Achieve Your Writing Dream in the 2nd Half of Life
You had a dream of being a journalist. The Lois Lane or Clark Kent of your generation. Breaking important news and crafting influential pieces that thousands would read. Alas, life took a slightly different route. You don’t nearly do as much writing as you would like…or you do, but it’s not the right kind of writing. The dream deferred still eats at you. It festers and stinks. Now might be the time to reevaluate if that dream can become a reality.
You’re in the 2nd half of your life, but it’s not too late.
The editorial landscape has transformed over the last thirty years. While freelancers can still seek out opportunities by approaching nationally acclaimed magazines and newspapers, the internet has created hundreds of new opportunities for freelance writers. Businesses need copy for their websites and content for their blogs. And hundreds of news and information-driven websites seek talented writers to create high-quality articles.
If you have just a little writing skill and a lot of determination, you can make a freelance writing career flourish.
Should you just quit your job and dive into a freelance career?
No. Quitting your day job is a very unsafe method. So close to retirement, you might not be able to afford to take the monetary hit if the new freelance career doesn’t shoot off as seamlessly as you hope. This is especially true if your current job has good benefits like paid sick days or health insurance.
At this point, think of freelance writing as a means to supplement your income that has the potential to become a part-time or full-time job.
Steps to Success.
Step One: Take stock of your online personal brand. Your online personal brand is comprised of every mention of yourself on the internet. Moments of personal branding range from personal social media sites to online writing portfolios to professional mentions in articles. It’s anything you can leverage to convince editors and businesses, you have the writing skills and experience to craft high-quality articles.
Step Two: If you don’t have a personal brand, spend some time creating a LinkedIn profile and then begin outreaching to blog owners to pitch potential articles. Choose a social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) to begin connecting with other blog owners and professionals.
Step Three: If you don’t have any content published under your own name, begin to get published. You can start by publishing your own content on LinkedIn Publisher. Due to the fact it’s a self-submit process, the article won’t quite be as influential as it would be if the post was published on a slightly higher authority blog with hundreds of readers.
Next, you might want to think about getting a least two or three publications on sites with an editorial team. You can easily find hundreds of sites that accept guest submissions by typing “write for us” in Google’s search engine. Make sure when you pitch a site, it has either twitter interaction, readers, or blog comments. There are a lot of guest post mills out there that have no readers.
Some sites may offer to pay, but a lot of smaller online publications cannot afford to pay guest contributors. The idea at this stage isn’t to make money, it’s simply to get a collection of writing samples you can leverage.
Step Four: Start pitching articles to sites that pay. Many freelance writing sites have lists of blogs and news sites that pay writers when they publish their content. To start, take a look at 37 Blogs That Pay Up To $300 For Your Guest Posts or These 79 Sites Offer $50 and Up. Choose two or three potential sites to pitch. Here are some tips to pitch editorial content.
Step Five: Sign up for a freelance writing platform. Check out Entrepreneur’s list of 11 Freelance websites that will help you find jobs. Freelance writing platforms will connect you with companies, websites, and professionals that need web content, blog, creative, technical, and copy writing projects completed.
Step Six: Do research on your tax obligations. If you live in the United States, you can find your freelance tax expectations here. Depending on how fast your freelance career kicks off, you might need to pay your taxes four times throughout the year. If you won’t make more than $5000 in freelance income this (or owe less than $1,000 in taxes on that income), you can wait until April to pay your freelance taxes.
Be sure to keep a running tally of all payments made to you by editors and companies. Depending on how much a contractor paid you, they might not be required to send you a 1099-MISC (the freelance equivalent of a W-2).
Step Seven: Look into Potential Tax Deductions. Freelance writing, even part-time freelance writing, is a personal business. This allows freelancers to be able to claim the expenses attached to the freelance writing process as tax deductions. What can you deduct?
- The rent or mortgage attached to the portion of the home that is reserved for your home office (you cannot use the room for any other reason besides work).
- If you have a home office, you can deduct a portion of your phone, heating, air conditioning, gas, electricity, internet, or phone bill.
- Classes and seminars related to professional development. (Classes do not qualify if they give you the credentials to enter another field.)
- Costs related to creating and maintaining a website.
- Necessary software like Microsoft Office.
Did you dream of becoming a writer? Why not give freelance writing a try? Even if freelance writing only remains supplemental income, it will be supplemental income that you can continue to utilize after you retire from your “real” job. And best case scenario, it may allow you to pursue your passion full-time.
You’re in the 2nd half of your life, now’s the time to stop deferring your dream and give professional writing a chance.
Samantha Stauf is a part-time blogger, full-time marketing professional, and a newbie freelance writer. Over the last year, she’s realized you can cultivate a successful writing career. And from there, it’s just small hop, skip, and a jump to a landing fruitful freelance writing opportunities.
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