I began working on my first nonfiction book in 2009. Its working title is The Query-Free Freelancer. I set up a site and blog for the work-in-progress at QueryFreeFreelancer.com. That site is now a part of All Freelance Writing. You can get updates on my progress on the book, view sample chapters as they’re released, and get insights into the query-free freelancing way of life by reading posts in the book category here on the blog.
The concept for The Query-Free Freelancer came from years actively involved in the freelance writing community through networks, forums, and this freelance writing blog. With an emphasis on helping those new to the freelance writing industry (or those hoping to pursue it), I’ve come across the same questions and complaints repeatedly.
“I can’t find any decent-paying freelance writing jobs!”
“How am I supposed to make a living when clients take weeks or months to pay me (especially in the beginning)?”
“Grrrr! If I see one more $5 freelance writing job, I’m going to scream!”
Okay. That last one was mine. But still. You get the idea.
Now more than ever (especially since the economy went to hell) people are looking for new ways to earn a living whether by choice or having it thrust upon them. Yet when they consider freelance writing, they find reasons to be discouraged early on.
The Initial Slap in the Face
If someone wants to write for the Web, they have to dig through countless low-paying job offers. I’m not talking about the $.10 or $.20 per word variety of low-paying jobs either. I’m talking about clients who want to pay less than a penny per word for search engine optimized content (often not caring if the content is even understood by readers). The high-paying jobs are out there, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince many who haven’t found them yet.
If someone wants to write for corporate clients, they’re often told to get on the phone. Cold calls baby. Oh yeah! Pitch! Pitch! Pitch! I remember the dread that would come over me at that prospect (and hell, I’m a former PR pro – I love talking, I love persuading, but man do I hate cold calling). It just isn’t something many writers are comfortable with.
If someone wants to write for magazines, well uh oh, they’re in for a surprise. Not only do they often have to wait weeks or months after completing an assignment to be paid, but it may take weeks (and unpaid writing, read: query letters) just to land an assignment in the first place. It’s not the most enticing prospect to someone serious about writing for a living who needs to earn that living, um, now. And please don’t give me the “if they’re serious they’ll suck it up and do it” line either–I’m not buying what you’re selling.
In Steps Query-Free Freelancing
I feel bad for those who want to pursue freelance writing, but who feel they can’t because of the old fashioned (and frankly absurd) information thrown at them from day one. I mean really. These people have families to feed (or maybe just a cat or two if they’re like me). They can’t work for weeks or months without seeing any kind of financial reward. How do I know this? Because they tell me so all the friggin’ time!
Fortunately, there’s hope. No one has to rely on the sometimes long query process to attract freelance writing clients. You can earn a decent living as a query-free freelancer.
There is no single right way to earn your living as a freelance writer. There’s nothing wrong with preferring the query-based approach (and if having your name in print magazines is a major priority, you may not have much of a choice). But there are other options, and query-free freelancing is one of them that many writers either aren’t aware of or perceive to be much more difficult than it really is.
Is query-free freelancing right for you? Hopefully The Query-Free Freelancer will help you figure that out.
The book still has a long way to go until completion, but I plan to take a somewhat unconventional approach with it. Tools and excerpts may be shared here at All Freelance Writing along the way, and I may even publish the full book proposal when finished, as I move on to write the rest of the book (putting my own query-free principles to the test in a different arena, moving from freelancing to publishing). I hope you’ll stick around and experience it with me!
Update: I have since decided to indie publish The Query-Free Freelancer rather than pursuing a traditional publisher. Find out why!