I was in the 5th grade when I announced to my parents, teachers, and friends that I was going to be a writer.
At the time I had dreams of being a novelist or poet but those dreams changed once I was learned about the world of journalism.
I knew I wanted to be a journalist by the time I was 15 years old. Yes, I loved to write, but I also loved meeting new people, getting them to talk about themselves, and sharing their story with others. I loved giving people information. I loved helping people discover new people, places, and things.
In college, I studied journalism and English, with a concentration in creative writing, and did internships at a number of newspapers and magazines. I got a master’s degree in journalism, too, because I wanted to teach j-school one day.
I got a job right out of grad school and it was great. Until it wasn’t. So in 2009 I quit my newspaper job and started teaching English at my former high school.
I was very depressed during my first few years of teaching and not simply because teaching is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. I was depressed because I no longer felt like a writer — something I’d wanted to be since I was 10 years old.
So, I started freelancing. Or I should say I started freelancing again. I had done some freelance writing in college, in grad school, and while working my full-time job at the paper. And once I got back in the game I started feeling like myself again.
I believe freelance writing is a great way to get your writing groove back or get in a writing groove in the first place.
Freelance writing can boost your confidence (and keep you humble).
Seeing your byline in a newspaper, magazine, or online publication can help you kick imposter syndrome to the curb. You can look at that piece you produced and boldly declare, “I AM A WRITER.”
Freelancing also means you’ll be working with an editor who will remind you that there’s always room for improvement.
Freelance writing can boost your writing skills.
Revisions and recommendations from your editors will help you improve your writing, but the act of simply finishing an article will help, too.
In fact, writer and blogging superstar Jeff Goins says that the best way to start a writing career is to write for magazines. Goins writes:
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a future novelist, nonfiction author, or journalist. Writing short-form pieces prepares you for long-form. This is a great alternative to endlessly working on multiple drafts of your book and letting it sit in a drawer for years.”
Writing features for magazines, websites, and other publications teaches you how to meet deadlines, too.
Freelance writing can boost your bank account.
When I first started freelance writing again I didn’t care how much a publication was paying or even if they were paying at all. I just wanted to see my byline again.
But as those checks started to make their way to my mailbox I realized that freelance journalism could do much more than give me pieces for my portfolio. I used that extra income to travel, to go to Beyonce concerts, and to treat myself to occasional shopping sprees. I also used the money to make large donations to my favorite charity and to help out family members who were having trouble making ends meet. And yes, I was responsible and put some of the money in savings, too.
And on May 24 I left my teaching job so that I can work on my writing and work on building See Jane Write full time. Now, freelance writing isn’t just helping me pay for a vacation, it’s helping me fund a life I never want to take a vacation from.
If you’re interested in venturing into the world of freelance journalism — whether full-time, part-time, or just for your Beyonce concert fund — join me Sunday, September 15 at 6 p.m. CT for my free webinar So You Think You Can Freelance. I’ll be sharing my top 10 freelance writing tips that you can use even if you have no journalism experience or education. Sign up here.