Career Wednesday: The Freelancer’s Bible

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I dabbled in freelance writing for a month or so. I know, not very long, but I learned that it’s not easy (obviously!). Volunteer writing was easier to get than a paid gig because it’s easier on the client: They don’t have to deal with paychecks (I did a lot of that too).

However, the gig I did land was paid, and paid better than when I was a writer for my college newspaper. I was pretty happy to see my first paycheck! And it was fun, but then it became a chore. Since then, I’ve been reaching out to local publications and am settling for writing for free, again. In a way it’s fine since I’ll be building my portfolio, but it’d be nice to get paid again.

My goal was to become a full-time entertainment writer, and to some extent it still is, but since it’s such a difficult field to break into I decided to have a full-time job and freelance on the side. The freelance doesn’t have to be entertainment because as long as I’m able to write something, I’ll be happy.

And so comes this book that my boyfriend found for me, The Freelancer’s Bible. It’s a beginner’s guide to how to freelance and covers everything from how to file taxes, to finding clients, to marketing yourself online. I haven’t read much (I marked the chapters that were most relevant to me to read later) but what I have read has been helpful. It’s putting this job called freelancing in perspective for me.

Do any of you freelance on the side? Or anybody out there a full-time freelancer? If you’re the latter, how did you make the transition from full-time office worker to being your own boss? Let me know in the comments!

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Publishing Capitol of the World

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I’m not sure if New York City is the publishing capitol of the world, but it is home to many magazine companies such as Hearst (Good Housekeeping, Seventeen and Redbook) and Time Inc. (Entertainment Weekly, TIME and Sports Illustrated). I’m getting the impression that if someone wants to be a print journalist, she will need to (or consider a) move to New York City.

The numbers don’t lie: one site that I look at for journalism jobs is mediabistro. It categorizes jobs by industry, and you can narrow your search by location. Right now New York has 573 jobs, compared to California’s 149. By city: New York, 529; Los Angeles, 26. Can you believe that LA only has 26 media jobs?!

Maybe I should move East. It’s expensive and the winters are harsh, but it looks like New York City has more job opportunities in my field of work than Los Angeles. It’s twice the distance from Hawaii though, which is a problem. I’m not a fan of airplanes and taking one is enough, but two is stretching it.

Just a passing thought I guess.

First Writers Meeting

Today, after weeks of scheduling, I FINALLY met with a local freelance writer for what I like to call a “writers meeting.” She’s been in the freelance game for over ten years so she gave me really great advice, including what local publications prints freelance work. She’s written for majority of them.

Even though she disliked my wanting to go into entertainment, because “there are no real stories,” she was helpful in getting more clips overall. The more clips I have, she said, the more chances I have in landing better freelance work and/or a full-time writing job. I’m open to anything under the umbrella of entertainment (music, movies, food, fashion, lifestyle) so right now I’m going to focus on getting more samples.

When I told her that I went to grad school in LA then came home, she asked me if I was thinking of moving back. I told her yes, and she gave me a rundown of the entertainment scene here compared to LA (if I want to stick to small, regional coverage of entertainment, stay here and if not, move). I want to do the big stuff!

I asked her how she made a living freelancing, and she didn’t really answer my question. However, she did tell me that all of the freelancers she knows do it as a side job. That’s what she used to do (her full-time job was a professor), and I think that’s what I’m gonna do too. As a writer we can basically do anything, I told her. We can learn social media on our own, or graphic design, or editing. Nowadays journalists need more than great writing skills.

It was funny near the end of our hour long conversation when she suggested I look up entertainment jobs and note their requirements. For example if it said that the applicant needed at least 3 years of experience in a newsroom then to get that experience. She echoed what the career counselor told me!! She laughed when I brought it up.

I left the meeting with more direction and advice then when I entered it. I’m glad that I was able to meet with someone who actually did the work that I was currently doing, instead of taking advice from people who weren’t in my field of work. She knew what she was talking about and I felt inspired to work hard. Hey, freelancing is tough, but it doesn’t have to be. She does it and for now, so can I.