Here are five more tips on becoming a freelance writer from our successful course graduates. If you haven’t already, go back and read part 1 of our freelance writing tips.
1. Networks are important
Freelance writer Jo Hartley says it’s a tough gig, but if you put in hard work you will get results, and you will make the connections you need to succeed.
“I’ve built good relationships across the board in terms of online and print publications. I most regularly write for Sydney Morning Herald Lifestyle section – that would be published a couple of times a month and also other sections of Sydney Morning Herald like Essential Kids and Essential Baby – I have regular posts in there and also Sunday Life Magazine is also another regular for their Wellbeing sections, and I’ve written for multiple other places online and in print such as MiNDFOOD Magazine, Sunday Telegraph, Marie Claire and across a range of other magazines as well.”
2. You can write for any publication you can dream of
Josefa Pete, before she became a writer, was a research scientist and also worked for her father’s construction company. She says she was intimidated to write before, but she came away from the course filled with confidence.
“The course finished on a Sunday afternoon, I’m pretty sure I sent my first pitch the next day,” she says. “I followed what I’d learnt on the Sunday, followed the pitch guidelines, I had Valerie’s voice in my head, don’t put that, put this, know your audience, know your editor and I wrote two pitches. I closed my eyes and hit send on that email and ran away from the computer and went ‘oh no, this is going to be terrible’, and two pitches came back with, yes we would love you to write this for us.
“I have to be honest, the idea of pitching to an editor, especially to a publication you’d been reading perhaps all your life and you admire so much, for me was overwhelming. It stopped me in my tracks. But the course took all that away, I just walked out and went, I could do this, I will do this.”
Former human resources expert Megan Blandford says she aimed high at first, and it gave her the confidence to keep going.
“I had in my head a couple of mind blocks of who I didn’t think I’d ever be good enough to write for, and I thought I’m going to hit those first and if I can do that then I can make this work. I can do anything after that. I thought I wouldn’t be good enough to write for a newspaper and I wouldn’t be good enough to write for an in-flight magazine. They were just my little things that I had in my head. So I just started pitching to The Age and to Jetstar magazine and funnily enough, I got a yes. And I’ve just kept running with it since then.
“I’m now a full-time writer, so I have a few avenues of how I make that work and have that income. One of the main sources of income I have at the moment is writing content for corporate clients, which is often for their blogs, I do travel writing as well, which I really love, and I write a bit of parenting stuff. My writing work has appeared in The Age, Jetstar magazine, Essential Kids, International Traveller, Wellbeing, Practical Parenting, Kidspot and lots more.”
3. Freelancing is a viable career
Even though Joy Adan had a bachelor’s degree in media and a master’s degree in publishing, she still didn’t feel confident that she could make a living as a writer until she took the Australian Writers’ Centre’s course.
“Being a freelance writer was just this idea in my head that I really had no idea how to go about, but throughout the year I really learned step by step the things that you need to get in place: the fact that I need to value my time and charge well for my time, to have an idea of the publications or the platforms that I want to get published in, and to really back myself.”
4. You can use your existing experience or interests as a writer
Lisa Schofield says she’s enjoyed the variety of writing she’s been able to do as a freelance writer.
“I focused on pitching to magazines I was interested in about subjects that I love and I had some early wins with Women's Running Magazine. I also wrote for Run for Your Life magazine, I was interested in running at the time, I started writing for Health and Wellness magazine, Prevention, Shape, Women's Health.
“I started to really enjoy writing for those magazines and then I started to diversify a little bit and get a little bit more structured in who I was going to write for. I didn’t want to write about only health and wellness, I’m interested in slice of life and human interest so I’ve written for Sunday Life, Good Weekend.
“I also enjoy going back to my business roots and my banking roots, so I’ve been writing for Marketing Magazine. I love travel writing and I love travel, so I’ve been writing for International Traveller and Jetstar magazine. I do other kinds of writing as well as feature writing, I do corporate writing and I have corporate clients that I write for.”
5. Watching others succeed will help you to succeed
Part-time freelance writer and blogger Michaela Fox says connecting to other writers through the course really helped her stay on track.
“It connected me to other like-minded people – and I think when you’re pursuing a creative passion like writing you need to find your tribe – and it gave me access to people like me who are writing and trying to do it as a career.
“It's just so inspiring to see what other writers are doing and the successes they’ve had since doing the course. I think that really motivated me to keep going and taught me that it really is possible to do something you love, and that life is too short not to be doing something you love, and that you need to sort of put your fears aside and feel confident that you actually can make your dreams come true.”
Freelance writer and actor Susannah Hardy says the ongoing support from the course has helped change her career and life for the better.
“One of the best things about doing the course was that it didn’t just end once the course finished, it’s an ongoing community feel with the teachers and with the students alike, and that has been a great support over the years.”
If all these tips have inspired you to get into freelance writing, taking the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Freelance Writing Stage 1 course will set you up perfectly. You’ll get a solid understanding of the industry and how to pitch, as well as mastering the techniques for researching, interviewing and writing.