Ask Wendy: How Do Writing Careers Evolve?

wendywotr.gif Q: What’s different about your career today vs. seven years ago?

EVERYTHING!

1.    I have more steady work from regular clients. This means I rarely write query letters or mail manuscripts. Once in awhile I’ll send a magazine pitch for PR that I’m doing for one of my clients, or I’ll run across a very part-time gig that just looks perfect for me. But for the most part, I’ve got enough work to keep me busy. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to get one (or more!) regular clients so you can count on the income. When you know you’ve got at least one steady check coming in, it actually frees up more time and energy for you to do “fun” writing because you’re not as worried about paying the bills. The best clients to shoot for?

  • A weekly or monthly column that you enjoy writing (so it’s easy and fun)
  • A magazine (most likely local, regional or online) that will send regular, steady assignments
  • Copy writing or editing (for a magazine, newspaper, website or ad agency)
  • Newsletter writing for a (paying) client

2.    I’m much better about charging what I’m worth. When I first started, I took almost every gig that came along–some that probably had me earning less than minimum wage–because I wanted the published clips and REALLY didn’t want to go back to a 9-to-5 job. I gradually became choosier and would drop my lowest-paying gig when a better one came along.

3.    I expect to spend money to make money. I don’t cut corners when it comes to things like my computer, my high-speed Internet access or my fax line because I know it’s worth it in the long run to have reliable tools and technologies. Plus, you can write them off your taxes.

4.    I only do work I enjoy. Once in a while I have to do some boring editing or work with an advertiser who has me rewrite her 20words of text 17 times, but for the most part, I love what I do, which makes it easy to get up every morning. Seven years ago, I would have called in sick.

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Wendy Burt is a successful full-time freelance writer and editor who has more than doubled her income since leaving her job as a newspaper editor just four years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s work has appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, The Writer, MSNBC.com, NewYorkTimes.com, Home Cooking Magazine and American Fitness. Wendy teaches “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” and still finds ample time to spend with her beautiful children, Gracie and Ben. Visit www.BurtCreations.com to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad.

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1 Response to “Ask Wendy: How Do Writing Careers Evolve?”


  1. 1 rgoodchild July 12, 2008 at 12:04 am

    I so agree with these comments
    One thing I would add though, is when I first began, I said yes to everything. It built up a huge volume of work, and gave me a great base. I was then known as the person who could deliver.
    Some of those low paying gigs turned out to be really rewarding. I have since taken a regualr job (at my rates) for a mag I was paid very poorly on for severla years- I am the only one paid my rates now.
    Sometimes it pays to be a bit of a yes girl when you begin.


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