Monday, March 31, 2008

Reality Check

Hello again! I’ve been away from this blog for many months now. I’ll offer this excuse for my absence: I’ve been writing web content, and since I began this blog, I now have fifty articles published online.

I started this blog in June 2007, with the hope of becoming a published writer. Initially, I blogged about my early successes, and I set writing goals for myself each month. The blogging really helped kick start my writing career.

I wanted to have 10 articles published by June 2008, and then I could call myself a writer. It seemed like the ball got rolling pretty fast, and after I realized a dream of having my first article published on the travel web site, I discovered Associated Content (AC). I started publishing articles there on a wide variety of topics, like arts and culture, travel, health, opinion/editorial pieces, even some product reviews. Click here to see my full Associated Content Library of articles.

In December 2007, my article titled "Are We Too Diet Obsessed During the Holidays?" was highly rated and was featured on the front page of AC, which was very exciting!

In early 2008, I was contacted by Demand Studios for an assignment, based on an application I filled out in late 2007 at their site. I became a freelance contributor for the Demand Studios web site called eHow. I don’t usually write how-to articles, but it was a fun assignment and I learned a lot, plus Demand Studios and my editor were great to work with and I was very pleased with the paycheck (a great gig!)

2008 rolled around and I realized a few things. I realized that I could call myself a freelance writer. I felt comfortable doing so, after all my hard work the year before. Also, it occurred to me that I had somehow become a web writer, not a magazine writer, as I had planned. How did that happen? I took my first travel writing class and finished an article I intended to send to print publications.

But the process of looking for markets and figuring out which magazine and newspaper editors to query about my article seemed a dizzying, time consuming process. Bootsnall, which I loved and which so inspired me for years, was calling my name and I decided to submit my article to their web site.

After that, I fell in love with writing for web sites. I love that my stories are archived online for years and years, becoming part of a library. At any time, someone could search the web and find one of my articles. Print publications, like newspapers, get tossed away after the current issue. But my online library is constantly there, and I can find new readers. I also love the interactivity of publishing stories online; I enjoy receiving feedback from my readers. Another plus: I can track statistics at sites like AC, to see page views of my published articles.

The downside of being a content provider for websites is the lack of respect I’ve often encountered, both online and offline. When I say I’m a freelance writer, I sometimes get blank stares. I get the question “Oh, you write for local publications?” and when I answer “I write content for websites” I get this look that indicates a total lack of comprehension for what that means.

I think web content writing is kind of a new frontier, and people automatically think of freelance writers as writing articles for print publications, at least that has been my experience. I initially became a writer to write about topics that interested me, for magazines that I loved. I’ve been doing a lot of work as a content producer, but this year I want to break into print.

Another goal of mine is to have 100 articles published on AC by June 2008. Can I do it? I have 39 articles published on AC to date. I think it’s possible, and I’m working hard towards that goal.

Now for a reality check: I don’t make a lot writing for websites. It’s been a constant financial struggle. So I’m very close to taking a job, to supplement my income. I’ll probably do that. I’ll have two incomes, one from this job and the other from my writing.

Some new thoughts and strategies have occurred to me this month. I could work this job, cut back on my web writing and just take some more writing classes, hone my skills and try to break into print. Print will be very low paying, so I’ll have this job to fall back on. I could continue to study copyediting and proofreading and try to build up those businesses, and continue to write articles that are meaningful to me. I’ve talked about studying graphic design, I could also do that. I’m interested in copywriting, so maybe that could support my writing ambitions.

One thing’s for sure. If you want to be a full time freelance writer, it’s more work than you ever imagined. I also feel that freelance writing is one of the lowest paying professions out there. It truly is a struggle, but if you love writing, if it’s in your blood, the rewards are worth it.

I’m probably taking this outside, non-writing job, so I can move to a new area. That will make me happier, and that will fuel my writing. Change is good. I’ve discovered it’s all about staying open to change, going with the flow and staying adaptable to whatever adjustments need to be made.

Keep writing. Above all else, no matter what life throws at you and whatever’s on the horizon, keep writing. If it’s in your heart to write, or you have a creative goal of any kind, never give up on your dreams.

I hope to blog more in 2008. I’ll share my story and my successes and what I’ve learned in hopes of helping others achieve their writing dreams. I hope 2008 is a wonderful and productive year for you and that all your writing (and other) dreams come true!