Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, October 1, 2007

Get a Freelance Life

I've been reading Get a Freelance Life, by Margit Feury Ragland. If you've ever heard of or used, you should know that this book is the site's "Insider Guide to Freelance Writing." I actually bought the book a little under a year ago when the idea of freelancing was just a glimmer of a thought in my head. I read a chapter or two when I first bought it and got enough out of the book to mentally plan the basement office I finally put together less than two weeks ago. But the book sat on my shelf for months before I put the necessary information it provided to work for me.

As Lisa, Marisa Tomei's character in the movie My Cousin Vinny put it: "They didn't teach you that in law school?" Only in my case, the question would've been "They didn't teach you that in journalism school?" And like Vincent Gambini's answer, mine is "No."

Being a journalism grad doesn't mean you have the knowledge necessary to survive in the real world as a journalist, particularly a freelance one. At least, that's been my experience. What I learned as a Journalism student was how to write a good lede and article, AP Style and journalism ethics. Don't get me wrong, those are essential skills that definitely help you survive in the real world, but like love... they're just not enough.

One of the many things I had no clue how to do before I read Get a Freelance Life was how to write a good query letter. More importantly, I found out what a query letter really encompasses. I learned that a query letter is so important, that it can eliminate the need for a resume altogether. Also, I thought I really knew the types of articles out there, and upon reading the section explaining what types of articles are out there, I realized I was close to being clueless in that area.
The cool thing about Get a Freelance Life, is that it not only covers the writing part of freelancing, but it also covers everything else a freelance writer must take into account. For instance, it gives pointers on how to organize finances, whether to incorporate yourself or not, and how to find an accountant and lawyer to handle your freelancing business issues and expenses.

Though I'm not completely finished with Get a Freelance Life, I feel like I've gained a treasure trove of knowledge that will help me immensely. I've gained a better view of what is possible for me to write and where it is possible for me to write it.

Though college gave me the skills necessary to be a good writer, Get a Freelance Life finishes the job of teaching good writers how to be successful writers.

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