Has writing always been your passion? Are you looking for a successful career as a freelance writer in India? Read on….
This article not only provides invaluable tips for budding freelance writers, but also tackles the following issues:
· The freelance writing market in India
· Branding yourself as a freelance writer online
· How to submit articles to various publications
· How to handle rejection
· How to network with other Indian freelance writers
· Top Freelance writing websites in India
Do you often receive mails from publications saying ‘While your article is very interesting, we find that it does not fit in with the style and ethos of our magazine…’ or ‘we have just carried articles on topics similar to yours a while ago and deeply regret our inability…?’
Do you then listlessly, go back to the grueling job of looking for other publications while seeking, searching and surfing an indifferent market for that one editor who may accept your article and actually pay you for it?
As any freelance writer worth his ink knows, getting established as a respected writer is a daunting task. As for earning a living from it, nah! (Does anyone make a living from writing alone???) In this dog eat dog world, ‘respect’ is still forthcoming only to that writer who draws a regular wage from an accredited newspaper, magazine or tech company and not to the immensely talented freelancer who doesn’t have a single published article to his credit.
A career in freelance writing is not a cakewalk
To succeed, a freelance writer must swallow his pride, his acute disappointment and keep knocking doors with renewed energy. He needs to, like Robert Bruce, try and try again till he eventually succeeds in catching the imagination of a discerning, wage earning editor who can help get his name up in print, cyber or otherwise. More often than not, this salaried genius of an editor pays him a pittance or not at all.
Moreover, ideas upon ideas and hour upon hour of creativity can all be junked at the click of an editor’s delete button. Being a famous freelance writer may be your goal, but the path you must take is disheartening, to say the least. You know, you are good but unfortunately those who control the paying market may not think so and with Lady Luck playing truant when you need her most you are back to playing SCRABBLE with your other unemployed friends!
But it is not so bad either!
Take heart all you brave freelancers. Things are about to change .In fact they have already changed. The print media alone not dominate any more; the Internet is akin to Ali Baba’s cave as far as writing jobs are concerned. The good news is there are more publications and websites looking for writers than ever before. Professionalism combined with payment ethics together with the world of ‘outsourcing’ has made ‘writing’ a highly lucrative career. Work-from-home freelance writers, especially web content writers, are a much sought after tribe these days and before you know it, healthy ‘respect’ may follow too and yes needless to say the moolah will come in as well!
Become a specialist
Today the demand is for good ‘niche writers’. Restrictive though it is, like everything else, even here, the need for specialization is at an all time high. Travel writers, Creative writers, Copywriters, Resume writers, Content writers, Technical writers, Essay writers, you name it, and there is a market for it. If you are slowly able to, after a few initial experiments, carve out a niche for yourself by specializing in any one such field and you get published (usually without payment first!) you are almost there. Once you manage to sell your ideas, you are home and running.
How to get started
Your best bet is to email/call up editors and constantly surf the net for opportunities. Make Search Engines (Google, yahoo) your trusted lieutenants and use them to help you seek, search and finally apply to advertised or possible opportunities.
If you find good websites you could write for, look for submission guidelines or send in your query. A query letter is not a waste of time. On an average three out of every five will elicit some kind of a response that will take you forward.
Though it is usual practice in established writing circles not to start writing till an understanding is reached, you the newbie can take no chances. So, till you have sufficient work, give them what they’ve asked for, quickly, whatever the subject, or send them something you have already written. Odds are that they will use it and pay you with a nice “Thank you for your submission’ letter or not at all, but if rejected or if you don’t hear from them ever again, which is highly likely, don’t lose heart. Move on. Just keep those articles as ready-reckoner samples for later use. Stockpile them in a folder for the future, to be sent on to other editors who may seek samples of your written work.
If they are freelance writing markets, narrow in on the popular ones. Subscribe to their newsletters. Most of them are free. It will give you a fair idea of their reliability. Generally avoid those that promise you the moon. Look for those that seem sincere. But do not subscribe or pay for anything till you are sure of a website’s credentials. Also, remember to check out the various published lists of dishonest and fly-by-night operators often. Soon you will be able to sift the wheat from the chaff.
Occasionally, you might also find your article published without you getting a cent of the promised amount or worse, published under another writer’s name. And oh yes, it could also undergo a complete makeover (usually, very ineptly) so much so, you might not even recognize it as your own barring the name. It could very likely put you off writing, totally. The print media specially is notorious for this! But that is a hazard you must realize, that comes with your occupation. Though new laws are being introduced and forums being convened to prevent such occurrences, there is very little one can do, to actually thwart them, other than avoiding such sites and magazines in the future.
Patience Pays (Literally!)
So your article was rejected?
Disappointments and rejections not withstanding you need to keep your spirits up and patiently continue to write everyday – about something, about anything!
Never stop. Never give up. Also don’t sell yourself short. It is only a matter of time before your articles start finding a market, eventually on your terms
Do not get bitter with an editor because he/she rejected your article. Try and build relationships with your editors. Send them query letters every now and then gently remind them you exist! More often than not you may get no reply. But persist. Who knows, they might just remember to call on your services when the need arises. Or your email might reach them at a time when they are looking for someone with your skills. And when they start contacting you to get articles written, they start paying too. Slowly but surely you will soon start finding more and more of your contributions in print/uploaded and along with this will come ‘recognition’. And this recognition will soon translate your output into bucks even if it is not instantly megabucks. And then you the lowly work-from-home freelance writer would have arrived.
Ways to network
You could also pick up many a useful tip by becoming a member of various interesting writing communities and lists (Yahoo, Msn etc) on the web .And you will realize that you are not the only freelance-writer out there plowing a lonely furlough. It makes for a great sense of belonging and helps hone your creative skills.
Online freelance writing markets for Indian writers
While there are no guarantees that your article will find a home instantly or that all sites on the net are legitimate, there are many sites and publications that do accept and survive on freelance submissions .You need to sift through them to pick the genuine ones and choose those that will suit your purpose. And just as there are many sites, which insist on a membership or subscription fee to check out their market database there are also many that post interesting, paying offers -free!
Of special interest to both writers and corporates is the Indian website Chillibreeze. The Chillibreeze network of writers includes talented individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Operating out of India but spanning the world through the web, it matches writers and projects quite effectively. Chillibreeze is devoted entirely to the savvy freelance writer! The writer selection process takes into account several factors including the writer’s profile and the quality of the sample submitted to our website. Says Dr. Nishi Viswanathan, Chief Content Officer of Chillibreeze, “Chillibreeze gives Indian writers an arena to showcase their talent and work with clients from all over the world. Our writers love the flexibility and freedom we offer them. Every article written by a writer at Chillibreeze goes through a meticulous process of editing and QC before it is sent to the client, so our clients receive high quality error-free content. We are growing at a steady rate and are well on our way to becoming one of India’s top content companies. Hope we are able to provide more opportunities for Indian writers in the coming years.”
According to Dr. Viswanathan, Chillibreeze will soon launch a new website exclusively for Indian freelance writers.
Visit the Chillibreeze website for more details.
This is a freelancing job portal for Indian freelance writers. While Projects posted here appear to be genuine the website also allows you to post your profile for free. The team at Freelanceindia describes the portal as a website “For freelancers, to unleash their potential and avail of the global opportunities and in turn get best dues for their skills professionally and financially.”
This is another freelance writing portal that is India specific but this website is not very user friendly. Writers bid for projects and the lowest bid wins. Often, writers end up getting paid a pittance.
This is a website that targets journalists, users of the media including lay readers and viewers, students and teachers of journalism and communications. It also attempts to provide tools for communities and individuals to interact with the media. According to the team at thehoot, the website “will attempt to hold a mirror to the way journalists practice their craft in this region.”
Ten steps towards a successful career in freelance writing
· Surf the net every day for new opportunities regularly, both print as well as online media.
· Respond to as many postings as you can. Set an hour aside just for this each day.
· Send query letters to editors for topics you think you could write about
· Choose a few editors and ask them if you could write for them or send them what you’ve already written
· Start a dialogue with them. Forge a strong relationship with your editors.
· Enter as many contests as you can. The confidence you gain is tremendous.
· Become an active list member and use the forum as a sounding board.
· Patience and persistence will be your best assets.
· Keep writing and keep sending your pieces to various publications. Your masterpieces will eventually find a home!
· Don’t ever lose heart. Rejections are a writer’s stepping-stones to great success!
Looking for more resources? Hang on.
Chillibreeze.com will be launching a free online resource guide for Indian freelance writers. This short guide will include around 100 paying markets/websites that are both popular and freelance writer-friendly. Watch out for this valuable guide.
Good luck with your freelance writing career!