Lessons Learnt From My First Year Of Freelancing

Written By: Arundhati Nath

Writing is perhaps one of the oldest means of communication through which humanity has expressed its many different moods. Skilful weaving of words has created world famous stories, plays, novels and nonfiction.

I had always dreamt of becoming a freelance creative writer and creating magic with my words. Having a fetish for words and the habit of scribbling led me to join the creative writing course at the Writers Bureau, UK a year back. However, owing to a full time job and my post graduation studies, I’m not able to devote too much time to writing. Although I have only five articles in print so far, I would like to share whatever I have learnt from my first year of freelancing.  

On getting ideas:  Although we often hear people saying — ideas are all around you; it seems difficult to find article ideas to newbie freelance writers. In order to start getting ideas, it is always the best to have a peek into our own lives. Be it our dream, problem, relationship story, background, education or career, each of them can have potential for articles.  I’m a bank employee and I have written an article titled ‘Budgeting for Baby’ for Child magazine. Our problems can also trigger article ideas. As an example, how about an article titled ‘6 Ways to fight Anxiety in Women’ for a woman’s or health magazine? We can also write travel pieces about the places where we reside or work. These could be read with great interest by people who reside in another state or country.

On analysing a magazine: Once we have chosen a magazine we wish to write for, we should check if it accepts work from freelancers.  This information can be gathered from a writers group or by going through a few recent copies of the magazine. If we find different author by lines in different issues, it should accept freelance work. Next, we should look at the different types of articles and advertisements contained in it. We should note the style, readership, length, tone and vocabulary level of the articles so that we are able to match our ideas according to the needs to the particular magazine. .

On writing the perfect pitch: Querying by email is a must to get freelance assignments in magazines.  We must try to focus our query in to a particular section of the magazine; which accepts work from freelancers.  The query should begin with an attention grabbing line or the hook which should immediately evoke an editor’s interest. A question, a startling fact or scene setting could work well as a hook.  The query is our only route to get freelance work and hence must be polished to the best of our ability. I had pitched an article idea to an editor about raising money smart kids, which began with the following sentence: ‘How do we teach our kids about money?’ is a question most parents would find difficult to answer...

On writing the article: Once our query is accepted and the article is assigned to us, we must remember to give ourselves a pat on the back! Now it is the time to write out the article. It is always the best to write as per the outline we had submitted and to cooperate and clear up any doubts which may remain with the editor. Lively language which suits the magazine should be used and we should try to be within the word limit set to us.  And finally, we should never miss a deadline!

About the author:

I’m a banker by day and a writer by night. I have written for Child, Crystal Quest and The Assam Tribune so far Though I’m writing nonfiction these days, I would hopefully, want to be a children’s author some day in the future.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. May I know your real name? :)

  2. Replies
    1. I am also a banker and want to be a writer.please guide...

    2. Hi Simanta, I have written whatever I have learnt in the above article. You can visit http://www.writing-world.com/ which is a great resource for both new and experienced writers. Hope that helps. All the best!

  3. Working hard and struggling harder. Sometimes getting down in the dump with all the failures and, sometimes over the moon with little success. This write-up was good for what ails you. Really commendable!


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