This is the final part of this blog topic. The last half reveals the actual secret – from my perspective.
Experience is one of those elusive qualities. If you have it, the doors of opportunity open invitingly around you. If you lack experience, however, you don’t qualify to ever receive any. So how do you obtain it?
Let’s take someone who’s been freelancing full time for a few months and has only two small clients, neither of which paid much (if anything). Telling that to prospects isn’t likely to inspire confidence.
But what about this: How many years did that individual spent in the corporate world in positions that required writing ability? Perhaps their duties included the editing of a quarterly newsletter, the composing of annual reports or the occasional writing of press releases. That can add up to years of valid experience. Instead of “I’ve been a full-time writer for two months”, it becomes “A writer for two decades.” Without lying about it, play up your own strengths. Give credit to whatever writing experience you possess, full or part time.
Most would-be writers dive into their new careers with gusto. But sooner or later, the lack of response gets to them. Over time, the purpose becomes blunted and only a vague shadow remains.
How do you cope with this? I persisted despite hundreds of rejections, following the advice of best-selling author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard. By “ignoring the losses and making the wins firm,” I found that I stayed positive and focused on the goal. Rather than taking a reject as a bitter blow, I’d either ignore it or find something positive in it. For instance, I’d look for handwritten editor comments as a sign that I was improving.
Through persistence, I emerged from my apprenticeship with a portfolio of newsletters and magazine articles that I could use to dazzle potential clients. Editor’s however, remained non-committal. That became one of the secrets of my success – strictly ignoring the lure of editorial assignments for the time being.
Instead, I found lucrative freelance work in the corporate world. Big companies may only hire seasoned professionals with years of experience in their specific niche. But there are other avenues. Expanding small businesses were usually open to my solicitations, particularly those where I could obtain a personal introduction. Surprisingly, they paid more than most magazines.
That led me to another startling revelation – editors in many trade publications have limited budgets. Whenever I pitched vendor bylined articles (ghostwritten by me), I normally found an attentive audience if I offered them for free. By delivering a piece that both client and editor were happy with, it usually led to more stories in that and other publications.
Ultimately this became my big break: finding clients who would pay me to write articles which I then placed with trade publications. I ran along in this ghostwriting groove for about a year, happy to never receive a cent from any magazine while being paid handsomely by my clients. Over time, my reputation blossomed. During this period, I served my dues, not only as a writer, but in gaining familiarity with the editorial universe.
And a wonderful thing happened – those seemingly black-hearted editors turned into friendly, easy-to-deal-with people. Suddenly, they wanted my work. Within a period of a few months, I progressed from having received no money from magazines directly, to getting a large portion of my income from them.
What changed? Before, I was a fumbling wannabe with bad grammatical habits. I’d misspelled certain words for so many decades that I KNEW they weren’t typos. As a result of my apprenticeship, I became an attractive commodity, someone who could be trusted with an assignment.
And what about the editorial conspiracy? I realized that it does exist. Editors, the world over, are conspiring to achieve a certain level of quality in their publications. Those writers who have yet to master the tools of the trade will continue to receive the cold shoulder. For those who have served their apprenticeship well, however, an open-armed welcome awaits.