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8 Steps to Making Your Freelance Writing Dreams Come True in 2012

Carol Tice

by James Palmer

Well, another year has gone by. Didn’t make much progress on your freelance writing goals?

Don’t worry. There’s still hope.

Below are eight ways to finally make your freelance writing dreams come true:

  1. Get your head on right. To succeed at freelance writing, you have to get in the right mindset. Two things I did to help get into a positive frame of mind are to read inspirational quotes and motivational books — my favorites are Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz — and to simply take responsibility for what happens in your life. If your life is always messed up due to your spouse, that skinflint editor, and the economy, you’ll never see how you can change things. But if you are responsible for your problems, it means you can fix them.
  2. Set realistic, actionable goals. Writing ten thousand words a day while holding down a full-time job is probably not going to happen, but 500 words per day is doable. Getting published in Esquire is a laudable goal but not within your control. Querying five publications per week in order to build up your clips is more actionable.
  3. Stay away from lowballers. If you start out writing for pennies you could get stuck there for years. Go after publications and clients that know the value of good writing and have the money to pay for it. Low-paying clients won’t respect your work and often turn out to be the most difficult to work with, too.
  4. Learn to query. Professional publications want to work with professional writers. Learn how to write professional query letters and letters of introduction.
  5. Read. You would think this is obvious, but for some it isn’t. You have to read if you are going to write. Read novels and poetry and blogs and how-to books and, last but not least, the magazines and websites you want to write for.
  6. Write. Believe it or not, here’s another one we often forget. You’ll never get good unless you practice.
  7. Pitch. You’ll never get paid if you don’t pitch stories to editors — lots and lots of stories. Study the publications to get a sense of what they’re looking for and send those queries out.
  8. Stick to a niche. Specialists usually earn more money than generalists. Try to become known for a particular market, type of writing you do, or client you help.

James Palmer is a freelance copywriter and author of 23 Ways to Make More Money as a Freelance Copywriter