Tips for getting published as a freelance writer

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So you’re ready to make the leap and get published in something besides your blog or church newsletter. You’re probably excited, anxious and slightly confused at the same time, overwhelmed by all of the possibilities and wondering where to begin. Having been one of those excited, anxious and slightly confused writers, I have lots of advice to offer. While I’ll save the mechanics of writing a pitch for another post, I do want to give you some general advice on getting published and building a thriving freelance writing career.

For starters, I’d suggest you buy Jenna Glatzer’s book “Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer.” It covers all the basics of building a freelance writing business and has some excellent info on pitching.

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Where to find freelance writing work: Websites, job boards and newsletters

If you’re a freelance writer in search of work — and really, what freelance writer isn’t? — try these options:

Craigslist – The obvious source for freelance writing work, and just about anything else you can think of. Remember that when searching for writing/editing jobs in the city of your choice, also check out “Writing” under the “gigs” section for more writing work.

My experience: I’ve scored lots of paid writing gigs on Craiglist, from magazine work to writing press releases. My secret to success lies in following the following tips.


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9 things you need to succeed as a freelance writer

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To make a successful living as a freelance writer, you’ll need some key basics in your arsenal. Some of them are tangible and others, not so much, but they’re all necessary to making a steady living in the independent, creative, and sometimes unpredictable world of freelance writing.

In no particular order, here’s what I’ve found you need to succeed as a freelance writer:

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Media Relations 101: A ridiculously detailed guide to writing a good press release

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Chances are you probably understand the value of good press. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here trying to find out how to write a good press release.

It’s true — the press can be your best friend. Or, it can be that hot guy (or girl) in high school who ignored you. The difference depends largely on the quality of the press release you write. I’m here to tell you how to write a good one.

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Why Rick Ross won’t answer hard questions

Rick Ross

Anyone who follows me on Twitter probably caught my rant about this earlier today. But I wanted to express my ideas in more coherent and complete form.

Rap journalist Ernest Baker recently published a piece for Noisey called “I Had To Stop Interviewing Rick Ross Because He Can’t Handle Hard Questions.” The title is pretty self-explanatory. During an interview, Baker tried to ask Ross a question touching on the rapper’s rapey lyric from “UOENO.” Ross threw a low-key rap tantrum, dodged the question and shut the interview down, presumably so he could deal with a journalist who wouldn’t reference anything but his greatness.

The experience caused Baker to question the state of rap journalism and conclude that “a superstar rapper’s inability to be real is why rap journalism is a fucked up game”…continue reading at Rap Rehab.

A few thoughts about writer’s block, denial and facing the truth

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As a writer I need to write about all aspects of my life: the good, the bad and the ugly. I need to feel like I can express myself freely. When the writing is good, it doesn’t come from me so much as through me; I’m a vessel through which the words flow and I just try to catch up to the thoughts racing through my mind and get them all on paper.

The writing hasn’t flowed like that for some time. I’ve been blocked. I’ve blocked myself. I’ve deliberately avoided writing about certain aspects of my life — namely, the darker ones — or I’ve written about them infrequently and shared them with almost no one. Partly to spare other people, but mostly to spare myself.

When you reveal certain things about your life, people look at you differently. I don’t want people to look at me differently. I don’t people to be offended. I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want advice or suggestions on how to get over my grief; it’s quite possible that by the time I’ve shared my writing with other people I’ve already gotten over the bulk of my grief. And maybe what I’m most afraid of is total silence, no reaction at all, my words rendered insignificant in a sea of bloggers talking about nail polish, Justin Bieber and Reality TV.

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Nothing left to say

[Written sometime in 2011…]

There comes a time when there’s nothing left to say because you’ve said it all before, nothing left to process because processing won’t change the truth. It’s a truth that wakes you up in the middle of the night, a truth that surprises you when you’re driving and your mind drifts to other topics, and you snap back to reality and remember that reality now includes your mother’s suicide.

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The problem with hip hop journalism

Most hip hop journalists these days fall into two camps, neither of which has much to do with journalism.

The first camp includes press release aggregators and groupie types who act more like publicists than journalists. These writers attend all the right parties, score all the right interviews, blindly co-sign “hot” artists, post new singles as soon as they receive them and act as virtual mouthpieces for record labels, never questioning the direction of the culture or the artists who represent it.

They invite readers to look, listen and click, but not think. When confronted about the ills of hip hop, these “journalists” will make endless excuses in defense of rap and why they aren’t addressing deeper issues in their reporting – and they have to make these excuses, because their livelihood and status depend on rap’s popularity.

On the other end of the spectrum are “cultural tourists” at so-called hipster magazines. These writers know little about hip hop as a culture, have only scant association with the community it springs from and subconsciously gravitate toward ignorant strains of rap because they’re more comfortable with black stereotypes and caricatures than real people…continue reading at

The man sleeping in the grocery store

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It’s 9 o’clock on a Wednesday night, and I’m at the grocery store to get cat food. I walk in and see a display of patio furniture with a man sitting in one of the chairs. He almost looks like part of the display, except for the fact that he’s slumped over with a brown bag in his hand.

He is apparently drunk and probably homeless. I keep walking toward the cat food aisle, but now I’m thinking about him, wondering how long he’s been there and how much longer he’ll stay asleep under that canopy before someone kicks him out.

As it turns out, it’s not long. By the time I get to the checkout line, two female employees — a teenager and a middle-aged woman — have confronted him. “Sir, you can’t be here,” says the middle-aged one. Without a word, he shuffles out of the store, brown bag in hand. I look at them, and they look at each other wordlessly, and then they walk back to wherever they were before.

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