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Attention, writers! We’d love a minute of your time. 

We need your help.

You’ve seen our list of the best websites for writers for the past five years. We love showcasing these amazing resources and sharing the tools you need to become a better writer.

We look forward to continuing the tradition with a new edition of 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2019.

We want to make sure we include valuable resources for everyone, so we need your input.

Which blogs do you visit for inspiration, information or writing-related entertainment? Which sites have earned space on your bookmarks bar? Who do you want to nominate for our list?

Tell us: What’s your favorite writing website? Let us know your favorite sites here

We’re looking forward to sharing the list with you in January!

The post It’s Time to Nominate the Best Writing Websites for 2019! appeared first on The Write Life.

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Self-publishing is hot right now.

Yet with hundreds of books published each day, it’s more important than ever to make sure your self-published book stands out from the crowd.

You don’t just want to self-publish. You want to self-publish well.   

The websites, apps and tools on this list will help you do just that. From getting your manuscript down on paper, to formatting for publication, to distribution and marketing, these resources will help you every step of the way.

We’ve sorted the resources into seven categories: Websites and blogs, general self-publishing courses and toolkits, writing, format and design, cover design, marketing, and distribution.

Let’s get to it!

Websites and blogs 1. Alliance for Independent Authors

ALLi is a membership community for authors who self-publish. With multiple membership levels starting at $75 per year, ALLi offers an international network of authors and professional advisors, forums, online workshops, guides, a self-publishing services directory and more.

This organization puts a strong emphasis on ethics and excellence, so you’re sure to get quality support.

2. Authority Self-Publishing

Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport are bestselling self-published authors and marketing experts. Along with a blog filled with helpful tips, tricks, and advice, they also produce the Authority Self-Publishing podcast, which covers how to grow your author platform, market your books, and build a business around your self-publishing.

Be on the lookout for the next registration round for their course, Authority Pub Academy.

3. The Book Designer

With tons of self-publishing guides, advice, templates, and toolkits, The Book Designer is the go-to place for navigating the publishing world. Joel Friedlander believes every author can make an impact — they just need to get their book out there! With his experience in book design and advertising, he’ll show you how.

Not sure where to start? Check out Friedlander’s book A Self-Publisher’s Companion for words of wisdom.

4. The Independent Publishing Magazine

As an author, editor and investigative journalist, Mick Rooney is serious about bringing you the latest from the independent publishing world. Here you’ll find an expert’s perspective on the future of self-publishing and the reform needed in the industry — along with reviews of many paid-publishing services from printers both large and small.

Don’t miss Rooney’s monthly Publishing Service Index, a comprehensive ranking of self-publishing companies.

Self-publishing courses and toolkits 5. Authority by Nathan Barry

Who says you can’t make money off your technical writing? Odds are, you’re an expert in something, and Nathan Barry wants to help you self-publish a book around your expertise.

Starting at $179, Authority packages include a 160-page guide, video tutorials, video interviews, and other materials to help you write your book and build a following around it.

6. Self-Publishing Success Summit

When it comes to self-publishing, best-selling author and entrepreneur Chandler Bolt believes anyone can do it — even if you don’t have a lot of time or writing experience. For $297, The Self-Publishing Success Summit includes access to more than 35 expert interviews and insider secrets on book writing, marketing and monetizing.

He dishes his best advice for learning how to write and publish a book in a timely fashion in addition to continuously providing readers with his free training webinar where you’ll learn how to turn your idea into a completed, ready-to-self-publish book.

7. Unconventional Guide to Publishing

Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Publishing is a great primer to the publishing world and can help you decide between traditional and self-publishing methods. This package features guides on book marketing, writing a proposal, and community building, and also includes interviews with top editors.

Prices range from $58-$129, depending on the package.

Writing tools 8. Scrivener

Scrivener is a powerful writing tool that helps you organize research and easily structure long documents. It’s the word processor specifically made for writers — though it does have a steep learning curve. When you’re done writing, you can export your work in ready-to-go formats for ePub, Kindle, iBooks and more.

Scrivener is available for both Windows and Mac users, with licenses starting at $45.

9. Learn Scrivener Fast

Scrivener is the secret to success for so many authors. But the software can be hard to learn and get used to  — and because it has so many features, most authors are definitely not taking full advantage of the software. With Joseph Michael’s course, you’ll be a Scrivener pro in no time.

Pricing starts at $127.

10. Author 2.0 Blueprint and Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn

In these free ebooks, Joanna Penn gets in depth on the writing and self-publishing process from start to finish. She walks through how to accomplish your first draft, explore publishing options, and build your platform as an author-entrepreneur.

You’ll also learn how to go about formatting, distributing and marketing your book so that it’s a complete success.

Formatting and design 11. Calibre

This e-book library management application lets you convert your content to and from an extensive list of formats. The conversion feature automatically detects book structure, and the application has a built-in editor where you can preview your changes in real time.

Calibre is free, open source and available for both Windows and macOS — and even Linux, for you super nerds.

12. iBooks Author

This free app for macOS makes it easy to create a awesome-looking book. It features drag-and-drop templates and support for movies, audio and widgets, making it a great option for a multi-sensory and interactive experience. iBooks Author is also an author favorite for creating textbooks, since it elegantly supports charts, graphs, and mathematical expressions.  

13. Pressbooks

With Pressbooks, you don’t need to know anything about design to make a great-looking book. This online writing software has designs for all types of books, from novels and memoirs to white papers and textbooks.

When you’re ready to publish, Pressbooks will deliver files optimized for all major ebook platforms along with print-ready files for publishing hard copies through services like CreateSpace and IngramSpark. You can use the software for free with Pressbooks watermarks in your book, or pay to remove watermarks starting at $19.99 per book.

14. Streetlib

Streetlib is a one-stop shop to write, publish and sell your book. With this free online software, you can draft and edit your content, choose from a set of beautiful themes, and download ready-to-go files for all major platforms.

If you wish, you can have Streetlib handle publishing of your book on any platforms of your choosing — in which case, Streetlib receives 10 percent of each book sold.

15. Vellum

Vellum helps you polish the look of your book and get it ready for publication. Simply upload your file and use the Book Styles feature to add a coordinated set of typography and flourishes. Then preview and export your book for all major ebook platforms including iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Google Play.

Vellum is only available for macOS systems, and offers two purchase options: Vellum Ebooks, which allows you to create unlimited ebooks for $199.99, or Vellum Press, which covers both digital and paper tomes for $249.99.

(Check out this review TWL contributor Blake Atwood wrote about Vellum.)

Cover design 16. Book Design Templates

These ready-to-use templates for Microsoft Word and InDesign are a great alternative to the high cost of professional design services. Joel Friedlander (of The Book Designer, mentioned above) takes care of the major details — like typography and industry-standard formatting — so you can add your custom text and be ready to go with a professional-looking book.

Licenses start at $59 regularly, but certain designs do go on sale from time to time.

17. 99Designs

At 99Designs, you can pick from a selection of custom-designed covers to find the perfect one for your book. Start by filling out a questionnaire so designers can get an idea of what you’re looking for. Designers submit their ideas, and after a few rounds of feedback, you pick the winner.

Packages start at $299, with more expensive packages guaranteeing more designs to choose from and more expert designers. You can also choose the “hire a designer” option to work with a designer of your choosing directly; estimated pricing starts at $249 and runs to $699.

18. DIY Book Covers

This resource gives you access to everything you need to design a beautiful book cover: Tutorials, fonts, easy-to-edit templates, promotional materials, and more.

No design skills are necessary to create a unique cover to fit your book!

19. SelfPubBookCovers.com

SelfPubBookCovers.com boasts a huge selection of pre-made book covers that are ready for you to customize and download immediately. Once you buy a book cover it is never sold again, ensuring your book is one of a kind.

Covers start as low as $69.

Marketing 20. Author Marketing Club

Want to sell more books? Jim Krukal knows that is takes a village to get your self-published book off the ground. In this community, members get access to tools, promotional opportunities, video courses, and other resources that help with everything from formatting your Amazon description to finding more reviewers.

A lifetime membership to the Author Marketing Club costs just $97, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you find you’re not satisfied.

21. Self Publishing Formula

Take a page from bestselling self-published author Mark Dawson, who leveraged Facebook advertising to grow his list and sell more books. You can do it too!

This masterclass also covers metadata, finding your perfect audience, and building automation sequences that introduces new readers to your writing. Choose between 12 monthly payments of $49 or a one-time sum of $497 — both of which come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

22. BookDoggy

Martin Crosbie is an Amazon success story, having sold tens of thousands of copies of his self-published books and entering the ranks of Amazon’s top ten overall bestseller list. In his book, How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle, Crosbie shares the secrets to his success.

Crosbie offers promotional services for free ebooks at his website, BookDoggy, starting at $14 per listing. But not every book will be eligible. “We would love to accept every submission we receive,” say the requirements, “but we only pick books that we think our readers will enjoy. This takes into account the genre our readers are requesting as well as the professionalism of the product – cover, blurb, formatting, and editing of the content.” (Some erotica is accepted, however!)

23. Write. Publish. Repeat.

In this book, independent authors Sean Platt, Johnny Truant and David Wright share their “no-luck-required” secrets to selling books. They take a business approach to publishing, and believe that when you start to think of your book as a business, you’ll be a self-publishing success in no time.

Give their Self-Publishing Podcast a listen.

Distribution 24. How To Choose A Self Publishing Service 2018

It’s hard to figure out which self-publishing distribution service one is right for you — and if it’s going to provide the best customer experience. This $9.99 book from the Alliance of Independent Authors reviews and compares all the players in self-publishing, like Kindle, Createspace, Author Solutions, Lulu, IngramSpark, Apple iBooks, and more. It’s also available for the Kindle for just $4.99.

25. E-junkie

E-junkie is a well-established service for authors who want to sell directly to their audiences on their own platforms. It’s easy to get started: Set up your account, upload your product to E-junkie and embed a shopping cart wherever you want to sell your book. E-junkie handles the rest.

Authors pay a monthly subscription depending on how many products you offer. Since there aren’t any transaction fees, you can make unlimited sales without having to pay extra.

26. Gumroad

Gumroad offers a clean, customizable platform to sell your digital and physical products, and it’s a recent favorite among self-published authors who want to sell directly. Gumroad provides community-building support as well as a profile feature, so your audience can see all your works at once.

Pricing starts at $10 per month, which includes unlimited bandwidth.

27. Draft2Digital

Draft2Digital makes distributing your book easy. Create an account, upload your book, set a price, and choose where you want to sell. Draft2Digital works with many major book vendors, including Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Scribd, and CreateSpace.

At Draft2Digital, everything about your book and distribution platforms is in one easy place. Though there aren’t any set-up or monthly costs, they keep about 10 percent of the sales price whenever you sell a copy of your book.

28. Smashwords

As the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks, Smashwords lets you bypass having to deal with multiple author platforms by letting you upload your book and immediately start selling at more than 20 ebook retailers.

Authors have control over pricing, marketing and sampling of their book, and Smashwords offers free marketing and sales reporting tools to help you make the most of your launch. Smashwords is free to get started, and they only get paid when your books sell.

It depends on the retailer, but generally you get to keep 60-80 percent of each sale.

Self-publishers, what are your favorite resources from this list? What would you add?

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

The post 28 Resources, Tools and Tips for Self-Publishing Your Next Book appeared first on The Write Life.

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When someone asks me what kind of movie I’m in the mood for, my answer will — 100 percent of the time — be “rom com.”

While I couldn’t make it halfway through the abridged version of “Jane Eyre” and I still don’t know how “Old Yeller” ends, I can zip through a sweet romance novel in a week.

I’m not supposed to admit that, probably, because I’m a writer.

I should appreciate the classics, complicated literary fiction and Oscar-winning screenplays. But I prefer bite-size entertainment.

And, so everyone will stop judging my mass-market paperbacks and Jennifer-Aniston-strewn Netflix history, I’ll argue it’s actually good for my writing, too.

If you need an excuse to put down “Infinite Jest” and enjoy a beach read this summer, here are some ways consuming bad stories can actually make you a better writer.

1. The story structure is obvious

The easiest critique of rom coms is we all know how they’ll end.

Boy meets girl. Girl hates boy for a few chapters. Boy does something sweet girl doesn’t expect (but we totally did). Girl falls for boy. Boy screws up, but we beg girl to forgive him, because by now we’re rooting for them. She forgives him, and they finally kiss once. The end.

No one watches or reads a romantic comedy to be surprised.

As readers, we enjoy the familiarity. As writers, we can learn from it.

When you’re new to fiction writing, story structure is hard. You think you know what a story arc looks like…but it’s not that easy, is it? And if you don’t hit the right notes at the right points, even amazing characters and a killer premise will fall flat.

In cheesy writing, the plot points are obvious. We see them coming, because they follow a tried and true formula: Conflict, climax, resolution.

Non-cheesy stories follow the formula, too — it’s just harder to see.

Watch predictable movies and read breezy books to familiarize yourself with story structure. Even your most creative and unique story should hit those important plot points.

Bonus points: Watch a trilogy (“Pitch Perfect,” anyone?), because the formula is even more obvious when you see it repeated by the same characters three times over.

2. The writer’s fingerprints are all over it

Beyond cheesy, formulaic writing, there’s just plain bad writing. This is where you can really hone your skills.

Bad fiction writing is rife with traces of the writer.

You sense when a character’s monologue about the breakdown of Western values is basically a personal essay from the author. You feel their valiant attempt at making the relationship between the mother and daughter fraught and relatable. You read oddly placed dialogue as an obvious spoiler for a later plot point.

Good stories don’t feel like they’ve been written. They feel like they just are.

When you read or watch good stories, you get lost in them. It’s tough to think like a writer and learn from them, because you’re so busy enjoying them.

You don’t have to mimic bad techniques to learn from them. Understand what the writer was trying to do — character development, connection with the reader, foreshadowing — and note how they can work into your own stories.

3. You can make it better

Learning what not to do is just as important as learning what to do.

I’ve hardly met a writer who doesn’t lament typos in published novels or the misuse of “lay” in a script. Some of us have even been known to keep a pencil nearby while we read.

Put that writer’s eye to use to recognize bad writing and make it better. Go beyond typos, and note weak sentence structure. Figure out why your eyes gloss over at a piece of dialogue. Recognize poor organization within chapters.

Rewriting bad books could be a great exercise to strengthen your writing muscles.

4. It’s easier to see what’s wrong in bad writing than what’s right in good writing

Good writing is solid inspiration, yes. We should all enjoy it and aspire to put more of it into the world. But it’s hard to learn from.

Good writing is inimitable. If you set out to write a Woody Allen movie, you’re going to fail.

If we could all pinpoint exactly what makes incredible writing so incredible, we’d all be Woody Allen. Or Charles Dickens. Or Dave Eggers. But it’s tough to map a formula for that kind of writing.

Instead, watch a B rom com, dissect the predictable plot and shallow characters and figure out how you could uniquely do that story better.

For a new fiction writer, working some depth into “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” is a way more realistic starting point than trying to write the next “Casablanca.”

Enjoy your guilty pleasures — guilt-free

Next time you want to while away the weekend in the chick lit section of the library, do it without shame. It’s more than an escape from the depth of work and life you deal with day to day — it’s an important step in your development as a writer.

What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned from cheesy movies or bad fiction?

The post 4 Ways Reading “Bad Writing” Can Actually Make You a Stronger Writer appeared first on The Write Life.

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In this age of online everything, your web presence can make or break your freelance career — especially if you’re just starting out.

If prospective clients don’t know you by reputation, they need a quick, easy way to suss out your work, your style and your level of professionalism. While social media accounts can do wonders (having a few thousand Twitter followers never hurt a freelancer’s credibility), you’ll need more than that as your online calling card.

That’s where your online portfolio comes into play. In general, a website that promotes your freelance writing needs to have two things going for it:

  • Uncluttered design: If a prospective client can’t find what they need in less than 10 seconds, you’ve got too much going on. You’ve lost their attention…and a potential gig.
  • Easy-to-read clips: If someone is looking to hire you, their main goal in coming to your site is to read your work and see if they like it. Make it simple for them!

A website that fulfills these two basic criteria is not that hard to create, and you’ve got lots of good portfolio design tools to help you get there. We’ve looked at how Pinterest works as a writing portfolio, but here are six more of the best platforms to highlight your work and help you land your next freelance writing job:

1. Journo Portfolio

On Journo Portfolio, you can create a modern, no-fuss online portfolio. The dashboard is easy to use: customize your site’s look with six distinct themes, and sort your clips into any number of pages or content blocks.

One of the other nice features is the range of ways you can share materials: link directly to clips (just type in the URL and Journo Portfolio will grab the title, publication, date, and content), or upload almost any kind of multimedia, including PDFs, videos and images.

Cool Feature: This platform allows you to blog directly onto Journo Portfolio. That way, you can use to site to highlight your past work and as a personal blog. Say goodbye to managing multiple platforms!

Price: FREE for a name.journoportfolio.com URL (10 articles max), or $5 to $10 per month for the pro versions (which include unlimited pages, article back-ups, and the ability to use your own domain, like www.yourname.com).

2. Clippings.me

Clippings.me was created explicitly for the freelance journalist. It gives you a quick and easy way to show off as many clips as you want, and add just enough detail about yourself to make you seem human. Like Journo Portfolio, you can add links, upload PDFs or embed multimedia pieces, including podcasts.

Clippings.me also offers an open journalism directory where you can list beats you cover and (hopefully) gain access to more prospective clients.

Cool Feature: Simplicity is the name of the game. If you just need to get your work online and aren’t too worried about customization, this is a great choice.

Price: FREE for the basic version (16 articles max), $4.99-$11.99 per month for the pro version (which include unlimited clippings, custom domains, and features like resume hosting).

3. Muck Rack

Muck Rack is a media database that helps connect journalists and PR pros — and their platform gives writers a slick way to easily showcase their work.

The best part? Because Muck Rack creates and maintains the portfolio for you (by automatically compiling articles, outlets, and social media profiles) this is one of the easiest options in terms of both set-up and maintenance. You can customize your page by adding a bio, listing your beats, and spotlighting your best pieces.

Cool Feature: As a writer on Muck Rack, you’re likely to receive a lot of PR pitches. One awesome related feature is the ability to post the specific topics or beats you don’t cover — which limits the number of off-target pitches coming your way.

Price: FREE for journalists.

4. Pressfolios

Pressfolios is another portfolio site targeted squarely at journalists. It sells itself on two features:

  • The ability to easily show off your work: It’s extremely user-friendly and a good option for less technically-inclined.
  • The ability to back up your work: Every time you upload a piece, Pressfolios automatically clips a PDF version and saves it to the cloud. That way, you don’t have to worry about your writing disappearing even if the original websites go down.

Cool Feature: Pressfolios has a Google Chrome extension that lets you add to your portfolio with one click from a story’s source.

Price: $9.99 per month for the LITE version (up to 250 articles), and $14.99 per month for the Pro version (which includes unlimited stories and a custom domain name)

5. Squarespace

Squarespace is a slick drag-and-drop website builder that offers a stellar visual experience. While this isn’t a traditional portfolio site (nor is it targeted solely at writers), it’s a really good choice if you incorporate design or graphics into your work.

Their templates give off a clean, minimalistic and sophisticated vibe. And their responsive design is rock solid — an important factor when prospective clients want to view your writing on their phones or tablets. While there are many website building tools — like Wix and Weebly — Squarespace comes out ahead for its sleek visual design.

Cool Feature: Squarespace’s 24/7 client support (via email or live chat from Monday-Friday) is top-notch. Being able to communicate with a real human being when you have a question or issue can make freelance life that much easier.  

Price: $12-$26 per month for pro versions (which all include unlimited pages, storage, and a free custom domain).

6. WordPress.com

WordPress is the granddaddy of content management platforms. While not specifically geared towards writer portfolios, the joy of WordPress is that you can do pretty much anything you want with it. It’s available as a totally free, no-frills blog; a paid version with more bells and whistles; or the “install-it-yourself-and-do-whatever-the-hell-you-like setup,” as web editor Jon Norris put it.

Your standard WordPress themes aren’t ideal for portfolio work, but search Google for “WordPress portfolio themes” and you’ll have everything you could ask for — WordPress even offers this dedicated portfolio splash page! This is a great platform for people who want lots of options and total creative control (and who don’t mind fussing around with a little CSS).

Cool Feature: Since WordPress is so adaptable, it can be a good place to start if you think you may want something beyond a portfolio site somewhere down the line. That way, when you realize that you want to be both a freelance writer and photographer you’re not stuck on a platform where you can’t show off your other skills.

Price: FREE for a basic blog, the sky’s the limit for more creative options.

What are some of your favorite examples of freelance portfolios?

This post was originally published in August 2014. We updated it in June 2018.

The post 6 Great Portfolio Sites for Freelance Writers appeared first on The Write Life.

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“Trying to make it as a freelance writer is scary AF.”

With a subject line that bold (and accurate), I wasted no time in opening the email. It was from a young woman who’d recently graduated with a dual degree in English and journalism, asking me how, how, how in the world do I make a living this way?

It wasn’t the first time I’d received an email to this effect, which feels patently insane. If you’d told me just two years ago I’d be earning my keep as a full-time freelancer — let alone giving advice on the subject — I’d likely have laughed in your face. I was working a staff writing gig at the time, and had never so much as drafted a pitch to an outside publication.

I only got brave enough to start submitting ideas after lots of encouragement from my good friend (and fellow TWL writer!) Susan Shain. Thanks again, Susan.

Now, I’ve got over a year of working for myself under my belt — a year in which I actually earned more than I did as a staffer. I enjoy location independence and a workday uniform of yoga pants and tee-shirts, so it’s no surprise that fielding the how do you do it? question has become a common conversation.

But it’s never easy to answer.

So really though — how do you do become a full-time freelance writer?

Here’s the thing.

There’s no guaranteed, step-by-step process that will land you the freelance writing career of your dreams. Ask 10 different writers, and you’ll get 10 different how-I-made-it stories — or, more accurately, how-I’m-making-it-up-as-I-go-along stories.

The actual mechanics of the thing are pretty simple, though not easy: Have good ideas, be good at explicating them clearly, and spend lots of time and energy on the Sisyphean footwork of finding publications that will pay you to publish them. (And convincing them to do so.)

As you’ve likely already discovered, this blog is a great resource for figuring out these logistics and improving your skills at each level. Check out, for instance, our posts on writing awesome pitches, figuring out who to send them to and tightening your drafts’ copy.

As far as stringing it into a full-time living, though, I’ll be honest with you: A *lot* of it is luck, and also getting very cozy with rejection. If I get a positive response for just 10-15% of my pitches, I count that as a huge win.

But if you have your heart set on making it as a freelance writer, there are some actionable steps you can take to make it happen. Here’s my best advice.

1. Use your education

If you’ve yet to go to college or are still in the process of earning your degree, you may want to consider formal studies that will help you achieve your goal.

Contrary to popular opinion, an English degree can be profitable, and the same is true of other writing-intensive majors like creative writing, communications and journalism.

Studying humanities flexes your rhetorical muscles, which will make you a much better writer and pitcher. Plus, these programs lend you the soft skills employers look for — which is good, since you’ll likely need a day job while you’re finding a way to make the whole yoga-pants-forever thing work.

If college is already in the rear view, you might also consider grad school. But be careful. The additional expense won’t guarantee you work down the line, and if you’re already dealing with student loans, you could just be digging the hole deeper. In the case of freelancing, it’s more about experience and practice than the fancy pedigree.

Fortunately, if you’re aching to go back to school, you don’t have to go broke to do it. Many MA, MFA and PhD programs come with tuition waivers, provided you teach, or assist in teaching, a number of undergrad classes while you study. You can also find fellowships, scholarships and other forms of loan-free financial aid if you’re diligent.

Or, for a more DIY approach to education, consider checking out a course on a site like Skillshare.

2. Consider starting with a staff job

Yes, I know: Finding an editorial position — or any job, really — is easier said than done.

But websites and publications do hire writers, and getting a full-time position will give you two amazing, irreplicable benefits: an instant stack of clips and a world of hands-on education you just can’t get any other way.

Working closely with editors and other creatives every day will make you a better writer, period; if you work for a digital publication (likely), you’re bound to get some SEO training and other know-how in the bargain. I know for a fact I owe my success to my tenure at The Penny Hoarder, whose managing editor — Alexis Grant, who also started this website — essentially handed me a writing career whole cloth in hiring me.

3. Get out there and start pitching

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” – Neil Gaiman

At the end of the day, the only way to become a freelance writer…is to start writing.

That means taking a pretty scary leap: You’ve got to start pitching publications and applying for gigs even if you don’t have many clips to speak of. Hey, everyone’s a beginner at the beginning.

Of course, even if you’ve never published professional work, there are other ways to showcase your writing prowess. Do you have a personal blog or website? A killer short story that hasn’t found a home quite yet? Maybe even a particularly well-wrought essay from college? I applied for The Penny Hoarder with a short memoir I wrote in grad school and — I kid you not — wine-tasting notes. Most employers and clients are more concerned with whether or not you’ve got the goods than where you’ve managed to land them.

Not sure where to start when it comes to finding paid writing jobs? Check out these 10 online gold mines for finding freelance writing gigs.

4. Know this: the work isn’t always glamorous

When I tell people I’m a freelance writer, they often think I’m publishing exclusively in glossy magazines with chic, single-word titles. The closest I’ve come to that, so far, is Yahoo! — a byline I’m very happy with, but whose trademarked exclamation point does not exactly bespeak elegance or sophistication.

The bulk of my paying work is far less illustrious, but critical for rounding out my bank account. Website copy, SEO work and listicle-style blog posts aren’t what anyone dreams of when they feel the pull of the pen, but they’re some of the most reliable ways for freelance writers to pay the bills. Many businesses can provide a steady stream of this kind of work, becoming the anchor clients by which you build a semi-reliable paycheck.

The idea is to pick up as much of this bread-and-butter work as you need to survive, and then use the rest of your time to pitch those dreamy projects you can’t wait to work on. It can be a hard balance to strike, but even un-fun writing always counts as valuable practice. You’ll hone your craft and earn your keep all while amassing more clips — and better chops — to show off when you’re pitching the big boys. Then, you can slowly scale up to working exclusively on better-paid, more interesting content.

5. Networking: Yup, it’s a thing for writers, too

As a serious-business introvert, “networking” has always felt like a four-letter word to me. In fact, I was drawn to freelancing in large part because it got me away from the noisy, crowded office environment. (I love you, The Penny Hoarder folks, but ya’ll are *not* quiet.)

Nevertheless, my first major client — the one that made quitting my day job possible, and whose work still makes up a sizable percentage of my income — was an opportunity I landed in part because of a shared connection. I’ve also written web copy for gym acquaintances, friends and family members, which were gainful projects both financially and in broadening my experience.

The Write Life’s managing editor Jessica Lawlor blogs about how she landed her first freelance client, as well as the ones she found thereafter. From sorority sisters to Twitter friends to existing professional connections, nearly every single story involves networking.

Case in point: Don’t overlook any of your current social spheres when it comes to writing opportunities, and get ready to actively work to increase them. Everyone needs the written word sometimes!

6. Market yourself

The networking we were talking about? It’s a whole lot easier and more effective if you have a proper business presence.

Websites, personal blogs, business cards, work-specific (or at least -friendly) social media accounts and portfolios are the best ways to show off and get the word out about your skills. And besides, they’ll make you feel way more legitimate. (Side note: Impostor Syndrome is totally a thing in this business, so get ready.)

There’s lots of advice here about creating your own blog and setting up a website, but as far as a portfolio is concerned, I recommend Contently. Not only is it a clean, easy-to-use digital showcase, but it can also land you valuable work: the platform matches editors with writers and other content creators based on specific beats and skill sets. I’ve earned literally thousands of dollars simply because I chose to use it.

7. Expect the unexpected

Fickle income, weird hours, totally unmitigated refrigerator access — working for yourself is a strange and sometimes dangerous world.

At the very least, you’ll want to prepare yourself financially for things like invoicing clients and managing income flow and expenses, paying your own taxes, buying your own health care and funding your own retirement. And for even the best writers, clients come and go, so be sure to build up a significant cushion for those inevitable dry periods.

It’s also a good idea to impose rules to lend your otherwise-loosey-goosey day structure — like deciding you’ll only write at your desk as opposed to your couch, for instance, or making yourself put on real pants for the duration of your work day. (Or maybe not. Let’s not get crazy.)

If I had to summarize it all in brief, I’d say this: Becoming a freelance writer requires equal parts semi-pathological levels of type-A dedication, boundless curiosity, and total insensitivity to rejection.

Oh, and luck. A lot of luck.

But like all of the best things in life, even though it’s not an easy journey, the road to the write life is definitely one worth taking — and one we’re excited to help you travel.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

The post How to Become a Freelance Writer: A Newbie’s Guide to Earn Money Writing appeared first on The Write Life.

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