Over the past eights years as a Reinvention Coach and Strategist, I have coached many individuals interested in pursuing freelance writing as a potential career option. For this week’s blog, I have called in the expert-Tim Handorf.  Tim Handorf, who writes on the topics of online colleges, is by trade a “freelance writer”. In this post, Tim shares this thoughts on the keys to success for making this transition.

Tim’s thoughts:

So you want to be a writer. Writing for a living is no easy task, especially in a world in which print publications have dramatically decreased their readership and full-time writing positions are scarce. Those positions that do exist are extremely competitive and are often reserved for industry insiders.

Most newspapers, magazines, and online publications rely on freelance writers to produce content for them. Although the prospect of not having set hours and having to constantly look for new writing gigs may seem a bit daunting, once you get the hang of it, full-time freelancing can be a lucrative and rewarding career. You don’t have to live the 9-5 life in order to be successful. Here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Start freelancing as a side project.

Initially, freelancing can be a pretty unstable life. That’s why it’s best to start writing projects as a hobby so you can get the hang of it, develop contacts, and accumulate writing samples to net more challenging and better paying gigs. The first writing gigs you get will more often than not be unpaid. Sometimes this is the only way to get your foot in the door.

2. Surf the web or look through the latest copy of Writer’s Market (http://www.writersdigestshop.com/category/writers-market-subscriptions) for different publications that interest you.

As Hemingway said, “Write what you know.” It’s better to write for publications that grab your interest, since you’ll presumably have some background on the subject and will therefore be able to write with greater clarity and depth. Learn to write a query letter (http://www.poewar.com/how-to-write-a-query-letter/), which you send to different editors, asking for a shot at their blog or publication, detailing exactly what you wish to write about and how you plan to go about doing it. Writer’s Market is a great up-to-date resource as it has pretty much every print publishing venue out there today.

3. Set goals (http://www.freelancewritingsuccess.com/slaunwhite1.php).

Since freelancing doesn’t have the structure of your traditional job, if you want to eventually make a living doing it, you’ll have to set a routine and goals. This requires discipline and a commitment to your craft.

4. Set aside a work space with an Internet connection.

As a freelancer, you also won’t have a traditional office space. While it’s nice to think that you can work in bed in your pajamas (I’ve tried it), nothing quite puts a damper on productivity as having no discrete office space. If you want to be a successful freelance writer, you’ll have to treat it like a real job, meaning you must set aside the time and quiet space to do it.

These are just a few ways to get you started as a freelance writer. There are millions of opportunities out there, and the writers who don’t make it fail not because they lacked venues to publish their work. Usually it’s because they didn’t discipline themselves, they didn’t know how to face rejection, or their heart simply wasn’t in it. To make it as a freelancer, you’ll have to face early hurdles, and you’ll get turned down quite a bit. At first, it won’t pay the way a steady job does. If you stick with it long enough, however, it can be a dream come true. The freedom, flexibility, and versatility that a career in freelance writing gives you are something that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

This guest post is contributed by Tim Handorf, who writes on the topics of online colleges (http://www.bestcollegesonline.net/top-online-colleges). He welcomes your comments at his email Id: tim.handorf.20@googlemail.com.