I thought I’d share a freelance writing update, what I’m working on unrelated to this site or my social feeds, to help unlock the mysteries of freelancing.
Freelance Writing Update: June 2017
Sometimes I share links on social media but I don’t speak much about the details of freelance life. This is in part because all the details happen before the post goes live and by the time I share it I’ve moved on to new projects. So here’s my freelance writing update.
However. At a recent event, I was reminded about how mysterious freelance writing is when you’re just getting started. So mysterious! Like, how does this writing-for-money-thing even happen?
While I can’t unlock all the secrets today, I will let you know a few things I’m doing and connect how I think they’re helping me move the bar along.
Social Media Panel: Golden Ears Writers | Freelance Writing Update
In May I had an amazing opportunity to speak at a writer’s group on a panel with fellow Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) members about social media marketing. This is my ideal topic, in front of my ideal people and in my ideal situation. I was thrilled to participate. I’ve spoken about blogging and social media before, but never about marketing. One of my goals for this year was to do more speaking so I’m happy this happened.
Yeah but, how did this happen?
Yes! Let’s talk about it! This happened because of pre-existing relationships. Like I mentioned before, this panel comprised fellow PWAC members. I’m a professional-level member of this organization and am active in our local chapter (alright, alright, I’m the current president too). What does this mean?
- Well it means I network with professional writers in my area in person
- It means I follow my colleagues on social media and support them with comments, likes, and reposts
- As much as possible, I communicate with these colleagues by email, phone calls, texts to offer encouragement, ask advice, and connect
- I help create opportunities for gaining experience, finding leads, and passing along opportunities
Yeah, but how did this happen?
Right. Well, one of my colleagues helps run Golden Ears Writers, an informal Maple Ridge BC-based writers group. I follow them on Facebook and I’ve attended gatherings in the past. When an opportunity to collaborate arose (note: a gap in the schedule) I pitched the idea. We were a few months out so had time to gather participants, work out the subject matter, and promote the event. This was an unpaid opportunity, by the way, but we were encouraged to promote our businesses and sell our products at the event.
The evening was well attended and there were loads of on-point questions. It, like I said before, reminded me that freelance writing can seem mysterious and integrating a social media strategy can be plain overwhelming. I had a lot of takeaways from this experience and am looking forward to more speaking opportunities like this.
Blog Post: Tourism Abbotsford
Here’s a blog post I wrote for Tourism Abbotsford about different hikes and walks you can do in Abbotsford. This type of article is called a roundup because it takes a bunch of different things and presents them together. A roundup of local hikes and walks is a great post for this site because someone looking for a hike or walk is probably Googling “best hikes in Abbotsford” or “Abbotsford walks” or “things to do in Abbotsford when it’s sunny.” If this post comes up then it not only summarizes a few great ideas, but gives the gist of what to expect so they can either do more research or cross things off the list.
A roundup post seems simple but usually is a lot of work to put together because you have a lot more options than goes into the post and you have to decide which ones make the cut. Also, you have to give each option an equal shake and highlight the same type of information in each point. Roundups are great for learning how to write tight (aka get rid of all the extra words; aka get to the point) and prioritizing information.
Yeah, but how did this happen?
Yes! This happened because I have pre-existing relationship with Tourism Abbotsford. I’ve written for them for a few years and so all this took was an assignment email and a deadline. Once relationships are rolling getting work is quite simple.
One further thought. This post performed well on social media and while I don’t know if there’s any correlation to me getting more paid work I don’t think it hurts. If nothing else it gets my name out there. Whenever I publish something I try and promote it on my channels and help it along.
Blog Post: Faith Strong Today
This post was written a couple months ago and I wasn’t sure when it would be published. When it went live Faith Strong Today tagged me on Twitter, which is how I knew it happened. I have a casual relationship with this website and I can send them articles at my own pace (although I think they’d like monthly). It’s primarily a podcast network so although my articles help round out the site and strengthen their SEO, they’re not a priority.
OK, nice, but how did this happen?
You’re not going to believe it, but it was a pre-existing relationship.
I know, right!?
Before the website launched I was contacted about writing for them. We worked out what I’d write, an initial schedule, and a rate on a per-article basis. I won’t get into rates and contracts today but I will mention since we worked out a yearlong plan, I was happy to work on a per-article basis. I know some freelance writer’s wouldn’t work this way but in this instance, I was good with it.
This media company is based in Toronto (aka far away from me) but I’ve worked in a professional capacity (not freelance) with the company for years. I didn’t see this opportunity coming but if I did I would’ve pursued it as what they’re doing is up my alley plus is a neat opportunity to do lifestyle writing with a Christian worldview.
Magazine Article: Insight for Living Canada (Only a sort-of freelance writing update)
This isn’t a freelance article but I wanted to include it to add context. Because this magazine is related to my day job but it gets me freelance work.
Working on this magazine is something I’ve done for a few years and often I’ll publish an article in it. For the last year I’ve published one each month.
Right. So how did this happen?
I started at this organization working on their blog, unrelated to the magazine. Over time I was able to publish the odd article, but I did have to pitch a lot of ideas and even some of my accepted ideas never got published. It’s easy to assume if you work for a media organization they’ll just take all your ideas but that isn’t the case. Sure, you have a seat at the table and you have a better chance of publishing than a freelancer does, but it’s not a given.
In fact, working for the publication is maybe harder than being a freelancer because if the magazine isn’t well received you get all the blame. You get to read all the feedback. You get to respond to all the criticism. As a freelancer, I never know if an article is hated by the readers (unless they tag me on Twitter) and sometimes ignorance is bliss.
That’s nice. So how does writing for this organization lead to freelance work?
I said I write every month right? OK, so every month my name is in print and sent to thousands of people. The same article is also published online and promoted on social media. I don’t know how many eyes are on the page but it adds up.
What does it mean? Well, not a ton at first, but then one day a media company decides to launch a podcast network and they think, “Oh, doesn’t Robyn write? I think the stuff she writes would work on our site, let’s call her.” And another organization decides to publish a book and they say, “This topic Robyn wrote about is one of the chapters we want in our book… let’s see if she’ll help us out.” And then a writer fresh out of school reads my article and thinks, “I’m looking for work like this… I’ll write Robyn and see if I can hire her to help me get started.”
And if I’m smart and looking for opportunities, I’ll say yes.
Hope this freelance writing update, aka a peek behind the curtain, casts some light onto the mysterious world of freelance writing! Now get your name out there!