In April 2015 I decided to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a writer. As a busy mom with a 1-year-old, a 3-year-old, a house to keep clean, community projects to participate in, and a husband to watch Brooklyn 99 with, I don’t have much free time. I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t at least attempt to chase my dream of writing, even if I had to pull back a bit from my personal responsibilities, and carve out specific time to write.
As I set out to pursue my goal of freelance writing, and perhaps even make a little bit of money doing it, I promised myself that I would not become discouraged. Even before I hit send on my very first submission, I was mentally prepared to send 25-50 submissions and never hear a word back. Three days later, I received an email from the Globe & Mail, the largest Canadian newspaper, letting me know that they would like to publish my piece. My first submission I ever sent was accepted.I was mentally prepared to send 25-50 submissions and never hear a word back @briannarbell #justlikejason Click To Tweet
It’s been just under two months of pursuing my goals, and I have submitted 11 pitches/submissions, and have received 6 responses that my work will be published. I am not a perfect writer or a freelance guru. I am just a woman who loves to write and chase her dreams, and hopefully encourage you to do the same. Here are a few tips that I have for those of you who are fearful of getting out there:
1. Submit, Submit, Submit
Just get started. Maybe you will be lucky like me and have your first pitch accepted, and maybe you won’t. You will never know until you try. Beyond Your Blog is a great resource. Use this resource to find websites that accept submissions and get started.
2. Do your research
Don’t submit an article about skydiving to a blog about grooming dogs. If you are going to submit to a website have enough respect for the writers and editors by reading the blog first. I try to read at least five posts or articles so that I can get a feel for the type of articles they accept and the tone they like.
3. Edit your work
I have zero patience. Once I write a blog I’m itching to submit it, but I am trying to have enough self-discipline to stop, wait at least one night, and read and re-read my work. I would also caution you to not over-do it. With my Globe & Mail article I submitted I edited for two weeks, and by the time I clicked send I felt like my piece sucked. I had read it too many times. Now I just take a deep breath and send it once it’s been edited a few times.
4. Don’t be afraid to submit to the same place multiple times
I really, really want to be published on Scary Mommy. That is a short-term goal that I have. Two weeks ago I submitted a piece that I feel really good about, but I haven’t heard back. I believe in myself, I will be published on Scary Mommy. That means I might need to submit a few strong pieces in order to get noticed.
There are a few places I have submitted that I’m sure receive dozens of e-mails a day. My perfectly wonderful and hilarious article can get buried. It’s up to me to make sure that doesn’t happen. I plan on giving it 2-3 weeks, and if I don’t hear a response I will e-mail to make sure they read my piece.
6. Recycle your material
You can do this in two ways. First, submit a really strong piece that you wrote on your personal blog to a blog or website that takes previously published work. Second, if a piece you submitted gets rejected, re-work it and send it somewhere else. Don’t give up on something just because one person decided not to publish it.
7. Don’t sell yourself short
I want to get paid. I need to get paid. If you decide to pursue freelance writing expect to work hours and hours and not get paid. That will happen, especially for the first few months as you grow your portfolio and get your name out there. But, there comes a point when writing for free gets old. I’ve already decided that in September I am going to transition to submitting to mostly paid blogs and websites. Don’t be afraid to submit to those sites that pay. Yes, the competition is fierce, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find success. My third accepted article was from Bon Bon Break, and I will be paid for that article.I am going to transition to submitting to mostly paid blogs and websites @briannarbell #justlikejason Click To Tweet
8. Have a social media presence
I hate social media; it sucks up a lot of my time and can seem consuming. Still, I’m learning the value of things like Twitter, having a Facebook fan page, and a professional website to market myself and grow awareness for my ability as a writer.
9. Set a schedule
If you are going to pursue writing it is best to have a set schedule. This way you can protect your personal time, and also make sure you are writing when you need to. Hire a baby-sitter, send the kids out with Dad/Mom, or skip Netflix night. Do what you need to do, but sit down and write.
10. Don’t say no to an interview
One issue I am finding is that when I pitch ideas to newspapers they ask to interview me. My second pitch to The Globe & Mail was turned into an interview. This way they don’t have to pay me. I still get exposure as a writer though, and so I say yes to newspaper interviews. By the way, that interview I did led to over 1,000 Facebook shares, and a ton of media attention for my family and freelance career. It’s been a great way to boost my exposure and reputation, especially in the personal finance field.
One final parting thought that I want to leave with you all: please don’t wait to pursue the passion of your heart. My brother suddenly passed away on May 21st. We are still reeling from the shock, and I am still grasping at every single memory I can clutch between my fingers and hold on to. He was a dreamer, through and through. He chased his dreams with a passion I cannot describe. He was an advocate of dream-chasing like you wouldn’t believe. He isn’t here to tell you to chase your dreams, but if he was here, he would. If you long to write, if you know that crafting words and stories is what brings you joy, then just do it. My brother would tell you to, and as his little sister, I am telling you to! If you are inspired to chase your dreams let me know on Twitter, and use the hashtag #justlikeJason.