How to Transition From Blogger to Freelance Writer

Many people want to know how to transition from blogger to freelance writer, because of the allure of seeing your name and articles in print magazines. It is exciting! :-)

A friend asked how I went from blogger to freelance writer; she assumed I started my blogs because I couldn’t find writing jobs. The reverse is actually true.

I started working as a freelance writer but discovered that blogging is more lucrative, interesting, and less stressful. I don’t like pitching article ideas to magazine editors, I don’t like interviewing sources, and I don’t like the impermanence of writing for print magazines. Those words get recycled (literally) and lost forever, but my blogs will live on forever. Or until I stop paying my web hosting fees.

But I have to admit that I LOVED my Reader’s Digest editor! Cynthia would call me up and dissect my articles line by line. It was painful, but o so good for my writing skills. I wish she didn’t live in Toronto; I’d take her out for a romp in the woods with my dogs if she lived here in Vancouver.

Transitioning From Blogger to Freelance Writer

Read as much as you can about running a business

For awhile, I hired writers for my Quips and Tips blogs. I was sadly disappointed by how sloppy many writers are! It wasn’t just their writing skills – they were too informal and unprofessional. They didn’t act like they were applying for a job. Nor did they seem like professional freelance writers. Having taught high school journalism for three years, I know how important it is for freelance writers to get a solid foundation of news reporting under their feet. Textbooks like Elements of News Writing – 3rd Edition will give you the edge over the competition. For, as we know, freelance writing is extremely competitive!

If you want to be a freelance writer, you need to learn more than writing skills. You have to learn how to think like an entrepreneur, how to brand and promote yourself as a business. Writing professionally isn’t just about being creative and engrossing.

Brush up your past blog posts

Are you using your blog as a testament to yourself as a writer? Make sure your blog posts are 100% grammatically correct.

Having said that, however, I also believe editors are less concerned with your past writing. I’ve scored dozens of writing jobs just on the basis of my pitch letter – and I think you can transition from blogger to freelance writer without sending out your blog links.

If you’re a garden blogger, read How Garden Blogs Grow Big and Tall.

Learn how to write to the editor as if she was a real person

Here’s what I sent to the editor of a health magazine that I write for whenever they assign me an article. This is the first query letter I’ve sent in about three years.

Hello Ellen,

I recently started playing the flute, and am really enjoying it! However, I wonder if maybe I should’ve taken up the violin instead, because I get nervous when playing in front of people. My nervousness affects my heart rate and breathing, which in turn affects how my flute sounds. The violin (or guitar, drums, didgeridoo, etc) may be easier because it’s not a wind instrument and isn’t affected by my nerves.

We know that music and learning new instruments are good for our brain and overall health…but how do we decide which instrument to learn? I chose the flute because I played it 20 years ago in high school, and I thought it’d be easy to re-learn. In hindsight, I’d go with the violin instead because it’s my favourite instrument to listen to. I’d be more motivated to practice. I like the way a flute sounds, but LOVE listening to the violin.

I wish I’d read an article about choosing an instrument before I bought my flute!

In 1,500 words, this article would:

  • Briefly review the health benefits of music and learning something new — and include a few “testimonials” from people who have learned a new instrument in adulthood, and how it has affected their health and well-being
  • Describe a variety of instruments, both common and uncommon
  • Discuss things should adults consider when choosing an instrument (eg, cost of instrument and music, level of difficulty, ability to transport the instrument, personality of musicians, availability of space in community bands, etc
  • Offer tips for adults learning a new instrument

It would be a fun, light-hearted article that shows readers how interesting and fun it can be to stay healthy and happy! It might be a good January article, to kick off the new year in a new way.

Let me know if this is of interest; I’d be happy to write it.

Sincerely,

Laurie

See how casual and informal it is? Yet it’s professional. It gets right to the point, and is clear about word count, content, and even timing.

Learning how to transition from blogger to freelance writer will be weird at first – it’s like learning a whole new career! But it’s a lot of fun to see your name in a print magazine, I must admit :-)

Resources for Freelance Writers

2014 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition by Robert Lee Brewer – it lists magazines, periodicals, journals, e-zines, and websites that accept freelance submissions and pay writers for their articles.

Freelance Writing Bootcamp: Learn How You Can Make Money From Home Freelance Writing Online by Caleb Krieger.

The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success is an excellent book about the business of freelance writing.

What do you think – do you want to blossom from blogger to magazine writer? If you’re rather focus on blogging, read  What is a Good Blog? 10 Tips From Professional Bloggers.

transition to writer