Mark Terry

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Making Money Writing

report March 14, 2013
As I was invoicing a client today and filling the data into a spreadsheet I keep, I typed in the word "article" in the space for type of work.

When I first started as a freelancer, the types were pretty much "article" and "column" and "JAGT", which refers to the technical journal I edit and have edited since 2000.

I don't write a lot of articles any more. So what has appeared in this space? Let's show you a few.

-Report (typically market research reports, although I haven't done any recently)
-eLABc/tech sheets (this is actually website content, but the tech sheets are website pages of specific diagnostic laboratory tests)
-ms. Edit (edited a novel manuscript for a client)
-editing gig (this was editing for an translation company. The company hires a bunch of translators for foreign companies that want reports, etc., translated into English or other languages. Then they hire editors to make sure it's actually readable. I don't do a ton of this, primarily because this particular company pays only OK, but also tends to have these bizarre and impossible timelines, like, they contact me at noon and have a project that will take 10 hours at least, but they can't get me the materials until 5:00, and they want it done within the next 24 hours. Life's too short for that kind of crap).
-White paper (I still do a fair number of these and would like to do more)
-enews alert (basically short email blasts)
-Q&A (in this case a client paid me to answer questions one of their customers had about a report I had written a couple years before)
-report chapter (in which I wrote 2 chapters for a longer business report)
-press releases
-e-book (not my own, but for a publisher)
-website copy (I'm doing more of this now and it's good if the company has deep pockets; technical companies typically expect to pay well for this and don't complain; startups are assholes with no money most of the time)
-ebrief (same as an enews alert, essentially a short e-newsletter or article, 3 -5 paragraphs or so)
line edits (for an online medical encyclopedia; editor was a jerk)
-website proof (basically tidying up a client's web pages)
-Column (in this case, it refers to a regular gig I have where I search the news about movers & shakers in the specific area, then write a paragraph profile of the person involved)
-PPT edits (I've done this a couple times - and am in the middle of one now - where a client needs a PowerPoint presentation turned into something usable and professional)
-App Note - this is an online technical document for a biotech manufacturing company
-Book Reviews (haven't done any recently, but I did for quite a few years)

Other areas are, of course, books and paid blogs. I've never done paying blogs, although there's a lot of them out there (generally the pay seems to suck, but if you can get one that wants you to blog a lot and only pays $25 or $30 per post and you don't have to spend a ton of time writing them, I can imagine them being worthwhile financially)

There are other things that are out there like ad copy, direct mail (junk mail by any other name), pharmaceutical technical writing, grant writing (done a little bit of it). And generally speaking, if you're going to be a freelance writer, you need to keep an open mind about it.

And, of course, there's probably all sorts of paying writing gigs that will be out soon that aren't quite in existence yet. Who would have guessed 10 years ago that people would be writing text designed for mobile apps?


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