In the infamous words of Donald Trump, ?you're fired.? Or maybe you're laid off. Whatever the reason for your loss of job, you're in a fine fix now. You've always wanted to stay at home and write, but can you really survive when you're on an ?eat what you kill? plan?
I would say the answer is a resounding yes, but that would depend on your determination to succeed. If you're a writer who takes a rejection personally and needs a few days to recover, then the answer would more than likely be no. But if you have more tenacity than Arnold Schwarzenegger has muscles, you're in good shape.
Now that you've dealt with the emotions and inner turmoil of losing your sole source of income, it's time to put your tenacity to the test. You may still be looking for a full-time job, or you may have decided to forge ahead with your freelance writing career. Either way, you need money, and if writing is your passion, you can make good money online.
First, you need a plan, a clearly written daily planner so you will be motivated to move ahead each day. I use a calendar book and plenty of written lists. My day goes something like this:
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Submit already prepared articles to perspective paying magazines or e-zines.
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Enter at least two no-entry fee writing contests which offer money as a prize and has a short turnaround time.
12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Submit short story to at least three online markets who offer regular payment not just complimentary issues or publicity. (Remember, money is what you need now.)
2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Work on writing articles and short stories for the next day's submission.
I'm sure you get the picture by now, and while I certainly don't expect your schedule to look anything like mine (this was merely an example, by the way, as I have other freelance jobs which claim some of my time), you should set up a schedule for yourself. Set an egg timer if you need to so you don't get bogged down with one task. Knowing you're on a time table can motivate you.
Second, you need to spend at least half a day each week (beginning now) researching the markets at places like www.fundsforwriters.com, www.freelancewriting.com, www.anthologiesonline.com, www.writing-world.com, http://www.internet-resources.com/writers/markets/online-guidelinesCD.htm#CCC and don't forget to Google any areas of interest such as travel writing, etc. Once you have done your research and know which markets you'd like to target, put a solid idea together and submit the query if you're a fast writer. If it tends to take you a day or two to write an 800 word article, you might want to write it first and then query.
Next, learn to think outside the box. It's a tired saying, but true when it comes to earning a living online. For example, did you know about www.finetuning.com? This is a website entirely devoted to non-fiction articles? They allow you to write about any subject; you just have to clear, concise, informative and conversational. There is a submission process, but it only takes a few days to get an acceptance (or possibly a rejection). They pay using Paypal and their rates aren't bad.
For more non-fiction articles related to women, check out http://www.skirtmag.com/contributor.shtml. They are looking for articles relating to women's interests. Another great place is www.sasee.com. This last one pays extremely well for a 900 word article. And if you aren't easily embarrassed and like writing about women's sexuality, Lady Jaided Magazine, which debuts in July 2005, is looking for articles as well. You can visit them on the web at www.ladyjaided.com.
Think about using the skills you've learned at your previous job or college. For instance, I spent seventeen years as a paralegal until I gave up my job to focus on my writing career. Guess what places I look to write for now? Websites for legal assistants (http://www.legalassistanttoday.com/editorial_guide.htm), legal secretaries and even those individuals training to become a paralegal are excellent places to target with my experience. So look for places related to your field.
Additionally, because my major in college was English, I'm a freelance editor which brings in literally hundreds of dollars a month. One job alone paid $500 and took me less than two weeks only working a couple of hours a day. So if you're good with grammar and punctuation, you might want to consider becoming a copyeditor or proofreader while you build up your writing career. Many online e-book publishers look for proofreaders or editors and they pay a percentage of the royalties for each book sold.
Short stories are an excellent way of earning money online. There are literally hundreds of markets for fiction stories and places like Glimmer Train (www.glimmertrain.com) pay well as do literary journals online. Also, don't discount the lower-paying places like http://www.vestalreview.net/submissions.htm which publishes flash fiction. It actually pays better for stories of 100 words or less, and while you're not going to get rich writing for them, if your story gets accepted, that will be money you didn't have in your pocket before you submitted.
Okay, so now that you have your plan laid out for short stories and non-fiction articles, it's time to tackle another market. If you're creative enough to write short prose or poetry, writing for greeting cards could be an open door for you. P.S. Greetings, Inc. (http://www.psg-fpp.com/creative_guidelines.htm) and Blue Mountain Arts (http://www.sps.com/) have posted guidelines and are consistently posting ads on www.freelancewriting.com. If you're gifted in this area, this could be steady income for you. Check out http://www.writerswrite.com/greetingcards/publish.htm for many more greeting card markets.
Want yet another market? Write a career guide for Fabjob which you can find here: http://www.fabjob.com/jobs.html or become a freelance researcher/writer for them. You would need extensive experience in the career field for which you write the guide, but the payment is exemplary.
Now the last paying opportunity I'm going to talk about is writing and teaching courses for online classrooms. Places like www.Suite101.com and http://www.universalclass.com/ invite you to create a course about nearly anything to teach. Whether you teach in your current career field or a hobby you've loved for years, the possibilities are endless, and as a former instructor, I can tell you the pay isn't bad.
So with all these markets and possibilities, you should be able to keep yourself busy for quite some time and keep your wallet from gathering dust. Let me leave you with one final thought. All of these websites and guidelines will not help you without motivation and determination. If you're working as a freelance writer, you decide your paycheck. Make sure you're well-paid.
I'm a published author of contemporary, fantasy and paranormal romances and currently write for Ellora's Cave and Five Star/Gale. I recently participated in a collaboration novel entitled ?Bewitched, Bothered & BeVampyred? with Mary Janice Davidson, Susan Grant, Patricia Rice, Mary Jo Putney, Gena Showalter and other talented authors. All proceeds from this book go to benefit the International Red Cross.