I was lucky enough to speak to Wendy for a chat on her experiences of being a freelance writer. As a successful lifestyle writer and photographer, her work has been featured in print and online for Glamour Magazine, Yahoo! Huffington Post, USA Today and eHow, to name a few. She was also the style editor for AOL Shopping. Cool, huh? I thought so too. She also takes some pretty neat pictures and likes to photograph her cats just like me. Good to know I’m not the only one!
How long have you been freelancing?
I began freelancing when I was in college to help pay the bills, in roughly 2006. I took on several internships throughout my four years at college, and each of those internships turned into freelancing opportunities once I completed them. It was great because I was getting real-life experience in my field, while I was still studying. I continue to freelance for one of those outlets today, nearly 10 years later.
After college I moved to Korea and taught ESL. I felt like my writing career was on hold at first, since I was living abroad and not really working in my field, so I really sought out freelance writing opportunities online. When I moved back to the USA in 2009, I began freelancing full time.
How easy was it for you to find writing opportunities online when you were abroad?
I think 2008 saw a sort of boom where online service journalism was concerned. It was fairly easy to find opportunities to write online, be it for start up blogs, established businesses or websites. I can tell you that the pay wasn’t great, and it rarely is when you first get started in the writing field, but my passion and long-term goals drove me.
Would you say that the ‘boom’ has dwindled now?
I think the boom has definitely lessened, a large part because of Google’s changes. However, the field is really just changing. Outlets are searching for higher quality content and paying more for it.
What kind of methods were you using to find work on online?
I was, and am, a member of various forums and I signed up for newsletters. I would also seek out outlets that were appealing to me, or that aligned with my current resume, and would cold pitch myself to them.
I’ve noticed that a lot of freelance platforms have popped up that specifically act as a platform for freelancers to find work. I.e. Elance, Upwork. They seem to be getting very busy and it feels like they’re driving the cost of work down. What are your thoughts on them?
I don’t have much experience with either of those (Elance or Upwork). I did write for Demand Studios, and still do, but only when their editors contact me directly and not using the platform. Demand Media Studios was one of the first online content sites I wrote for. They paid very little but I went for it to get the experience. They’ve since done a MAJOR overhaul of the way they work.
If you were first starting out as a freelancer now in 2015, where would you look?
I would start by finding networks of freelancers. We are a talkative bunch and don’t mind lending expertise. There’s a LOT to talk about, too, from taxes to getting paid to pitching to kill fees to SEO and beyond. We’re also pretty connected, so you may have better luck getting an editor’s direct email, or being pointed in the right direction with a story you’ve got brewing.
You’re also set up on the right social media websites. Do you think this helps with work?
I think social media does help to an extent! LinkedIn is probably the most important one to be set up with.
Do you write specifically when a client asks or do you just write for the pleasure of writing? I.e. and then pitch?
I wish I had more time just to write “for myself,” but I’ve found that, over time, the work I choose to do is the work that fulfils me. There’s always going to be assignments you dislike, but the longer you go and the more established you become, the more control you have over writing what YOU want to write about.
Many thanks to Wendy for her time and insight.
All Wendy’s info can be found at www.wendygould.com.