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Miss Virtual Reality

Friday, March 20, 2009

Freelance Writer Series-Interview With Paul Lima

As a freelance writer myself, I get asked question often and I thought why don't I just start posting some info on here? So this is the first post in the series and I hope that you find it useful.
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Paul Lima is a business writer, who has been writing for 25 years. Here is my interview with him.

MVR:Tell us about your self and career?

Lima:I've been a professional writer for over 25 years and a freelance writer and
writing trainer for about 15 years. I voluntarily chose to become a
freelancer - in other words, I was not downsized!

MVR:What made you decide to go into freelance writing?

Lima:I am an English major but while in college, I wrote some articles for my
university newspaper. I thought about going into journalism, but the allure
(and money) of copywriting called to me. After working in advertising and
marketing for a decade, I decided to try my hand a journalism. I left my
job, hung out my "freelance writer shingle" and started to land gigs. I also
did a little training to supplement my writing income. I earned the bulk of
my income writing for newspapers and magazines for about a decade, but my
freelance career evolved. I still write for a few periodicals, but I also do
corporate writing and conduct business writing seminars for corporate
clients. In addition, I've written several books on the business of
freelance writing, creative writing and writing promotional copy. I find I
really enjoy the mix.

MVR:How did you get your start in it?

Lima:I started writing for community newspapers at 10-cents per word. The first
two years were a struggle; I had been used to a steady pay check. However, I
worked on developing article ideas and pitched better paying publications,
and my writing business grew. To succeed in this business, you have to have
desire - you have to want to do it. You also have to dedicate time to
developing ideas, pitching, following up or, if you want to do corporate
writing, to pitching your services to potential clients. And you have to
dedicate your time in a disciplined manner. If you give up after a couple of
weeks or a couple of months, you will have difficulty making it. This is
true of any small business.

MVR:What do you know now about freelance writing, that you wished you knew
when you started?

Lima:I wish I knew that freelance writing was a business. Like most businesses,
you have to determine what it is you are selling and you have to figure out
who you should be selling it to. Then you have to market yourself and your
services or article ideas. In other words, you can declare yourself a
freelance and hope manna falls from the heavens, or you can declare yourself
a freelance and work at making your own bread.

MVR:Any tips for people just starting their freelance careers?

Lima:Start with a business vision. Who are you? What do you do, what types of
article or writing services do you sell? Who do you sell it to? Why do you
want to do this? When and where do you do it? (I like to work from home,
and I take December off to work on my books, so I would not accept a
contract that required me to commute to work every day, and I don't do much
marketing in November because I want to do my own thing in December.) You
need to sort all that out before you can start to think of the how, as in
"how do I make this happen?" So business vision first; marketing plan second
-- to make your vision real.

MVR:Any thing you want to add?(you can use this one to advertise or whatever
you'd like)

Lima:My breakthrough came after I took a freelance writing continuing education
course. I thought the course would focus on writing. It did, in part, but it
also paid a lot of attention to the business side of freelancing. Since
then, I have been a firm believer in professional development. I've taught
workshops on freelance writing, written several books, conduct e-courses for
aspiring writers, and write a blog on the business of freelance writing
(www.paullima.com/blog). It is so important to create a firm foundation of
knowledge before you build your business, so if you are getting started
learn about the business you are venturing into. Knowledge can really reduce
the learning curve.

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You can contact him at his site PaulLima.com