By Kyle Geoffrey Uy
“Freelance writing is something anyone can do,” said freelance writer Ian Chandler in his webinar. As someone just starting out, those words gave me hope. I didn’t know anything about where to begin, so I watched this free webinar to learn more.
The knowledge Ian gave us viewers paved the way to landing my first paid gig.
I had no portfolio, and I had never been paid for writing. If you’re someone in the same situation, you can definitely score a first paid gig too. This is how I got mine.
The webinar included a PDF called “The 2020 Paid Publishing Guidebook.” (Editor’s note: You can grab a free copy here.) This e-book is a directory of online publications that pay for articles. Ian’s advice for beginners was to look for online publications, pitch them an article idea, and see if they want to work with you. I searched the e-book for websites that covered my interests.
I spotted geeknative.com–a website for table-top game resources and news. I am an avid table-top gamer myself and I had an idea for an article. I found the email address for the editors and sent them a pitch.
Good day Geek Native,
I have an article idea I know readers of your blog will love, and I’d be honored if you’d consider it for publication on your website.
My 750-word article “The Fundamentals of Being A Dungeon Master” will discuss tips for beginning DMs who may feel overwhelmed when running a quest for the first time. I will detail the core fundamentals of a quest that the DM should focus on to keep the game fun and flowing for all players without having to worry about everything the in the Player’s Handbook or Dungeon Master’s Guide.
A little about me: My name is Kyle Uy. I’m from a small town outside of San Francisco. I’m a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons and 90% of my experience with the game over the last five years has been as the Dungeon Master. I thoroughly enjoy the storytelling and imaginative process that is Dungeons and Dragons. I hope to share knowledge and help anyone I can with the understanding of the game so they can share in that passion too.
I can have this article ready by June 5th, 2020. Does that sound good to you?
Thank you again for your consideration.
One of the editors for geeknative.com emailed me the next day. He said he would commission my article at $0.08 a word at a maximum of 1000 words for a total of $80 (a little less after some fees). Included in their offer were some questions about advertising, an agreement that payment would be through Paypal, and an extension on the deadline to June 10th.
With those terms settled, I started writing the article. This was my first writing assignment since my thesis in college three years ago. I could feel the rust as I scrapped together my first draft. I keep a blog, but again, I’ve never been paid to write. I wondered if the editors would read my submission, deem it unworthy of publication, and then cancel our agreement.
Still, I was fueled with excitement for writing about Dungeons and Dragons. I was a happy geek, typing away at his computer about something I really enjoyed. On June 10th, I submitted my 1000-word article and I received my payment. The article was published on the website a few days later.
The Numbers Game
Now, I warn you that this “success” was borne out of many misfires along the way. My pitch to geeknative.com was one of about ten pitches that I sent out to different publications. Some of these publications were from the e-book, some were found through my own internet searches. These other pitches were responded to with silence, the request for a whole article before the agreement to publish, the editor respectfully saying “no”, or the offer of writing for exposure only. All were fair responses; I was just looking for something different.
Business philosopher Jim Rohn once said, “Success is a numbers game”. I believe that success with freelance writing is a game of numbers and skill. Your ability to write a promising pitch for a publication is crucial. With my limited experience, my advice is: just keep trying and keep improving—keep believing that every “no” is leading you closer to “yes”.
Make it Fun
Writing my article was the easiest part of the whole process. Looking for publications, pitching articles, waiting for responses, and networking with people are all parts of this new venture that are uncomfortable for me personally. If you can relate, I would say to try to make this process of freelance writing fun for yourself–especially the writing part. You do this by writing what you want to write about. You also do this by being respectful and transparent with the people you are communicating with along the way.
I found that there are countless writing opportunities and a vast array of topics that need writers like us. If you’re interested in something, chances are you can get paid to write about it. This silly article about Dungeons and Dragons is my excuse to call myself a freelance writer–but I plan on carrying that as far as I can.
If you’re stuck on where to begin, try to watch the free webinar with Ian Chandler. It’s the “Preview the No B.S. Course on Freelance Writing”. The resources and knowledge provided there will be a great jumpstart to your search for paid writing jobs. If not though, use the internet to find websites looking for articles, send them a pitch–rinse and repeat. I hope my story helped someone for the road ahead. Remember: “Freelance writing is something anyone can do.” I took those words to heart–I think you should too.
This is good to know. I tried my hand at a content mill. The pay isn’t worth the grunt work. I’m willing to receive what this course has to offer.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I can identify with many of the things you mentioned. It’s nice to see how it worked out for someone, and that has given me a little bit more motivation to give it a go myself. Starting out seems daunting, especially when one has no idea where to start. I really appreciate all the information. Thank you!
i read your entire experience,,i ‘m impressed,,yet i have no knowledge how to start my freelance journey.i want to join article writing gener,,please help me out in a easiest way,how can i get in to this particular field,,
Having a real-life example of a successful pitch is worth a thousand how-to explanations. Thank you!