Here’s Why Pitching Isn’t As Scary As You Think

Pitching isn’t so bad.

So you’ve reached that point in Writing Insanity Land.

You’re ready to pitch article ideas to publications. Hurray!

There’s just one problem …

Pitching is scary.

The first article I remember officially pitching was (of course) about NaNoWriMo. I wish I still had that email. I don’t remember how I worded anything, or what about my approach made that school newspaper editor say yes. All that to say, it wasn’t my last pitch. I’ve pitched hundreds of articles to dozens of publications since then.

Is it always easy? No. But it does get easier.

So if you want to start pitching, but you’re terrified — don’t worry. I’m here to help.

Editors, a.k.a., receivers of all the ideas

Emailing someone with an idea for an article feels weird for a few reasons — especially if you’ve never done it before. First of all, it has a cold sales call vibe. You’ve never met this person, you have their contact information, you have something to offer them — in exchange for something you want. I think that turns a lot of people off to the idea. But let’s not think of it like a cold call. Instead, think of pitching as a response to a call for submissions that has no deadline.

Usually when you email a pitch or list of pitches to a publication, you’re reaching out to an editor or content manager. These are their publication’s content experts. They know their pub’s audience, they know what effective headlines for their pub sound like — they know exactly what works and what doesn’t. They’re the people you want to approach — be excited, not terrified!

It’s literally in an editor’s job description to read and accept/reject your pitches. In MOST cases, you aren’t just sending your ideas to some random person who isn’t expecting them. It’s likely the person you’re emailing has seen hundreds of emails like yours already (which is why it’s so important to write an email that really impresses them!). It seems scary — but in reality, it’s just what you do.

How to overcome your pitch anxiety

If the idea of sending a random email to a random person sharing your random ideas (begging to be allowed to write SOMETHING PRETTY PLEEEEEASE) totally freaks you out, it’s OK. Take a deep breath. The first dozen times, it’s terrifying. Sometimes, depending on how far I’m about to leap, it’s STILL scary. Here’s what you can do to make pitching feel less fear-inducing.

  • Be formal, but conversational. Don’t sound like a robot, but don’t write like you’re texting a friend. Whoever you’re pitching to has likely worked with writers before. They want your unique voice to shine through — even in your initial contact email. Just be yourself.
  • Pitch a variety of ideas. Every article idea should sound very different from its partners, while still falling under the publication’s scope. This makes it more likely that at least one pitch will stick.
  • Be excited. Let them know you’re genuinely interested in the topics, in the publication, in writing in general. There are too many people out there who pitch dozens of publications in batches just hunting for bylines. Don’t be one of them. CARE.
  • Remember: the best way to learn how to pitch is to do it. A lot. No one ever taught me how. I just did it a whole bunch of times until I figured it out. It took a few years, but it happened. If my anxious brain can do it, you can definitely do it.
Still not sure about this whole pitching thing?

Relax. No, seriously. If you’re worried about being annoying, don’t. You’re doing whatever publication you’re pitching to a favor. If you write something good, and it gets a lot of views, that brings traffic, subscribers, revenue to them — and you (hopefully!) get your name on it (and maybe even a paycheck, depending on what level of writing insanity you’re at). Editors want you to pitch good things. Unless they don’t. Then, honestly, they’ll probably just ignore you.

And if you’re afraid of getting rejected … it’s totally normal and you’re not a pathetic loser. Rejection isn’t fun, but it’s going to happen regardless. Just keep in mind that rejection is not a form of failing. The only way to fail in writing is to not try. So try! WELCOME ALL THE REJECTIONS! Because at some point, you’re going to expect rejection, and receive a wonderful and unexpected surprise instead.

Put these four words on repeat in your mind: you can do it. You might not want to, you might want to put it off, you probably wish someone else could do it for you. But pitching is the first step. It’s one of many steps to earning a full-time writing job (at least it was for me). You cannot avoid it. So instead, learn to live with it. You never know — you may even fall in love with it.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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12 Ways to Manage Your Procrastination Problem (Because Yes, You Definitely Have One)

Why do you keep doing this.

1. Instead of setting just a deadline, also set a start date.

2. Do the hard/least desirable parts first. If the whole thing is going to suck, try to do it in small pieces.

3. Break a big scary task into tiny little monster tasks. Defeat them one by one.

4. Don’t prioritize. Instead, alternate between something you’re dreading and something you’ll enjoy. (Note: only applies when it’s not 10pm and you have two things due at 11:59, you did it again, why do you keep doing this, what is wrong with you).

5. Note things that CAN wait: checking your email, calling your mom, petting the dog, eating chips.

6. Minimize distractions. You’re still allowed to have fun and be comfortable … but not too much.

7. Stop looking for inspiration. Start generating ideas, even if they’re bad ones, to inspire creativity.

8. Never move a task from one day to another. Assign a day and stick to it.

9. Repeat after me: “There is no such thing as a good first draft.” That’s why they call it rough.

10. Don’t try to do it perfectly. Mistakes are how we learn. No one who’s worth your time expects you to do everything right all the time.

11. Acknowledge that your fear/anxiety is real, even though it isn’t rational. It’s OK to “not want to.”

12. Remember that a little procrastination is good for you. Just don’t let it destroy your life.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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Doing the Work

Do it.

You know what’s fun? Coming up with (what you hope is) a great idea.

You know what’s a lot less fun? Actually doing something with that idea.

Or as I like to say … putting that idea into words.

Because as wonderful as it would be to think up an idea, snap your fingers, and marvel instantly at the finished product, that’s not how creativity works. That’s how some people see it from the outside. But on the inside, there’s a lot of work that lies between inspiration and completion.

That’s the part that separates dreamers from achievers.

Willingness, ability, desire, to actually do the work. Not just think or talk about it. But DO it.

So you’re sitting there, minding your own business, and BOOM. New idea. Wow, it’s a good one too. Your mind starts wandering off into that faraway place all our minds wander off to when a new story or theme starts to unfold. You never want to come back.

Imagination is effortless. Inspiration is euphoric.

It does not last.

At some point, reality strikes. You approach a crossroads. You can either continue to let yourself imagine all the wonderful things you’re going to do with the idea in your head … or you can DO something with it.

Of course … doing something would require … you know. Effort.

Many people aren’t willing or able to put effort behind their inspiration. That’s not commentary on anyone’s character. It’s simply the way creativity works. Coming up with ideas isn’t what makes you a successful creative. Only hard work can do that.

I’m guilty of idea hoarding. It’s part of that procrastination problem personal development experts like to remind us about for some reason. I love coming up with ideas. I also love committing to things. It’s inspirational. It makes me feel alive. Then I open my eyes on a Monday morning and I realize, oh. A resume/CV doesn’t mean anything unless the work actually gets done. Right.

(I’m not lazy. I just get tired. I’m only human.)

Why don’t we want to do the work? Is work ever not exhausting and draining? I think even those of us who thrive on the thrill of being busy struggle to keep up the more projects we decide to juggle. You can have a blast writing all day, but when that day ends, your brain still feels like melted butter. Fun is just as tiring as doing stuff you don’t want to do.

What takes us from idea to finished product? Not anything fancy, unfortunately, so if you were hoping for some magic potion to cure your not-wanting-to-adult-ness, sorry. It’s a lot of words you don’t want to hear. Discipline. Resilience. Sitting your butt down in a chair and keeping your butt in said chair until you’ve actually accomplished something.

Aspiring writers who don’t like to write can learn to write anyway.

Writers actively pursuing their professional careers can work more efficiently and effectively, even when they don’t wanna.

It’s all a learning process. For everyone. But what works for one person probably won’t work for everyone. You have to figure out how you work. You have to figure out what’s going to first get your butt into a chair, then how to start actually Doing Something, then how to keep yourself in that spot. I cannot physically show up at all of your doorsteps and scream at you until you write something. I CAN TYPE IN ALL CAPS AND HOPE THAT GETS YOUR ATTENTION BUT I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER WHETHER OR NOT YOU ACTUALLY WRITE. That’s all on you.

Doing work is hard work.

It’s not always fun.

Sometimes you do a bunch of work and it doesn’t pay off.

Sometimes it does.

But you’ll never know unless you Do.

Do it.

Do it.

DO. IT.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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How to Figure Out What Kind of Writing You Want to Focus On

SO. MANY. OPTIONS.

Writers have a lot of freedom, in terms of choosing what kinds of writing they want to do. Which is great. Until you realize you want to do everything, or know there’s a specific type of writing you DO NOT want to do. Then you’re stuck.

There’s so many options — too many options, maybe. And you want to know which one you’re best at, which one you’ll enjoy the most, and — let’s be honest — the one that will help you make money without making you miserable. Here’s how to experiment with different styles, formats, and genres until you know which one — or ones — you want to focus on moving forward.

Blog about everything

Blogging experts will tell you that your blog must focus on one niche and one writing style or genre to keep it uniform. This doesn’t always apply, though. There’s no rule that says a blog has to be a perfect, public masterpiece that’s useful enough to make a profit. You can use a blog as an experimental showcase of different kinds of writing, art, etc. — yes, you’re allowed! Post a poem, a news brief, a how-to article, a review, a short story — anything you want. You have the freedom to do that. You have the luxury of practicing however, wherever, and however often you want.

When it comes time to put together your online portfolio, depending on the type of writing you want to show prospective employers, partners, or clients, you can either break it into sections by type or only add your best work from a specific style or genre.

Freelance

“Freelance writer” is one of the most generic job titles, but that says a lot about what you can accomplish as a freelancer. You can pretty much write about anything, in any format. Press releases, newsletters, articles, ebooks — I once had someone ask me if I would write Minecraft fanfiction (I may have said yes). In my time as a freelancer, I’ve done just about everything — not just because of the money, but because it’s worthwhile, and often fun, to explore different things. And unlike blogging, as long as you’re skilled enough to provide what a client wants, you can get paid to experiment. How cool is that?

Before you dive into the wonderful world of freelance writing, make sure you check out the unwritten rules. Know what you’re getting into before you get into it. Going in prepared, even if you’re not sure what you want your freelancing focus to be, will make you much more successful much more quickly. It’s still a rough ride, but it’s going to make you a better writer in more ways than one.

Read outside your comfort zone

One of the best ways to train and motivate yourself to write is to read. I make as much time for reading every week as I do for writing. However, this isn’t a very useful practice if you stick to only one type of book, especially when you’re trying to explore different kinds of writing. Reading only fiction, when you aren’t sure if you want to stick to writing fiction, isn’t going to help you branch out.

Read fiction, nonfiction, self-help, poetry — every genre you can. It opens you up to new possibilities, especially if you haven’t explored many before. I never really read non-fiction until college, and it was then that I started writing articles and migrating away from my fiction-only writing lifestyle. Plus, it’s a great motivator — you read something, fall in love with it, and think, “Wow. I want to write something that people will like as much as I like this.” And sometimes, you even go off and do it.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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How to Get Better At Starting

Are you a terrible starter?

Are you bad at starting?

If you are — if you procrastinate until the last possible second, if your favorite phrase is “I can’t wait until I finally have time to,” if you have a dozen project ideas written down but have yet to touch them — then I have good news for you.

You’re not alone. I, and many other writers, are on the same exact struggle bus.

No, we’re not even ON the struggle bus. The struggle bus is dragging us behind it as it speeds down the busy highway of Never Ending Somedays.

Starting is hard. For one thing, you have this (hopefully) great idea. You have a picture in your head of exactly how you want it to turn out. You’re SOOOO EXCITED to show people the finished product.

Except once you start … you actually have to write. You know, like … do the work.

And it might not turn out exactly how you planned.

And you worry that you won’t ever be able to finish it.

For another, we tend to fall into this trap of saying we’re going to do something and then not doing it … because saying we have plans sort of makes us feel like we’ve done a whole bunch of work, without actually getting anything done. It’s psychological.

And sometimes we lose track of the days, and “I’ll start this when I finish grad school” turns into six weeks/months/years of never actually making any progress because REASONS.

You can set a start date for a big project, and hey, you might even somehow manage to stick to that (GO YOU!). But then you just keep working on that same big project. And it doesn’t feel like you’re making any progress, because it’s still the same thing. And then you run into a whole new problem.

You feel the itch to start something new. Because even though starting is hard, it’s exciting. It makes you feel invincible. As much as you don’t want to abandon your current work-in-progress (or WIP, as the kids say) … THIS NEW THING LOOKS SO SHINY AND YOU WANT TO TOUCH IT.

So then you have to resist. Which is confusing. Because you just fought against this struggle to get something started, and now you have to fight the urge to do it again. WHY.

All right. Deep breaths. It’s fine. I (kind of) know how we can fix this.

It’s all about changing your mindset. Or thinking about things on a much smaller scale.

Because if you think about it, as a writer, you’re always starting something new. Maybe not always a new book or a new script or a new blog. But you’re always starting a new chapter, or a new scene, or a new post. There’s always another article or review, another stanza, another page.

Don’t think of projects in terms of the whole. Not all the time. Not if you’re a terrible starter. If you’re not good at beginnings, then create more beginnings for yourself. Keep track of the new things you start. You’ll soon realize you do it a lot more than you thought — and it’s not as difficult as it always seems. Just because you haven’t jumped into a brand-new creative endeavor doesn’t mean you’re not making progress somewhere else — no matter how slow. Just because you haven’t started YET doesn’t mean you won’t … but you still really SHOULD.

It’s like breaking up big goals into small ones. You just look at a really big thing in much smaller pieces. It makes everything a lot easier — and in many cases, a lot more enjoyable, too.

The best way to practice getting started is to start more things. Don’t go crazy, don’t try to start 10 new projects at once, because trust me, you will die. Take note of your small starts. Let yourself be proud of them. Remember that starting is just a hurdle, but it’s not the only one. It’s OK to be afraid and uncertain. You can’t see it now, but starting is worth it. It always has been. It always will be.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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Your Readers Have a Lot of Options. Make Your Writing Worth Their Time

What convinces a reader to come back?

Do you know how many blogs are out there on the internet?

Billions.

This blog — the one you’re interacting with right now — is one of billions of blogs online.

It’s weird to think that somehow, you found this one, and are reading it now — and might read other posts on the same blog, either today or some other day in the future.

How did that happen?

I think about this a lot. What many people outside the “industry” don’t realize is that writers think about data A LOT. I’m very interested in learning all I can about where you came from, how you got here, and what you’re clicking on once you’re here.

But what matters to me even more is figuring out what keeps you coming back.

Because plenty of my posts get views from users who leave and don’t return. Over the years, I’ve modified my posting style gradually as I’ve learned more about not only what attracts people to Novelty Revisions, but what convinces them to subscribe — and continue reading day after day.

I don’t have all the answers. I’m no expert. But knowing how many blogs are out there — and wanting to reach as many readers as possible anyway — I’ve found the most important thing in any post is making it as worthwhile to a potential reader as possible.

There are a lot of things you might not realize are — and aren’t — worth your readers’ time.

Don’t focus too much on yourself.

Be helpful.

Offer as much value as possible in as few words as you can manage.

Find a unique angle to every topic you address.

Write well.

Maybe most of this seems obvious to you. But it’s very easy to get caught up in our own heads and complain a lot, forgetting most people don’t want to read that. Or ramble on and forget to make a worthwhile point — or just repeating the same things over and over again without cause. People come to a blog for information and come back for a number of reasons — everything from a writer’s unique style to their outlook on a range of topics.

I think the most obvious — yet often the most overlooked — aspect of writing for an audience is remembering to write well. Two people could write a post about the exact same thing. One writes a dry, robotic-sounding, press release-like post, while the other talks to the reader as if they’re sitting across from them at a coffee shop — casual, yet purposeful. Which blog do you think readers are most likely to return to a second time?

It can be overwhelming, realizing how many blogs are already out there — hundreds on your exact topic of interest, at least. What makes you stand out isn’t any one or two things. It’s a unique combination of characteristics only you and your readers can define. Your blog’s name, look, About Page, sure — very important things. But also, the way you “talk” to your readers, how well you convey your expertise and/or interest surrounding a topic, how willing you are to interact with your audience. Readers want to be paid attention to, but they also want to be related to, understood, appreciated. Acknowledged.

Well what if you don’t have readers? Write to the audience you want to have. That’s what I did the first years of this blog. I spoke to fellow writers, whether anyone was reading or not. I didn’t get everything right all the time — not even close. But the more relatable my content, the more people visited — and returned.

I’m not happy with the way my blog looks right now, I’m not too pleased with the past few weeks’ posts, but y’all keep coming back anyway, because we care about each other. This blog isn’t just a faceless person typing words to the void. It’s me, a writer, talking to you, a writer. THAT is why you’re here. You might notice and even acknowledge the flaws, but you’re still here. It’s taken almost 9 years to build that kind of audience. I did it. You can, too.

Write words that matter to you — but make them matter to others just the same. A blog isn’t a diary, it’s an experience. If you want readers, give that experience value to those readers, and they won’t just show up once and never come again. They’ll stay. A lot of them, anyway.

Create something worthwhile — for everyone you want to serve. Including yourself. The most important rule of blogging, first and foremost: if you don’t care about what you’re writing, no one else will. You are the foundation of the community you want to create. Everyone who shows up and claims a place atop that foundation will likely mimic your attitude. Care, and they’ll care also. Persist, and they will also. Support them, and they’ll support you. Do what you do as well as you can, and they’ll (hopefully) read every word.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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This Simple Trick Will Get You Writing More Words Every Single Time

It’s much easier than you think!

For many writers, starting is the hardest part.

You know you have to do it. You might even feel motivated to do it. And once you actually get started, it’s easy to get it done.

But you just. Can’t. Start. You can’t get into it. Those first few hundred words feel like torture.

After many years of writing when I didn’t want to (writing is fun, but sometimes, you just want to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling), I’ve figured out a strategy that almost always works for me. I’m hoping it might help you, too.

Here’s what you can do.

Sit down. Open your draft. Set a goal of writing 500 words before your butt leaves your chair. And start slowly inching toward that goal.

Here’s what often happens.

You write 100 words. It feels like it’s been four hours and you’ve written 100 pages and you really, really just want to quit. But you keep writing.

You hit 250 words. You don’t feel much better, and you’re probably still having a hard time focusing. But you figure, maybe I can keep going. I can write 250 more, probably. Maybe then I’ll take a break.

And then you hit 500.

And you think, wow. I wrote 500 words. That wasn’t so hard. I’m really glad I did that.

And then: I wonder if I could write 500 more.

Over the next 500 words you find it a lot easier to focus. Time doesn’t drag on quite as slowly. You start to find your piece’s rhythm. You start flying through your prose. You might even start getting a little excited about what the end product might look like.

1,000 words. You’re either almost done or you’re just excited to have hit 1,000. Sometimes you run over 1K without even realizing it and you just keep going. Because now, you’ve crashed through all your hurdles and this whole writing thing is sort of fun again, kind of.

Maybe for you, for a shorter piece like a blog post or news brief, your magic number is 5o or 200 words, or 300, 350. But whenever you hit that number, your whole perspective shifts. Your brain just sort of locks onto whatever you’re working on, and it actually becomes extremely difficult to pull away once you really get deep into it.

I love this feeling, this phenomenon, whatever it is. It has helped me recover from the worst of my procrastination (you know, at that point where if you do not start writing RIGHT NOW, you are going to be late). It’s helped me Do The Things when I’m not feeling up to it. It makes the big projects seem a lot less scary and time-consuming. Maybe it will help you, too.

Do you have a magic number? Maybe for you it’s not a number of words to be reached, but a time limit — you have to write for 20 minutes before time becomes irrelevant and you have to forcefully tear your fingers away from your keyboard to stop. If it’s not a number of words or time limit, is there some other way you push yourself to start/finish something with or without any external motivation?

Enjoy your writing endeavors this week! Best of luck in all your projects, whether they exist yet or not!


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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18 Ways to Challenge Yourself This Month

Go ahead — give them a try.

The more you write, the more you fall into a rhythm. This beat becomes easy to follow — so easy that you stop growing.

After awhile, writing gets comfortable. Too comfortable. We settle into habits, not all of them good. We let yourselves get repetitive. We depend so much on routine that we forget what it’s like to wander outside our comfort zone.

It’s time to break out of your rut. Try one (or all!) of these writing exercises to challenge yourself to do things differently. You might even begin to break a habit or learn a new skill in the process.

1. Write the shortest thing you’ve ever written.

2. Write the longest thing you’ve ever written.

3. Explore a genre you’ve never touched before.

4. Create a character that’s the exact opposite of yourself.

5. Take something you’ve written previously and trim it down to half its original word count.

6. Do the same thing, except double it.

7. Share something you’ve written with a friend or family member who’s never read your work (or hasn’t in a long time).

8. Look up writing meet-up groups in your area. Go check one out!

9. Write a personal essay about your past. Go deep. You don’t have to share it — just write it.

10. Write a letter to someone you love. Again, you don’t have to send it.

11. Then write a letter to someone (or something) you hate.

12. Write a story from your pet’s point of view.

13. Write about something you know nothing about.

14. Write about your fandom/obsession — but do so as if you can’t stand it.

15. Try to write 5,000 words in one day. (Already do? 1o,000.)

16. Write about your least favorite emotion.

17. Write a letter to your future self.

18. Go a day without writing anything. No emails, no texts, no notes to self. Then write about how terribly that probably went. :)


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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Is Freelance Writing Right For You?

Should you start freelancing? Here are a few things to ask yourself first.

I’m going to be completely honest with you here: I started freelance writing because I could not find another writing job.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I didn’t have nearly as much writing experience as I thought I did at the time I graduated college. If I would have known freelancing would launch my writing career, I would have started six months earlier. But I didn’t. Because it took me way too long to figure out if I was even ready to do something that seemed so “out there.”

Can you relate? Do you want to try your hand at freelance writing, but you’re just not sure if it’s the right move for you?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you start freelancing.

How disciplined are you?

Can you start, make progress on, and finish projects without being micromanaged? Can you juggle multiple assignments at once, all with different sets of guidelines? Can you just do a lot of things in a timely manner from the chaos of your own home? Because that’s often what freelance writing is like. You’re given a task, and you’re expected to finish it on time. Mistakes are frowned upon (if not unacceptable), and not getting things done means you don’t get paid, don’t get offered more work, or both.

Simply put, not everyone is built to be able to sustain a career in freelancing. It takes a kind of discipline I believe is part learned, part ingrained in your personality. You can become a more disciplined writer — but if you don’t already have this in you, you really might struggle to keep up. That’s not to say you can never freelance. You just might not be ready yet.

How skilled/knowledgable are you?

Some aspiring writers can begin their careers with freelancing with minimal experience — but it depends on the niche and what’s being asked and expected of you. Freelancing is not for learning how to write better (at least not directly), or being taught anything other than how one specific client wants things done. While you do learn how to write better by writing a lot, it’s not your client’s job to educate you. It’s your job to know how to do the work, and learn on your own anything you don’t already know or understand.

Anyone who wants to freelance can make freelancing work for them. Just know that if you’re calling yourself any kind of expert, you’d better have the skills and background knowledge to back that up. I say this coming from the health and wellness niche, but it applies for every field and niche. Know your stuff before you dive in.

Can you consistently provide quality work without expecting feedback?

Another thing clients usually don’t do: give freelancers feedback on their work. It’s one thing to correct small mistakes if it’s part of the client’s SOPs and you need to do it correctly for future reference. But freelance writing works like this: receive assignment, submit assignment, get paid. Usually, there is very little back-and-forth between writer and editor. It’s not because an editor doesn’t want you to do better — it’s just not their job to help you do that.

This took some adjusting for me, since I came into freelancing from an internship program designed to teach student writers how to be better writers. It was strange sending off my work and never seeing or hearing about it ever again. But with this adjustment comes an important lesson about self-evaluation. If you want to do better, you’re responsible for looking over your work and figuring out how to make it better. That’s a really useful habit and skill to have.

How good are you at dealing with people?

Think freelance writers are lucky because they don’t have to be social in an office? You don’t get a pass because your office doubles as your bedroom (or is that just me?). I’ve worked with many clients who have been trained as managers, who are professional, and who are easy (sometimes fun!) to work with. Not every client you cross paths with will be such a blessing. I’ve also had clients who don’t understand the concept of how long research takes, don’t respect my time, yell at me for not giving them exactly what they wanted, assume I don’t know how to do my job because I’m a freelancer/20something/woman/”nutritionist”, and micromanage me so forcefully that I’ve given them their money back and quit after a week. (Side note: do not do this. It is the one and only time I ever have, but in most cases, the money you earn is wholly yours).

Part of freelancing is having really good people skills, at least digitally and professionally. This ranges from sending short, concise emails to building up the courage to ask for more money. Being easy and even enjoyable to work with can completely change your freelancing experience — even if you get the occasional client that is anything but. Sometimes, they honestly just don’t realize their behavior is ridiculous.

Do you enjoy writing — like, really enjoy it?

Because you’re going to be doing a LOT of it. And it’s not always going to seem worth it. I can only speak from my experiences, but on the days clients were rude and things weren’t getting done and I wanted to quit, it was my deeply-rooted love of writing (and the topics I was writing about) that kept me going.

But it goes beyond enjoying the writing process. You also have to have an interest in/passion for what you are writing about. I once wrote 40 articles about men’s fashion for a client. I hated every single minute of it, because I just don’t care about men’s fashion. Kudos to people who do, but if that had been my only freelancing experience, I would have given up within the first few months.

Are you in it just for the cash?

Be honest here. Because — especially when you’re starting out with little experience — new freelancers don’t make much. Even more experienced freelancers who’ve gradually raised their rates, in the grand scheme of things, don’t make much. Can it pay the bills? Sure, if you answered yes to all the above questions. But freelance writing alone will not make you rich. At least not early on. There are plenty of people who make six figures freelance writing. You’re not going to do that anytime soon after starting. Many people never will.

If you’re doing it for the money, just understand that it’s not going to start pouring in right away. My first month, I made $40. You can begin freelance writing with a goal to make as much as you want to. But if you’re expecting thousands of dollars right out of the gate, maybe take a step back and really think about why you want to do this.

As always, your “why” is everything. Why do you really want to freelance? There are no right or wrong answers here. But your response says a lot about whether or not you’re cut out for this. Again — just because you might not be prepared now doesn’t mean you never will be. I wrote and edited for a magazine for free for 4 years before I started freelancing. I desperately wanted to start in college, but knew I wasn’t ready. It’s OK if you don’t start tomorrow. Freelance writing is not a job robots will take away from you. If not right now — someday. You’ll get there. If you truly want to do it, you will find a way to make it happen.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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Just Set a Start Date

Starting is hard.

Do you find starting a project is more of a struggle than finishing one? Do you struggle to meet deadlines because you always start much later than you planned? I’ve tried to overcome this barrier in my writing for years. And while some procrastination can be a good thing, there may be a very simple way to increase your productivity without totally stressing you out.

The problem with deadlines is that they only help us finish something. There’s (almost) always some sort of finish line to jog or sprint toward. But what about the starting line? Why don’t we stamp a date on that, too?

Maybe the key to convincing yourself to work on a project isn’t setting a deadline for when you are going to finish. While that can help you stay on track, maybe, before you do that, you should first set a start date.

After all, how many times have you told yourself or confided in someone else, “I want to finish writing a novel by the end of the year” — but you never manage to get started, or jump back into the unfinished work? What if it’s simply because you’ve never said, “I’m going to start working on this book no later than July 17?”

I’ve convinced that, sometimes, we do this whole goal-setting thing backwards. We’re so focused on when we’re going to finish something that we forget we also have to start it — and for many of us, actually getting started is one of the biggest, if not the most difficult, hurdles at the forefront of every writing project. If you mark a start date on your calendar, it’s possible starting won’t be QUITE as difficult as it is without that “deadline” jumping out at you.

If you’re a hopeless procrastinator, adding bookends to your work might be exactly what you need to at least try to established a more organized workflow. This way, you can plan out not only when you’re going to get started and when you want to get it done, but how much work falls between those two dates. The advice to break up big projects into small pieces doesn’t help much if you don’t plan accordingly.

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part. You already likely know from experience that once you get started, things get (just a little) easier. Set yourself a start date and see what happens. It might change your life. It might not. You’ll never know until you make a wholehearted attempt.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.

Join now.