Surviving As a Freelancer: Tough But Not Impossible.

freelancerYou know how they say you shouldn’t quit your day job to become a full-time writer? Well, last Thursday at David Wolinsky’s workshop at “Open Books Chicago” on freelancing I met three(!) people who did exactly the opposite – they quit their well-paid corporate jobs to pursue another career: writing. I left empowered and encouraged to start investing more in the dream of mine: dedicate all my time to writing for kids and freelancing as a travel journalist rather than working for someone 9-5.

David started with describing things as they are in a freelance world: not promising at all. He said that nowadays people think that “freelancing” means writing for free. It’s not a joke, and some editors hope in the future that’s how it will be. Layoffs, buyouts and other scary things like content aggregators(special software that accumulates data from various websites for an article thus eliminating a necessity to hire a person to do a research and all “writing” in this case comes to “content architecture”-combining pieces of already written information) await everyone who dares to enter the industry.

So, what if you still want to write? It’s tough, but not impossible!

-Find gigs, not assignments. It’s the closest thing to security freelancers can get.

– Cultivate variety, meaning:where you’re working; are you doing it full-time? subjects you’re covering.

-Start publishing your stuff online. The more, the better.

– Internships are another great way to enter the industry.

– Set goals, deadlines, specific places to write for, certain amount of money you want to earn(pocket-money? legit second income?).

David stressed that to get started in a freelance world, it’s crucial to find people whose work you respect and reach out via email and let them know you enjoy their writing. It can look something like this(from David’s presentation):

SUBJECT: RE: Your (Smithsonian list) on (tall building)

Dear Gervasius,

My name is(your name) and I’m a writer and a (day job) in Chicago. I came across your(publication piece) and just wanted to let you know (your opinion). I especially enjoyed your (observation) that the (Superdome) resembled (a can opener). I hadn’t thought of it before, but now it’s all I can think of!

Keep up the good work!


(Reader Readerson).

Give them 7-10 days and if they don’t answer-move on.Most probably they will if you mention that you are a writer as well:) Networking is a key in the freelancing world. They might get you in touch with an editor whom you can pitch.

David also mentioned a great way to find out what magazines are currently interested in:  they have a Media Kit link on their websites where they mention a list of things they plan to publish soon.

Thank you “Open Books Chicago” and David for conducting such a useful workshop!

By the way, my first volunteering field trip with “Open Books” will take place this upcoming Thursday, May 24th and I will keep you posted.

For all those who want to make an impact on a child’s life through literacy promotion and who live in Chicago, click this link and enroll in volunteering with “Open Books” now!