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Freelance Writing Help – When You’re Between Assignments

The old pros may appreciate this freelance writing help, but it’s really for new writers between assignments. The key to a successful writing career is riding the freelancing rollar coaster without upchucking — even when you’re facing a stomach-twisting dearth of assignments. These five tips will help!

But before the tips, a quip:

“As a profession, freelance writing is notoriously insecure,” said Gloria Steinem. “That’s the first argument in its favor. For many reasons, a few of them rational, the thought of knowing exactly what next year’s accomplishments, routine, income, and vacation will be – or even what time I have to get up tomorrow morning – has always depressed me.”

I for one would prefer to know what next year will bring! I wanna know if I’ll make my mortgage payments, meet my blogging goals, and enjoy Maui in January. But instead of wondering and fearing, I’ll just believe and achieve.  If you’ve recently launched your writing career, you’ll find Six-Figure Freelancing helpful (actually, it’s helpful for the old pros, too). And here are some freelance writing tips to get you over the inevitable dry spells…

Freelance Writing Help – When You’re Between Assignments

1. Look for ways to diversify your writing. What new writing opportunities are waiting in the wings? This is your opportunity to take your writing career in a whole new direction! If you’re a niche or trade writer, try looking for online writing markets outside your speciality. If you’ve tapped out the online market, try exploring different types of passive income — such as monetizing your blog or writing ebooks. The more diversified you are as a writer, the less likely those blips between assignments will affect you. Use those quiet freelance moments to “think outside the box” (my apologies for the cliche, fellow scribes).

2. Take casual work — or do volunteer work — that’s not writing-related. Finding temporary work stints in an office, museum, or coffee shop can help you cope with the insecurities of writing. Pulling away from your laptop will help you generate new article ideas, find inspiration, and plan new career moves. Getting paid to be out of the house is a great way to keep your creative juices flowing…and it’ll help you cope with the financial dips that are inevitable for new (and old) freelance writers.

3. Get a print subscription of your local newspaper. Yes, I’m into conserving my-friends-the-trees (even though they partially block my ocean view) — but I’ve recently discovered the joy of reading a print newspaper over breakfast! I’ve sat on the print subscription fence for years, but I recently heard Daniel Wood extol the benefits of clipping newspaper articles (see Writing for Magazines – How to Get Published for New Writers). He, by the way, is a freelance writer who is never not busy. I know because I asked him. Anyway, I love love love reading the Vancouver Sun — even though the writing can be flabby and I’ve turned down assigments from the editors because of their abysmal pay rates. But, reading the local paper — or any new-to-you publication — can be a great way to spark new ideas and get you through the dry spell between assigments.

4. Dust off your old articles and assignments. Don’t let your previously published articles gather dust in your closet or bookshelf. If the copyright is yours, reprint them on your blog. Send them to other magazines or online markets as a reprint request. Don’t be shy about reusing, recycling, or repurposing your published articles, but keep a record of when original magazine’s first rights have expired. Read How to Sell Your Reprint Articles for more tips.

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5. Update and tweak your blog or website — or create one if you haven’t yet! It seems crazy to me now, but when I first started freelancing I struggled with whether or not to create a website (The Adventurous Writer). I’m so glad I did because it validates me as a writer, it’s a great place for my new editors, experts or interviewees to verify my credibility, and it reminds me of my professional growth (which is especially important when I feel the need for freelance writing help). After I created my website, I started my blogs, one right after the other. And as I mentioned earlier, a blog can be a great source of passive income — so it’s worth investing your time, energy, and money in.

Okay, I know these writing tips only skim the surface of what to do when you’re between assignments — but I’ve got a newspaper to read! What are your tips or questions? I await you below…

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5 thoughts on “Freelance Writing Help – When You’re Between Assignments”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Thea,

    Welcome to the world of writing — and I’m glad the tips helped!

    Let me know how it goes with recycling your old assignments 🙂


  2. Hi Laurie

    As a fairly new writer I appreciate these tips. Some I am already doing (particularly the diversify option) but there are a couple I could do more work on. I definitely have some old assignments that I could make use of.

    Thanks for the tips.
    Thea Easterby

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Tammi ~ I used to volunteer at my local library; it’s a great way to stay current in terms of books and authors, help a local nonprofit organization, and find writing inspiration. But last week I moved to a new city, and the libraries here have different rules for volunteers. I need to find somewhere else to volunteer!

    Hi George ~ I hope you find gold in them thar passes! 🙂

  4. I love your suggestion to look into casual or volunteer work. Taking on something part time to tide you over does help refill the writing well and many jobs are far more tolerable when you know they are temporary.

  5. Hey Laurie,

    I do engage in several of these when I’m “between jobs”.

    The other thing I do is re-charge my batteries by doing anything BUT writing. In the summer that means me and my gold pan up in Hatcher’s Pass.