I earn a notable amount of money, at least according to the Internal Revenue Service, as a published writer, mainly for magazines, both online and print issues. I have no formal training as a writer, no Masters of Fine Arts (MFA), and no degree in journalism. I do have a degree and state license as an occupational therapist, as well as a degree in accounting, and a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Administration. I am frugal and am often described as entrepreneurial; I seem to have a knack for seeing pursuing possibilities that others typically overlook. I love to write, and have been able to combine all these skills and attributes into a fun and fulfilling, late-in-life career as a freelance writer.
The pattern in my life, and even in some of the short fiction that I have written, is that I perceive that I am on one road, but it turns out that I am somewhere completely different and unexpected, yet it always seems to end happily ever after. Certainly, the journey of becoming a professional writer has followed this sort of series of events.
Your job or profession may provide a chance to get published.
Besides writing letters to the editor when I was in high school in the 1960s, my first experience with published writing occurred in the 1990s when I was attending graduate school, at an age older than the majority of students. Many of my research papers received an “A” as well as accolades from my professors. I opted to submit some manuscripts to therapy publications. One of my papers was published, and I was surprised when a generous check arrived in the mail. I have also written some professional book reviews for my therapy association journal; though I received no pay, I did get several really interesting therapy books to keep.
Hobbies can generate ideas and markets for your writing.
I am seriously interested in family tree research, and have taught classes in genealogy to people in their teen years as well as to adults of all ages. In 2008, I was able to locate a relative after a many year search by my parents. Ancestry Magazine bought my article about this discovery and paid me handsomely.
That was the same year that I later attended the Midwest Writers Workshop after which I embarked on magazine writing. Perhaps the most important tip that I took away from that workshop is that it is okay to write for free, because that can lead to paying jobs. Always remember, readers have no idea how much money that the author was paid, if anything.
Visiting my hometown last year, I discovered a beautiful glossy monthly local magazine that was circulated to residents in town. Within six months’ time, I had five pieces published about some of my hobbies, such as bread-baking, including several photos that I had taken. My family was excited each time the magazine with my article arrived in their mail. The magazine is no longer in business; otherwise I would still be sending them my articles.
Writing for free often leads to paid writing jobs.
Also, in 2008, I stumbled across a magazine called Young Money. I wrote a few articles for them gratis, and they ultimately offered me a paid position to write a weekly column for their online venue, which I did, until the magazine was sold a few years ago. Through freelancewriting.com, I learned that The Dollar Stretcher was looking for freelance writers. So began my stint writing for TDS, and you can read my many articles on their web site and also some in their print publication.
One of the articles that I wrote for The Dollar Stretcher was about selling your goods at the farmer’s market, written under my pen name, Lee Doppelt. Like many of my articles in TDS, they bought the rights to that article. My article ultimately appeared on the web site of the highly respected Forbes Magazine, www.forbes.com. It’s amazing the kudos that I received from family and friends and other readers, knowing that Forbes saw value in my writing.
Markets that you may not have considered can lead you toward interesting writing venues.
In 2004, I applied to volunteer for The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, NBCOT. One of the positions was to become an item writer. This involved constructing test questions for the exam that students take to become an occupational therapist using a rubric and specific sources provided by NBCOT. I enjoyed the task and served as an item writer until my term expired recently.
A few years later, I was working on an article for The Dollar Stretcher about earning money while working at home. While doing the research for this piece, I discovered that the ACT, the test that you took while in high school, and your children or grandchildren still take today, used freelance writers. The short version of this story is that I was asked to be a paid essay writer for the ACT. I liked writing ACT essays, and several of my essays were purchased by them, until they opted to use their own in-house writers instead of freelancers.
Several few months ago, as a result of using LinkedIn, I was contacted by a woman who publishes preparation manuals for student who will soon take the occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant certification exams. She offered me a very lucrative opportunity to help create study materials. Had my non-competition agreement with NBCOT expired, I would have jumped at this writing challenge.
Don’t say “no” this this type of free vacation?
I love to travel. Our local daily newspaper welcomes readers to write articles following their submission guidelines and to submit photographs. To date, the News-Gazette has published and printed five of my travel adventures. One of the articles happened to catch the eye of the manager of the Visitors Bureau from one of the counties of a neighboring state. She offered me an all-expense paid three day weekend of meals, lodging, and a variety of activities, with no obligation or expectation from me. After searching online to make sure this was not a scam, I agreed to visit her county as her special guest. We enjoyed a fabulous weekend, and of course I wanted to write several articles about this destination. I have since written some pieces for our own local tourist center as a guest blogger, about upcoming events right here near home.
The only answer to this question is “YES”!
The winter of 2013 to 2014 here in the Midwest was unusually cold and snowy. I figured it was a good time to drink tea, sit by the fire to stay warm, and to write. I wanted to experiment with a different kind of writing, so I wrote a few pieces for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners, www.advanceweb.com. I received an email from the editor asking if I would like to write a weekly blog for Advance.
I see myself as someone who goes my own way while still following the rules. And that way of thinking has paid off for me, because my writing in just a few short years has found its way into some unexpected places. Be a little more adventurous with your writing, and think outside the book.
About the author:
Debra L. Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, accountant, teacher, public speaker, mother and grandmother and freelance writer for several print and online venues. She writes a weekly blog for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners and has been a featured columnist for grandmagazine.com and for Young Money and writes regularly for The Dollar Stretcher. She has been an item writer for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and an essay writer for the ACT. She speaks to high school students who are aspiring writers and has taught magazine writing classes through her local public school adult education program. She is consumed with hobbies including genealogy and do-it-yourself projects at home. She had articles published about all of the above. Learn more about Ms. Karplus at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com.
Also by Debra Karplus:
1. Freelance Magazine Writing, It’s My Business (article)
2. How to Conduct a Creative Writing Class for Children (article)
3. Sell Your Non-fiction Article by Writing a Winning Query Letter (article)
4. 7 Effective Ways to Market your Articles (article)
5. Breaking into New Markets with your Freelance Writing
6. Generate More Writing Opportunities with an Online Presence (article)
7. How to Build an Idea Bank to Write Interesting Articles (article)
8. How to Make Your Article SEO-Friendly Before Selling It (article)