So, this is a bit different from what I usually post. My typical posts are usually about lifestyle content and things I am interested in like television shows, makeup, online shopping, and such. I have however gotten a lot of requests from people in Facebook groups I am in and from people in my personal life to do a post like this. I am also going to do a YouTube video in addition to it to go more in depth on my advice on how to start writing. So, here is my story of how I started freelance writing and how you can too.
So, I was not planning on building a portfolio or make money when I started doing this. I honestly just wanted to try and write about some topics I am interested in. I had been reading publications like Bustle and Hello Giggles for a while. I loved being able to read about different perspectives on topics I am interested in like feminism, anti-racism, and aspects of television and media that are fun to dissect.
The first time I pitched to a publication it was Bustle. I honestly did not think I would hear back, but I did and then I was so excited to write about my idea. The editor I worked with was super nice and really helped me create a good article. Plus getting paid was really nice too. This experience made me want to continue and send even more ideas out to some publications whose content I enjoyed.
Now onto my tips on how to get started. –
- Pitching – Pitching is obviously the first place you need to start. You can’t just send your ideas to one or two publications. I would aim for emailing 5-10 publications whenever you have ideas on a specific topic or issue. For example, I have written many articles on representation of marginalized groups in media. If I watch a tv show that has a black lead in it and I want to write an article on whether or not that character is well written I will send an email to a favorite site of mine like Black Youth Project but I would also find at least 5 other sites like it so not to put all of my eggs in one basket.
When emailing try to get straight to the point in your message. Basically say why you want to write for that particular publication and then list your ideas and contact information. You should also put in a little bit of information about yourself so they can know if you will be a good fit for their site.
Dear Bustle, I am writing to you because of my interest in writing for you all. I am a freelance writer and blogger who has written about a wide variety of subjects ranging from feminism to mental health issues. My pitches and contact information are listed below. If any of these ideas are of interest to you please let me know.
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- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Coming up with ideas – Something I have found is that if you pick a topic that you are truly passionate about then you won’t have a hard time coming up with article ideas. I tried so hard to write about things that were trendy and cool for a long time just so I could make more money and build my portfolio but what is the point of building a portfolio for potential editors and employers to see if those articles are not about anything you are passionate about? Self care and wellness articles do really well but they just aren’t my thing. Yet, when I think about social issues, anime, and media representation it is like the ideas just keep flooding into my brain.
I recommend keeping a list of some sort on hand. I like to write them down in a physical notebook but I also use the notes app on my phone when I think of one when I am out and about. Whatever works for you.
- Building a portfolio – In terms of the actual portfolio, you can use a platform like SquareSpace or Winx to make a really nice looking website to store all of your articles and the links to them. You can make it look really polished and put together. You could also just use WordPress, use a premade theme, and put your article links in a nice list. That is how I did mine. You can refer back to it if you want something to go off of. The link is here.
- Getting Paid – Now, for what many of you have been waiting for. Most big and small publications will have a set rate that they pay writers based on the type of article you write. The typical types of articles are personal essays, news articles, listicles, and analyses. Also the longer the article the more you get paid. This isn’t true across the board though. Some sites will just pay the same amount regardless. For example, I wrote an article for a smaller publication called Femsplain that had a set rate of 50 dollars.
The more you build up your portfolio the more you can afford to try and discuss your payment with publications and editors. In the beginning I would not but as you gain experience and credibility then you can ask for more.
That is all. Also, this is just based off of my experience. I am not perfect at writing but these tips have been helpful to me. If you have questions about anything I wrote or anything I did not mention leave them below.