Let's meet a Workshop Facilitator. Beginning September 13, Bev Walton-Porter will lead the
workshop "Secrets of the Professional Freelancer--Revealed!" During this month-long course, students will learn the basic ingredients they need to make their move from aspiring writer to confident freelance writing professional and beyond.
In addition to her role as a Coffeehouse Workshop facilitator, Bev Walton-Porter is a full-time,
professional freelancer with over 150 articles published in a variety of print and online
publications. Her credits include Writer's Digest, ByLine, The Write Connection, My Little Magazine, ParentSource, Cyber Oasis, Eye on the Web, CompuNotes, The Write Markets Report and many others. She is also a contributing editor for the freelance writing page at Suite101.com. In her spare time, she publishes Scribe & Quill, a bi-monthly newsletter for writers. We recently caught Bev in between assignments and asked her about her career as a successful freelancer:
Fiction Fix (FF): What made you decide to make the leap into full-time freelance work:
Bev Walton-Porter (BWP): To be honest, I was feeling very stifled and dissatisfied in my "real" workaday job. I worked in city government in customer service but found the environment too often negative and creatively restrictive.
The highlight of everyone's day seemed to be gossiping over coffee, whereas I spent my time writing or reading in the upstairs spare conference room. I knew I had to find an atmosphere that challenged and nurtured my creativity. I didn't want to one day turn 65 and spend the remainder of my days reminiscing about how I "could" have been a writer! I decided I could either stay at my job, be miserable, and only dream about writing full-time, or I could prepare myself to shape my own destiny and work at something I love for a living.
FF: Describe a typical freelance writing day.
BWP: Can't say there is a "typical" freelance day, since each day is pretty much determined by projects or assignments already in the hopper. I'd say I spend a good 8-12 hours of each day online.
Broken up into percentages, here's how my usual day stacks up, although these percentages can shift dramatically at deadline time!
5% spent searching for new writing or editing jobs.
10% spent on email queries or correspondence with other professional writers or editors.
15% spent on sending out assignments and homework responses to students in my freelance writing courses.
30% spent on research in preparation for writing projects.
40% spent on actual writing and revision of articles.
FF: What has most contributed to your success as a freelance writer?
BWP: A combination of things. Above all else, it takes drive and perseverance--I'm passionate about writing and have a natural curiosity and willingness to work on a variety of writing projects.
Secondly, I can't say enough about networking with other professionals in the field. To succeed as a professional freelancer, find someone who's doing what you want to do and model his or her habits and behavior. Learn from them, hone your craft, and be willing to marry your creativity with initiative and technical ability.
Finally, be a smart marketer and a savvy PR person. It's not enough to write well . . . that doesn't do any good if you're not willing to advertise and promote your product--your writing. Writing is a business. Your writing is the product you deliver to editors and publishers. Get name recognition, network as much as possible. Look for writing opportunities you may not have considered before!
FF: What one article are you most proud of having written and why?
BWP: This question is surprisingly easy! The article I'm most proud of is the first article I had published in Writer's Digest on web sites for romance authors. The article was published in February 1997 and Writer's Digest notified me they are planning to run it a second time as a reprint! One of the major goals I set was to get published in Writer's Digest, a leading publication for writers. Because of this article, I finally realized that I could, in fact, make a living writing full-time.