Has your writing income dwindled in recent years? If so, it’s a good bet you’ve been earning much of your money through article writing.
You may have noticed many local newspapers and magazines are shrinking their article wordcounts–and their pay. I meet a lot of sad former staff journalists who’re worried about how they’ll earn in the future.
That’s not an irrational fear, either. A recent study I did of about 250 established freelance writers showed 70 percent of them were article writers. And that article writing was one of their best-paid gigs.
What did that pencil out to, in dollars, this great article-writing pay? Nearly half said they earn under $20,000 a year from writing. Another 20 percent earned $20,000-$30,000. In all, most of these article writers weren’t earning much.
Gah! This makes me hopping mad.
That’s because article writing can be seriously lucrative — it’s the bulk of the work I’ve done as a freelance writer, including years where I earned six figures. But you have to know where to look for better pay.
The Internet has made some things about building a freelance career as a writer a lot easier.
You can investigate what a magazine has recently written, for instance. Or find an editor on LinkedIn.
But in other ways, our Information Age has caused problems for writers.
I know because I keep hearing comments from new freelance writers like this:
“There’s so much to know and the world of freelance writing is rapidly changing. I feel so behind and don’t know how I’ll ever catch up. Can you help?”
Does that sound anything like the voice inside your head?
Wondering if can really jump in and build a freelance career as a writer, even though you don’t know everything right now?
I do have a tip on that.
Note: Ever wonder what the difference is between writing an article and writing a blog post? It’s a topic that comes up a lot. Besides style and research, you might be surprised by one of the key differences between blogs and articles. And it’s why I decided to share this post again. Enjoy! —Carol.
There’s a lot of confusion out there in the freelance-writing world today about blog posts and articles. Also, about what each of those types of writing should pay.
Recently, I got a lot of response to my call for freelance writers to stop writing blog posts. Many writers were confused about just what the difference is.
So let’s discuss. Because things are changing. And understanding the differences between these two writing forms will help you earn more.
For years, blog posts and nonfiction articles were distinctly different:
It’s rare that I meet a freelance writer who thinks their writing is good enough. It’s not just that you want to know how to improve your writing, either — you want to know how to do it in a hurry.
Ideally, quick enough to get you some better-paying freelance writing gigs, real soon.
It seems no one wants to become a strong writer the way I did it — namely, to file 3-4 stories each and every week, like I did for 12 years. Or to write 72 blog posts a month, like I did when I got back into freelance writing in 2005.
Everybody wants a shortcut. OK then! I think there are a few.
Here are my top seven ways to quickly improve your writing:
Ever wasted hours doing article research for a query or assignment?
It happens, especially if you don’t know where to look.
If you’re not getting anywhere with your approach to article research (which probably starts with Google for almost everybody), ask an expert on how to find the information you need.
And just where are you going to find an expert on article research? At the library.
Libraries (all 119,487 of them in the United States, according to the American Library Association) are packed with resources to help freelancers work smarter and faster.
And at every one, you’ll find a reference librarian who knows the ins and outs of article research better than you.
In a recent Freelance Writers Den podcast, we talked with Emily-Jane Dawson. She’s a reference librarian for the Multnomah County Library system in Portland, Ore. And she shared some of her best article research tips for freelancers.
Looking for information to beef up a query letter, pitch a prospect, or complete an assignment?
Check out these article research tips from a savvy reference librarian:
If you want to improve your article writing skills, the Central Intelligence Agency probably isn’t your first place to look.
Yes. I’m talking about that CIA. The organization that feeds the President and senior officials information to keep us safe. I was an intelligence analyst for the CIA for 8 years, and spent most of my time writing for top policy makers.
Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes at the CIA?
It’s not exactly like living in a Jason Bourne movie. But there is a lot of information that requires article writing skills to keep people informed. Along the way, I uncovered article writing secrets at the CIA that helped me go from analyst to full-time freelancer.
It wasn’t easy. In this high pressure environment, I quickly learned to kill my purple prose, prioritize readability, and create impeccable work under pressure.
Want to improve your article writing skills, land better clients, and earn more?
Here are a few tips from inside the CIA to help you be a better freelance writer: