Not Your Average Freelance Gig

8 March 2011 By Rubi McGrory

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Have you noticed how many words and pictures float around the Internet orall of the text and photos that line the pages as you flip through a magazine? Ifthe thought, “Hey, I can write or take pictures. How can I get a piece of thataction?” has crossed your mind, perhaps you should try freelancing – and wedon’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 runto the bank, you may need some polishing up and a little pep talk. Here aresome 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 themost and follow links to take you all over the Internet. Read what otherwriters post and see what photographers are doing. Writersmarket.comis 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 backpacklunches. 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 thepoint you think it is perfect. Then, go back and edit again, without mercy. Twoamazing essays are more valuable than five mediocre pieces in the same way thatone dozen cropped and polished photos say more than 100 snapshots.

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

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

Food and travel writing are very competitive fields. You can gain greatexposure 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. Onceyour work is polished and professional, query editors and site producers. Spellcheck everything you write. Don’t wait for anyone to come blowing up your inboxdemanding more of your charm, wit and artistic vision. You not only will needto chase down editors, but you also should pitch stories orthemes. Editors are always looking for new ideas and will be more open tohiring you if you make their job easier.

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

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