talking about you.  Don’t even bother.”
  • Other “failed” writers – It amazed me how many people came out of the woodwork with stories about how they used to freelance and no one they knew could make a go of it.
  • Blogging intimidation – The medium is changing, no question. But the mixed messages regarding digital media, the state of print, social media, pro-blogging, anti-blogging, SEO, and almost everything else pertaining to the printed or pixilated word are terrifying to a newbie.

Various factors in my personal life have colluded to make my writing business a sink-or-swim effort.  Nothing like desperation to give you a swift kick in the pants.

I was at that point when I signed up for the Freelance Writer’s Blast-Off! class taught by Carol Tice of this blog and Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer.

At the time, I had one magazine client offering me fairly steady assignments, but the $450 feature every couple of months doesn’t pay a lot of bills.  And the occasional $50 gig for the local newspaper doesn’t even cover a tank of gas.

My website was like my singing voice.  I could tell it wasn’t working, but I had no idea how to fix it.

Fortunately, the Blast-off course turned out to be exactly what I needed to turn the corner.  Carol and Linda helped us see the potential in our own backgrounds and experiences, and how to have confidence in our ability to use that knowledge in our writing.

I learned about markets to target that I didn’t even know existed.

Our websites were reviewed and we were given actual, real advice on how to improve them.

Most importantly, they made it clear:

There isn’t a secret password.

The real writers aren’t sitting around in a private clubhouse somewhere, laughing at the rest of us.

The formula is simple.

Those who work every day — who take concrete steps toward learning, writing, and marketing — those are the successful freelance writers.

Since taking Carol and Linda’s course:

  • I’ve had several requests for clips on letters of introduction I sent to markets I would never have thought of on my own.
  • I’ve gained a new magazine client (two assignments underway) by following up on a referral from a colleague
  • A couple days after an occasional blogging client emailed to compliment me on my new website, he called with an offer of three feature articles for his site at $1000/article.
  • At this point, I’d estimate that my investment in the course has grossed a 16-fold return.

And I’ve learned there’s no secret handshake. Just a lot of footwork.

At least now, I know the steps.

Christy Corp-Minamiji is a freelance writer and former large animal veterinarian.

14 comments on “How A New Freelance Writer Got $3,000 in Assignments

  1. Danielle McGaw on

    Wow – what an inspiration Christy. I just don’t even know what to say. I think it might be time for me to rethink some of my strategies. And maybe take the course already!

  2. Joshua Monen on

    Christy, thanks for the encouragement. I like that you addressed all the negative voices out there — I’ve heard my fair share as well. You’re right, there is no secret password or shortcut. Being a freelance writer is rewarding but it’s hard work too.

  3. Ruth Zive on

    I agree – desperation is one of the greatest motivators! I always fancied myself a writer, but wouldn’t leave my salaried job (in non profit marketing) since I had too many bills to pay. But I finally realized that unless I had the courage to take the risk, I would never actually be a writer. And the desperation generated from taking the risk is what ultimately made it happen. I still have a long way to go, but at least I now feel that I’m on the right path.

  4. Christy Corp-Minamiji on

    Thanks guys! And Lori, thanks for the link! I’ll have to check it out. I’m definitely not anywhere near where I need/want to be yet, but there seems to be consistent forward momentum. Having a class like this one where I felt accountable (at least to myself) to follow through made a huge difference. And, at least, I always have this thought to fall back on (based on my past career-life): An editor may reject my query, but at least he/she won’t kick me, bite me, or run me over!

    • Carol Tice on

      Great perspective, Christy!

      I used to perform live as a songwriter, and before going on I would calm my jitters by remembering that 1 billion Chinese could care less whether I suck tonight.

      Truly, you won’t die from nearly anything you attempt in freelance writing.

  5. Lori on

    Christy,

    Just came across this in my web travels, thought it might be of interest.
    Animal Wellness, Suite 202, 160 Charlotte St. Peterborough, ON K9J 2T8, Canada. P(866)764-1212. F(705)742-4596. Email: ann-at-redstonemediagroup.com. Website: http://www.animalwellnessmagazine.com. Ann Brightman, Managing Editor. “We focus on holistic and integrative health care for dogs and cats — including diet, behavior, emotional well being, health conditions, fitness, lifestyle, trends, etc.” 30%-40% freelance. Welcomes new writers. Circ. over 1 million. Animal Wellness is bi-monthly; Feline Wellness is quarterly. Pays on publication. Buys first rights only. No reprints. For sample, call or visit the website. Subscription $19 US; $24 Canadian; digital subscription is $12. Guidelines available online at: http://www.animalwellnessmagazine.com/p/awsubmit.htm.
    CURRENT NEEDS: “Good writers who have an interest in and some knowledge about dogs and cats and natural/holistic health. For Feline Wellness, we are looking for good cat writers. Pays $50-$160 for 500-1500 words, depending on length and content.” Submit via email, with detailed query, writing samples, and bio.
    PHOTOS/ART: “Varies, depending on the article.”
    HINTS: “The most common mistake is writers not familiarizing themselves with our publications before submitting something. I highly recommend people read several back issues to get an idea of the type, tone and length of articles we publish before submitting a query or article. Having to deal with queries from people who obviously have never read our magazines is time-consuming and even insulting.”

  6. Susan on

    There are no shortcuts in becoming successful freelance writers, I agree that it requires a lot of work. Your desire to learn and improve your way of living is very inspiring indeed Christy. You saw that there was something wrong and accepted that you needed help. The results after taking the course are amazing. Thank you for sharing this information, I hope I become as successful as you are now.

  7. Lori on

    Christy,

    I am thrilled for you! As a classmate in that same class, what a happy moment when I read this post. You and your story are so motivating for all of us and definitely a tribute to the class. It’s one thing, and a good thing, to sign up for a class and read up on how to move forward, but it’s a huge thing to actually act on the advice. The fear, as you mention, is so awful and you overcame it. What a great payoff. I know it will continue and I wish you all the best. I can say, I knew her when…

  8. Devon Ellington on

    Good for you! It’s absolutely true — when that’s the way you’re paying the bills, and you don’t have someone else’s income or a “day job” to fall back on, you go out and do it. No excuses.

    Congrats — I’m always delighted when a fellow freelancer finds the way. It’s a much better and more interesting quality of life.

    And, kudos for not falling into the content mill pit!

  9. TrafficColeman on

    If you dig deep into any niche, you will find things that your can take advantage of. So make the career change that will bring you happiness.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  10. Nicola Parry on

    Christy, that’s fantastic news, congratulations! I think anyone who has ever started writing has had those paralyzing voices in their head at some stage. You’re so correct too about success requiring a lot of footwork & effort to propel yourself forward. Amazing how fruitful those referrals can be. So pleased for you, and I wish you continued great success!

  11. Wade Finnegan on

    Christy, I couldn’t agree more. The Blast-Off course is a great way to boost your career and is way more affordable than one on one mentoring. Next, you add in the Writer’s Den and you have great support system. It’s tough to overcome self doubt, but Carol and Linda give you the tools to succeed. Thanks for sharing and writing an excellent post.

    I recently blogged about the Blast-Off course, you can view it here: Quality Writing: Launch Your Freelance Writing Career http://t.co/MrKQzJW

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