So, what is Q&A Friday? Often I get emailed questions about writing, teaching, editing, book recommendations, and general questions about the literary life, and I was thinking that other people might be interested in these questions, too! Q&A Friday is where I will answer one of these questions every other week or so. I hope you find it to be helpful and inspiring!
If you have a question, please feel free to email it to me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com with "Q&A Friday" in the subject line. Also, if you have thoughts to add to my answers, I would LOVE if you would share your ideas in the comments section below! My aim for this blog is for it to be a positive resource and community-builder for readers, writers, teachers, and book-lovers of all ages!
Question: I'm just starting out as a freelance writer and want to expand my areas of expertise, and also build my platform... but I have no clue where or how to start! It's overwhelming. Do you have any suggestions?
My Answer: Yes, I have been there and I know it can feel totally overwhelming! My biggest advice is to try to pick one small thing to do a day relating to building your platform... maybe that means doing some online research of markets you can send your work to; or reading and taking notes on a writing newsletter; or writing an article or blog post; or even starting a page on Twitter or Facebook for your writing career.
Here are some places to start that have been helpful resources for me:
- One newsletter that I subscribe to that I love is Funds For Writers. It's free, comes out frequently, and lists a variety of publication opportunities and contests for that time frame. I like that it's manageable; if I happen to be really busy and "miss" looking at an issue, I can just move along the next one and boom! I'm up to date again.
- Chicken Soup for the Soul is always looking for stories for their upcoming titles, with a variety of themes and topics. They list their upcoming topics and guidelines on their website. Note: there is definitely a specific Chicken Soup for the Soul "type" of story they are looking for... basically, it should be first-person, a true story, and about an event or a person that shaped your life in some way, made you think, made you better, gave you a new appreciation, etc. I would definitely recommend reading a few of the books before you submit. They pay $200 and 10 copies of the book.
- Another strategy that has worked for me to build my platform is to reach out to bloggers I admire and offer to write a guest post for them for free. It's a great way to build connections and expand your exposure.
- ThoughtCatalog accepts essays on all sorts of topics, and could be a great way to expand your exposure, especially if you publish multiple pieces with them. I've had one essay published on ThoughtCatalog and I was pleased with the exposure, even though they don't pay.
- Here are some compiled lists of blogs that accept guest posts, organized into topics:
The most important thing I have found when it comes to freelance writing -- and writing in general-- is to keep your spirits up, stay motivated, and believe in yourself. Perseverance is the name of the game. Remember that every "no" is one step closer to a "yes." Little by little, big things happen!