I began my so called “freelance writing career” by writing a number of business biographical write-ups for my town’s weekly newspaper and daily website. My write-ups focused on successful local business owners.
I spun my interviews with business owners into interesting short stories, composed as conversational narratives. Thus my stories were engaging, personality-driven, and easily understood by readers.
A few years back I was working as a customer service representative in a local bookstore when the idea struck me. One evening my boss asked me if I would write a profile of his successful business career as a publicity piece for our town’s weekly paper and website. He gave me most of the essential information and I interviewed him further to pad the article with interesting facts and dialogue. In a few days I finished the article. Upon his satisfaction, he paid me $100 for a 450-word profile on him and his business.
Shortly after I wrote the article for my boss, I realized that I could offer the same writing service to other local business owners. Any number of local shop owners and entrepreneurs would want an engaging profile piece about them and their business, pitched to and printed in the town’s newspaper and/or website. I contacted a few local newspaper editors to pitch them my idea for a weekly column on business people in our area, and 3 out of the 5 editors were interested—provided that I could write well-written, objective,
I contacted a few local newspaper editors to pitch them my idea for a weekly column on business people in our area, and 3 out of the 5 editors were interested—provided that I could write well-written, objective, personable profiles. Another important stipulation was that I could not accept payment from the business owner whom I was interviewing. I would receive payment from the editors.
With the editors’ confidence in me, the rest was easy. In 10 days I had secured enough writing assignments from business owners to occupy me for a while. The business profile columns for three local newspapers ran for two years. For each weekly column (500-700 words), the editors paid me from $100 to $175 and $20 per photo.
Every town or community has its own fanfare of celebrated citizens. Engaging narratives of local “celebrities” printed in the local paper or published on the paper’s website always amuses local readers who know and see these individuals frequently or infrequently.
Show the value of your work
A different approach is to pitch yourself as a “business copywriter” in your neighborhood. Visit your most popular business owners and show them the importance of a “business write-up” or promotional copy for a new ad or brochure, running jointly with their usual advertising. They will pay you higher rates than news editors if you can persuade them that you can improve their business and increase their sales. In doing this type of work you will gain valuable experience and skills in writing different forms of copy.