With this post, I’m starting to revive my posting on this blog by talking more about my work as a freelance writer. I’ve been writing full-time for about a year and a half and making good progress in reaching better markets. My technical posts will continue to be in Mad File Format Science.
One of the first things I discovered is that writing on spec isn’t a good way to make a living. For a while I was writing for the Foundation for Economic Education, which accepted most of my submissions. They still list me as being on their Faculty Network, but I’ve stopped writing for them because they’ve stopped paying for articles. I’ve submitted some proposals to Reason, but without luck so far. Maybe I’ll get in eventually, but it’s not an easy way to get a regular income.
Fortunately, I have ample skills for writing about tech topics, and I’ve found a lot of work by request. I started out with BlogMutt, and I still get some of my income there. It’s not the best-paying market, but the staff and the writers on the forum provide a very supportive environment. WriterAccess has also provided me with work. If you’re accepted, you get a rating of one to six stars based on your application. If you can get a five or six-star rating, there’s work which pays quite decently. It’s very competitive, though. Requests are often scooped up within seconds of being posted.
Since then I’ve gotten assignments to write for WhoIsHostingThis.com, Digital.com, and HTML.com. This is real technical work, and I’m getting pretty good money for it. My name even appears on articles. WhoIsHostingThis.com has posted a detailed profile on me for some reason.
Aside from letting me work on my own schedule, writing lets me keep up with current technology better than when I was getting paid to write code. It’s easy, when you’re a developer, to get stuck in one corner of the latest technology and not notice what else is happening. I like learning, and I like passing knowledge along. Some of the material I’m assigned is promotional, but I manage to fit something educational into just about everything I write. (Anyone who asks me to plagiarize or deceive can kindly go to Hell.)
Connecting with other writers is an important part of the job, and I owe a lot of my inspiration to other writers I know. When you’re in science fiction fandom, it sometimes seems that everyone you know is a published author. In the #1 spot for inspiration is Debbie Ridpath Ohi, whom I’ve known for many years. She writes children’s books, a completely different area from my work, but she’s always providing encouragement and humor for aspiring writers. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good at that as she is, but maybe I can exchange some useful thoughts with other writers here.
In upcoming pieces, I’m thinking of writing about research methods and techniques for being more productive and writing more effectively. Watch this space; I’m aiming for a post a week.