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Not Your Average Freelance Gig

Mar 8th 11
By Rubi McGrory

Have you noticed how many words and pictures float around the Internet or all of the text and photos that line the pages as you flip through a magazine? If the thought, “Hey, I can write or take pictures. How can I get a piece of that action?” has crossed your mind, perhaps you should try freelancing – and we don’t mean as crew.

The term “content” refers to online information, including pictures, blogs and articles, much of which is produced professionally by freelancers. Freelancing is a tight business, but not impermeable. With a little hard work, you can turn your journal ruminations and photographs into cash. Before you run to the bank, you may need some polishing up and a little pep talk. Here are some tips to get you started.

1: Do your research. Target your chosen market and be creative. There are many sites to post your work. Start with the ones you read the most and follow links to take you all over the Internet. Read what other writers post and see what photographers are doing. is an excellent resource that connects you with available jobs and positions and offers insight on approaching editors.

A cooking website is obvious for a chef, but, better yet, focus deeper and propose a regular column to an outdoorsy site with recipes for gourmet backpack lunches. A travel magazine could be a perfect fit for your hundreds of photos, but sell your photos to a stock photo company and you will bring in royalties each time it's sold for use.

2: Spit and polish. Be your own worst critic. Edit your work to the point you think it is perfect. Then, go back and edit again, without mercy. Two amazing essays are more valuable than five mediocre pieces in the same way that one dozen cropped and polished photos say more than 100 snapshots.

3: Give it away. Instead of keeping your portfolio private, publish your own blog. Blogs are free and easy self-promotion. Some of the most successful blogs have a very specific focus, so narrow yours and keep a regular posting schedule. No reliable Internet? Don’t sweat it, many platforms allow you to post in advance or via SMS.

Once your blog is live, with plenty of content, use it to promote yourself to potential clients. Remember to keep it professional and copyright all of your work. Your photo-editing software will allow you to place a logo or watermark with your name and web address in your photo. For a small fee, you can purchase your own domain name, a far more professional option than

Food and travel writing are very competitive fields. You can gain great exposure by writing for a blog or site even if it doesn’t pay. Cross-promotion opens you to an even larger potential viewership.

4: Go after what you want. Once your work is polished and professional, query editors and site producers. Spell check everything you write. Don’t wait for anyone to come blowing up your inbox demanding more of your charm, wit and artistic vision. You not only will need to chase down editors, but you also should pitch stories or themes. Editors are always looking for new ideas and will be more open to hiring you if you make their job easier.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a new hobby or setting yourself up for a career after boats, freelancing is the perfect side job for crew as it can be done in the comfort of your own bunk after the guests have gone to sleep for the evening. And even if you don’t have a professionally trained eye for photography or a degree in English, these days, anyone can make some money as a photographer or writer.

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