www.inkthinkerblog.com — I’m liveblogging the AIW Going Freelance! seminar today at Johns Hopkins University. Forgive the typos, as I’m trying to keep up. You can handle it. Trust me. -kk
LESTER REINGOLD: The “serendipity” approach to finding work as a freelancer
In short, make your own luck and capitalize on opportunities. He didn’t start off with the intention of writing commercially, but he ended up doing it. He transitioned from full-time to freelance work. He went to Columbia for journalism but found himself not really using it. He wrote for some steady clients, including a trade pub, Conde Nast Traveler, and the magazine of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.
Principles that have worked for him
- Achieve the right amount of specialization. The right amount is the amount that makes you credible but doesn’t close you off from other fields. Identify subspecialties within your specialty. For aerospace, you have air safety, regional carriers, national and international carriers, etc. The value in specializing is that you learn the jargon and the issues you’ll need to be able to speak the language of your field. You don’t have to be a professional in the field to be a specialist in the field. You might not fly planes, but you can right about them.
- As you write in one field, be on the lookout for related areas. There are many organizations in a single field, as well as organizations interested in the field or in the organizations within the field — and they all need writers. Very often, they want to hire people to write their publications.
- Build on ideas, topics and research you have compiled for previous assignments. Repurposing your research, knowledge, and concepts can yield dozens if not hundreds of articles.
- Maintain enough momentum in a field so you become a known quantity. When people know who you are and know what kind of work you do, they will prefer you over unknowns.