By Alex Fayle
Copyright © 2008 by Alex Fayle, All Rights Reserved
topic on many agent/author blogs and online forums is why writers write?
Most people will freely admit to it being an obsession of sorts and
would write even if they knew they'd never get published. But what about
those of us who write to make money? With any number of ways to earn
money from writing, few of us freelance writers need to worry about
looking for something to write. What many of us lack, especially at the
beginning, is knowledge about running a freelance writing business.
In 2003, I
started my own (non-writing) business and developed most of my business
skills by trial and error. I took the scenic route, spending a lot of
time and money learning how to make money in my previous business,
skills I applied to my new venture as a freelance writer. It's not,
however, a path I would recommend for most people. It's much better to
get the right information from others who have already succeeded, using
resources like FreelanceSwitch.com.
FreelanceSwitch.com (FSW) offers information, tools, and discussions to
new and experienced freelancers to help make their businesses a success.
Now that I have turned my business from consulting and hands-on work to
freelance writing, FSW helps me hone my freelance business skills. There
are many issues that all small business owners have in common, but there
are many others that only freelancers share. FSW focuses on the latter.
nearly 24,000 members have registered for the site, and I'm sure many
more people visit without registering. I've only found one downside to
the site (perhaps because of its popularity?). It often runs slowly, so
be prepared to wait while you navigate around. Despite the slowness,
however, FSW is on my daily round of site visits because it covers a
wide range of topics and learning styles. The main page contains the
most recent blog posts, but there are also discussion forums, a job
board, podcasts, and even a book for those who prefer to read paper.
I love the FSW
blog more than most because FSW doesn't offer readers just one author.
Because freelance means so many different things, and flows across so
many industries and professions, the site offers a group of writers from
a wide range of experience and expertise. And of course, adding pithy
comments on the blog posts, writers can add to their reputation and
The site owners
have not developed the forums as much as most other sites have. As a
result, you'll likely find the FSW forums a little clunky and hard to
navigate. There are only a few categories and so there is not much of a
hierarchy of topics. As a former Records Manager, I cringe when I enter
the forums and do so only when I can't find the information I'm looking
for elsewhere on the site.
If you do have
a specific question, however, the Forums are great for that with people
responding to questions usually the same day.
I don't use the
site for the Job Board, and it is the weakest feature to me. Most of the
job offers are technology-based, and the few writing jobs that are
listed offer little to no remuneration. You can see the postings, but if
you want to see the contact details for each, you must get a
subscription which will cost you $7 US per month. If finding a good job
board interests you, check out the back issues of Vision for a website
review of job sites.
learn by reading, others by watching, and still others by listening. FSW
currently lacks a video component to the learning styles, but their
Podcasts fulfil the needs of those who learn best by listening. A
People's Choice Award for Best Blog Podcast in 2007 proves that they
know what they are doing when it comes to learning by listening. Often
as freelancers we have times that we can't be writing but we want to
still be working – usually while driving somewhere. Downloading these
award-winning podcasts means that you can improve your freelance skills
while in the car, out jogging, or even relaxing in the bath.
section at the moment offers four tools to help you with your business:
a rates calculator, a client analyser, a freelancer survey, and a guide
to passive income. All these tools are top notch and are based on the
experiences of many successful freelancers. While you're in this section
of the site, don't forget to visit the "101 resources for freelancers"
there's the book. Although the authors advertise the book by saying that
it contains information not found on the site, the main reason to buy
the book is to have something physical. Many people find reading on the
web tiring. Plus many writers love nothing more than to curl up with a
good book. There are sample pages available so that you can be sure the
writing style works for you before you go ahead and order it.
Of course, we
do live in a digital world, so the book is available in PDF format. The
digital version will cost you $29 and the print version $35, and if you
sign up to their newsletter you get $10 off. Plus they have an affiliate
program to help you earn some passive income from the book.
So what's in it
for the writer?
should be spent on writing, not on learning how to do business as a
writer. By visiting FSW regularly, and by participating in the forums,
your business skills will grow, and you'll avoid many of the pitfalls
and setbacks that destroy many young freelance careers.