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By Shirley Kawa-Jump

A lot of writers will tell you that making $1000 a month from writing isn’t all that difficult. But how do they do it?

When I set a goal for “x” number of dollars to make from my writing, I do several things to accomplish that goal:

Diversify — particularly in a still-rocky economy, diversity is the key to ongoing income. I write primarily business and parenting articles, with a large portion of my business articles in trade magazines.

Trades have always had steady work for me and don’t seem to experience the same advertising fluctuations that consumer magazines do. Trades pay better, are usually easier to break into, and are pretty loyal to good freelancers.

Aim for double what you want to get paid. If you want to make $1000, then send out queries and aim for $2000 or more in work.

Writers usually only sell about 40% of what is pitched. Doing a good job every time is important.. when I’m querying publications I already work for, I sell almost everything I pitch because we have an established relationship.

Aim for double because you probably won’t sell everything you pitch, and because when you least expect it, some big paying assignment can and will fall through.

My first national magazine piece was held for a year — and it was payment on publication. I learned then that relying on anything in this industry is a big mistake.

Spend 1/3 of your time looking for new markets; new work. I still do this, although I don’t spend that percentage anymore.

When I was building my freelancing business, I easily spent a third of my week querying, researching new markets, developing ideas, etc. Within a few months, I had made my goal and a few months later, surpassed my monthly income goal.

Always send out some “aiming high” queries. I always include a couple dream markets when I query. If I sell, great; if I don’t, I’ve got the other markets to sell to, too. It doesn’t hurt to dream big.

Work to improve your writing every day. I have never felt like anything I have written was absolutely perfect. I always feel there is room for improvement, areas where I could be stronger.

I study everything I read, from Newsweek to Jenny Crusie books… to try to discover what makes that writing so good, then I apply those lessons to my writing, the best I can.

Know that your writing is worth being paid for. If you are doing the best you can, at your writing, and you are putting forth your best effort in interviewing, etc., then you should be paid for your writing. You are working, and part of taking pride in your craft is realizing there is a value for what you do.

Remember that just when it all seems like it won’t work out, it will.

The day my husband quit his job to pursue buying his own company, I lost two of my biggest clients, which was about 60% of my income. I was the breadwinner all of a sudden and whoosh! All the bread was toast.

Within a week, I had not only replaced that income, but doubled what I had been making each month.


All those queries and feelers I’d been putting out on a regular basis (see #2) came through and I had more work than I could handle.

Throughout the current recession, I had one slow month (December, which is always slow) and that’s it. I’m literally flooded with work right now, and hoping to get some breathing room soon. Really soon. (laughing)

Plan ahead. Like I said a second ago, December is always a slow month for me. So is the early part of the summer. A lot of editors are on vacation or not in work mode and things start to slow down. Plan ahead for those days by increasing your workload a bit in October, November and late spring. The slow times won’t hit your pocketbook when you plan ahead.

The best thing about freelancing is how well it works around a baby. I went back to work the day I got home from the hospital with my second child. I was weak, and tired, but I sat on the couch with my laptop and finished up an article that was due that day.

Ninety percent of my editors never even knew I’d had a baby. I had curtailed my workload, of course, before I had him and for the first few weeks afterwards, but I never stopped entirely. I just worked around his naps or while he played on the floor.

$1000 can definitely be made and quite easily, if you want it badly enough. Just set that bar for yourself, spend some time each day working toward it and you’ll be seeing that money in no time.

“How badly do you want it?” – George E. Allen – British author and publisher – 1832-1907

© 2002 Shirley Kawa-Jump

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