One writer expounds on the joys and challenges of parenting their special needs children, another blogs on the health benefits of fermented foods and still another drones on about the benefits of freelance writing. Week after week or month after month another installment is added covering a different aspect of the topic. One day they notice their word processors are chock full of files, dozens and dozens of them, about their chosen topic. Each file is about a thousand words and the total word count is over fifty thousand. Kawabunga – they wrote a book!
The above illustration deals with non-fiction works, but the same thing can happen with fiction as well. Most authors stick close to home, be it science fiction, horror, romance or mystery. If they write short stories dealing with similar subject matter, over the course of time an anthology of their work takes shape. Perhaps a specific character is fleshed out in more detail, complete with their back story, or the history of an alien planet is made manifest.
Building Name Recognition
With the exception of celebrities, all writers start as unknowns to the general public. A freelancer who regularly publishes in magazines about a specific topic is building their name recognition and expertise, also known as their Platform.
Even small circulation magazines (or blogs) can reach thousands of readers. Contrast that with the number of books many independent authors sell (hundreds or less). By regularly writing on a particular topic, the freelancer’s name is becoming known to a larger audience. By the time they have sufficient material to yield a book they also have many potential initial buyers.
Book authors are invited to give talks once their book sells, but how do you sell a book if no one knows you exist? It does happen, sometimes spectacularly so, but such occurrences are rarer than triple rainbows. However, community groups are always looking for speakers to fill ten or twenty minutes of their meeting with a topic their membership would find useful or entertaining. A freelancer has the chance to present information on their specialty and hand out a short bio. This can also be an opportunity to advertise your blog or soon-to-be-released book. This also provides impetus for you to sit and add to your blog or write that book.
Increasing Your Skill Set
Many professions have continuing education requirements to maintain licensure. Teachers, Nurses, Engineers, CPR Instructors all must undergo re-certification to keep their jobs. Currently there is no such requirement for a writer, but a freelancer who blogs on one of these topics would need to acquire credits to keep their license.
Writing on a specific topic requires the freelancer to be constantly thinking about different aspects of that topic. Parenting in 2015 has different challenges than it did in 1955. While some wisdom remains evergreen, other ideas have vanished. Technology has impacted virtually every aspect of our society, changing the way people work and play. In other instances long-forgotten methods are rediscovered and embraced. The freelancer who presents themselves as a subject expert must keep abreast of current trends. Not only is knowledge increasing exponentially but the rate of change is increasing as well. The internet also provides a means for many people to become subject experts. These people potentially can read what the freelancer writes and woe to the freelancer if they are wrong or their material is outdated. Many months or years of effort to develop a reputation as an expert can be destroyed in the flash of a webpage.
Working the Magic
The magic of monthly or weekly Freelance Writing is that it imposes a structure and schedule on an activity that can be so free as to disappear. Self-imposed timelines force the writer to write. Even moderate success with developing a following can propel the writer to work the keyboard when they would otherwise play Candy Crush. The fans cannot be kept waiting.
If after a year or more, sufficient material has been accumulated to yield a book there will still be editing and more writing to turn it into a finished product. But much of the work will have been accomplished, one article at a time.
Freelance writing on a particular topic, either as a blog or in magazines, provides a chance to earn money and build a solid reputation. PLANNING – PERSISTENCE – PRODUCTION are the magic words.