Hey Guys, Freelance Writing Is Really Easy, Just Check Craigslist

MainStreet.com gives us possibly the most abridged version ever of “how to be a freelance writer.” First, writer Eleni Himaras says, you need a computer and a “firm grasp on the English language.” Then it’s just a matter of going to these six web sites and watching money fall from the sky!

We think Himaras doesn’t really want to help people become freelancers, because if she did, she wouldn’t have recommended the following six sites:
Getafreelancer.com (though oddly, this site isn’t really “recommended”—yet Himaras included it on her list of six sites)
Craigslist.org (yes, really, though Himaras offers this caveat: “as always with Craigslist, beware of scammers.”)
Suite101.com (which pays residuals…great)

Has anyone actually used these—and only these—to get real, well-paying freelance gigs?

Look, folks. Here’s the deal.

Get a copy of Writer’s Market. It doesn’t have to be the latest edition, because you’re not going to use the listings much. What you need is the front-of-book matter that shows you how to write a query letter. Get some magazines you like, study them, and figure out a couple good ideas. Then get the name of the editor who accepts pitches (Googling or using our AG-only Mastheads tool can help) and write a nice e-mail or letter. Include your clips. If you don’t have any clips, you’ll have to start smaller, like with your local community weekly or the free magazine you picked up at the dentist’s office. This is why you’re not going to use the Writer’s Market listings—because the places you’re starting with are not in that book.

We’ve also had luck with (and this is true, not product placement) Mediabistro’s job board, which sometimes has freelance gigs. Think about it this way: if it’s free for the employer to post a gig, they probably don’t have much of a budget. Requiring a small fee ensures that everyone is serious.