Business At A Glance
Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No
If you’ve always wanted to pen articles for magazines or newspapers,then this is the business for you. As a freelance writer, you canspecialize in a particular industry or area of interest, or you canplay the field, writing about anything that catches your fancy. Thereare thousands of magazines devoted to more specialties than you canimagine.
You can also write for corporate publications aimed atemployees or customers and for the bounty of e-zines (electronicmagazines) that proliferate on the Internet. A terrific way to start isby writing about subjects in which you’re already an expert. Theadvantages to this business are that you get to exercise your creativetalents on a continuous basis, you can immerse yourself in whateversubjects interest you, dictate your own hours, and the job titlecarries a certain amount of glamour, especially if you’re writinginvestigative material.
As an added bonus, one of your articles may bepicked up by syndicated services that will pay you a fee for everynewspaper that carries your story. First and foremost, you’ll need thecreativity to pen interesting materials, but you’ll also need thetechnical skills to put your ideas and information into the properformat, including top-notch spelling, punctuation and grammar talents.You’ll also need an eye for the kinds of stories readers (and thereforeeditors) of your target publications will be interested in. You shouldalso have a flair for marketing your products, presenting themprofessionally but with enough pizzazz to make them sparkle among thescads of other hopefuls that weary, overworked editors receive on aregular basis.
Your customers will be the editors of your target publications. The wayto garner business is to send query letters that describe your storyidea and explain your qualifications for writing the piece. If you’vegot writing credentials from your present or previous job, be sure toinclude them. If not, you might explain why you have an expertise inthe area you’re writing about.
The query letter is the first test ofyour writing abilities, the one that will attract the editor’sattention, so make sure it shines. Once you establish relationshipswith editors, you can often call them with story ideas, and they’llsometimes call you with requests. But until then, you’ll need to sendwell-developed and enticing queries to a variety of publications–andkeep sending them.
You’ll need a computer, a laser printer, a fax machine, and the usualoffice software. In addition, you’ll want plenty of reference books,including a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus and style guides.