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Writing without a Degree: 4 Tips for Starting a Freelance Writing Career

September 30, 2011 · 7 comments

in Freelancing

 

If you ask anybody these days, they will tell you that it is impossible to get by without a college degree. Of course, this is true on many levels, seeing as how many structured, salaried jobs will specifically require at least a diploma from an accredited four-year institution.  Even though the online world has opened up the possibility to get an MBA or even a doctorate online, still some people are having trouble. At the same time, however, the cost of a college degree has risen so steeply, that acquiring one is beyond the realm of possibility for an increasingly large sector of the population. If you are one of those who, for whatever reason, is unable to attain a college education, never fear! A successful freelance writing career requires experience—not formal education. Here are a few tips for launching your freelance writing career.

1. Inspire yourself by reading famous writers who never went to college.

If you think about most of the 20th century’s great writers – for example, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, and Mark Twain—a large percentage of them received no formal education beyond high school. Even Mark Twain once said, “Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long-run.” When you read the works of these authors, and you also read about them, you will realize that the most successful careers were never linear. History’s great writers simply read a lot, wrote a lot, and experienced life to its fullest.

2. Approach smaller blogs and publications first to collect clips for bigger gigs.

The best way to start a freelance writing career is to start small and build up from there. Write small pieces for publications and blogs that you are very familiar with. Knowing the audience and the subject matter is half the battle. When you first start, you should not expect to get paid for your work. Having several well-written clips published on these smaller venues is crucial in securing bigger, paid gigs later on.

3. Read books that are relevant to your general career and specific niche.

The main reason that a college education is not absolutely necessary for freelance writers is that you learn many things in college that will have no bearing in your future career. Still, even if you aren’t getting a formal education, you will have to educate yourself. Aside from reading as much as you can, you will also have to whittle down your reading to books that are relevant to what you want to write about. If you are interested primarily in food, then it is essential that you read the best food journalism out there. It is also important to read general writing style books like the Associated Press Style Guide.

4. Keep a day job.

freelance career is incredibly rewarding personally. Making it into a full-fledged career in which you can be financially independent is the troublesome part, especially when you first start. As such, be sure that you have an alternative job that does not require a college degree that will enable you to pay your bills as you further develop your freelance writing career.
Freelance writing is an exciting career to jump into, especially if you are passionate about the written word. The most important thing to remember is that it takes hard work, regardless of your level of education. Good luck!

Image Credit to jjpacres

 

Written by Alvina Lopez

Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.

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