Filtering by Tag: FREELANCING

The Freelancer 3

If you’re a freelance writer, there are three factors to weigh when you’re conceiving or contracting a piece. Typically, whether or not you write a freelance article will depend on three reasons: money, subject, and byline. Ideally, you’ll get two out of those three. If you’re only getting one, you may need to restrategize.


Sometimes you’ll write an article for one reason: cash. I’ve written articles for glossy magazines that paid $2 a word. Oftentimes, the subject matter of those stories was somewhat less interesting to me, or an editor hacked my prose to death prior to publication. For $1 or $2 a word, sometimes we make concessions.



Sometimes, you’ll write an article because you love / are fascinated by / want to explore a certain subject. This is a perfectly reasonable reason to write an article. In fact, if you love the subject enough, you may be willing to write the piece for a pittance. Let’s say, for example, $150 for 750 words. You’ll get a great clip out of it.


One of the ways to get other editors to give you freelance assignments down the line is to list all the outlets that you’ve written for before when you send them your pitch. The better those outlets are, the more impressed the editor you’re pitching may be. So, if you’ve only written for small websites, but you write something for, say, Slate, that’ll give you leverage.

Buy a copy of my acclaimed story, “The Tumor” … “a masterpiece of short fiction.”

Ask Susannah: How Do You Get into Freelance Work?

Q: Love your writing. Curious, but how do you get into freelance work?

Image via  Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

A: There’s no one tried and true way to get into freelancing. More often than not, it’ll happen when you undertake a series of experiments. Think of it as firing a shotgun and seeing what it hits or throwing shit against a wall and seeing what sticks. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s up to you to get moving.

I believe the first published article I wrote was for a local newspaper, and it was a book review. Come up with one idea that you can sell. A review. A photograph. A comic. Identify the publication most likely to publish it. A local rag. A small website. A literary magazine. Figure out the person to pitch it to—the editor-in-chief, the photo editor, the features editor. Find their email address. If you can’t find it easily, and you’re pitching to a publication where people have their own emails, emails usually follow one of these styles:,,, You can see if you’ve got the right one by googling it. Usually, their email is posted somewhere, and that search will confirm you have it right. Then write a pitch. Say: I’d like to write a story about X. Or: I’m interested in covering the upcoming cow auction. Perhaps: Are you looking for an op-ed columnist? Tell them what you’ve done that’s impressive. Include some links to your work or even a sample of your work.

A lot of times, editors never respond. That’s just the way it is. I hate when I pitch editors, and they don’t respond. That said, sometimes as an editor, I don’t respond to pitches. It’s the single most passive aggressive no you’ll ever get. Learn to live with rejection. Or ignore it. It’s just one person.

Of course, you can forget that whole pitching-to-publications thing and sell your stuff yourself. I like Gumroad. You can set your own price, produce your own products, and get paid in a reasonable time period.

At first, you might not make a lot of money with your freelancing. If you keep at it, you’ll get better. You’ll connect with other freelancers. People will start asking you to create things for them. Eventually, it just grows and grows.

Good luck!


Buy my digital short, “The Tumor.” It’s been called “a masterpiece of short fiction.”

Don't Give Away Your Right To Negotiate For Yourself (Updated)

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find a clause like this in a contract for a freelance article.

(*see below for an update)

Image via Magic:  The Gathering

Image via Magic: The Gathering

  1. Read your contract in full before signing it. Don’t skim-read it on autopilot.

  2. Do not agree to terms like these. You are giving away your right to negotiate.

  3. Explain the clause must be removed from this contract in order for you to sign it.

“10. Film/TV/Audiovisual Works: You hereby grant and assign to [redacted] exclusive decision-making, signing authority, and rights with respect to feature film, motion picture, video game, mobile application, television, episodic programming, and any other audiovisual work based on or derived from the Work.

[Redacted] agrees to make good faith efforts to consult with you before signing any such ancillary rights agreements.

Any monies actually received by [Redacted] upon optioning and/or selling the Work (after deduction of [Redacted]’s actual, out-of-pocket costs and expenses, including, without limitation, agency fees and other fees and expenses related to sale and exploitation thereof) will be distributed as follows:

Fixed Compensation.

i) Option Fees/Purchase Price: 50% to [Redacted], 50% to you 
ii) Royalties and/or Series Sales Bonuses (if any): 50% to [Redacted], 50% to you 
iii) Contributor Writing or Consulting Fee (if any): 100% to you 
iv) Executive Producer, Producer, or Similar Fees for [Redacted] or its employees/contractors (if any): 100% to [Redacted].

Contingent Compensation and box office bonuses (if any): 50% to [Redacted], 50% to You

It’s acknowledged that [Redacted] may have a first look or overall deal with a third party, and any guaranteed fees associated with such an agreement are expressly excluded.

Accounting statements with respect to any ancillary exploitation of rights pursuant to this Section and payments, if any, will be delivered to you within 90 days following receipt by [Redacted] of the actual monies and such statements from third party purchasers or licensees of such rights.

It is agreed and understood that the services you are furnishing under this Agreement are extraordinary, unique, and not replaceable, and that there is no fully adequate remedy at law in the event of your breach of this Agreement, and that in the event of such a breach, [Redacted] shall be entitled to equitable relief by way of injunction or otherwise. You also recognize and confirm that in the event of a breach by [Redacted] of its obligations under this Agreement, the damage, if any, caused to you by [Redacted] is not irreparable or sufficient to entitle you to injunctive or other equitable relief. Consequently, your rights and remedies are limited to the right, if any, to obtain damages at law and you will not have any right in such event to terminate or rescind this Agreement or any of the rights granted by you hereunder or to enjoin or restrain the development, production and exploitation of the rights granted pursuant to this Agreement.”

I requested the clause be removed. The editor declined, describing the contract as “writer-friendly.” I declined to sign.

Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

Have Laptop, Will Travel

"Flogging the Freelancer" is a blog post a day about freelancing in the gig economy. Browse the archives here.

I'll be traveling, and blogging, over the next few days, but one thing I try and do as a freelance writer is to do a story every time I travel.

So, when I went to Hawaii, I wrote "Gun Tourism Is All the Rage in Waikiki": "It was like Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California — except for instead of burning incense and selling hemp necklaces, they were hawking the fruits of the Second Amendment."

When I went to Miami, I wrote "How the Biggest Strip Club in America Grinds": "'I like dancing a lot,' she says. 'I’m not shy. I have a lot of spunk.'"

And when I went to Shanghai, I wrote "This Restaurant Is Shit": "I had no trouble eating the desserts that looked like shit at the toilet-themed restaurant."

Freelancing is about starting, and stopping, and restarting. I've found this process of living, and working, and reworking helps me stay in the flow.

You can connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and you can email me here.

How Much I Got Paid: #7

Title: Digital copywriter

Publication: N/A

Date: N/A

Word count: N/A

Payment: $100/hour

Notes: In February of 2011, I was downsized from a full-time job I had as an editor for a popular Time Warner website for women. That day, I wrote a post on my blog titled "Hire Me." Not long after, I heard from a man who worked for a big PR company in New York. He talked to me about doing some social media copywriting. He offered me $100 an hour. I took it. Over the next year and a half, I wrote digital copy for some of the world's biggest brands. My favorite assignment was pretending to be a product that talked to its fans on Facebook. I wrote scripts for commercials, became a celebrity tweet ghostwriter, and billed thousands and thousands of dollars. I was good at it, I liked it, and I could generate the online engagement the billion-dollar companies with which I worked wanted so desperately. I was a kind of Facebook whisperer. As a writer, it was the best-paying job I've ever had. One might suggest that marketing copy is thin and meaningless compared to journalism, but the reality is that every writer is in the entertainment business. The question is: How much do you want to get paid for what you do?

Conclusion: There's no shame in paying the bills.

[How Much I Got Paid]