As a freelance writer, you’re only really as good as your last story in a way. And what does that rely on? Brainstorming. But we’ll get to that in a minute. First to your ideas.
It might sound a bit harsh and scary to say you live and die by your ideas, yet in some ways I think it’s true. It speaks to the panic you can feel when you know you’ve got to keep coming up with new stories and continue to pitch. But to pitch, you need to brainstorm.
Pitch, pitch and pitch again
The constant need to pitch stories and come up with story ideas can be stressful and draining. It’s one of the things I don’t particularly like about freelancing. It’s the other side of the coin, I suppose, to the freedom and variety that you can have as a freelance writer.
Can you find a safe haven in a niche?
It’s why many freelance writers stay in a niche because you get to know the subject and it’s easier and quicker coming up with story ideas and if you’re worked that niche for a while you will get to know the editors and that makes pitching a whole heap easier. Still no guarantees of getting your stories accepted, mind you, but you’ll usually hear back and get a nice, sometimes encouraging, ‘thanks, but try again’ email.
Do you even have any ideas?
So back to ideas. I think it’s worth amending that earlier statement to perhaps say that as freelancer you’re only as good as your ideas. So that leaves the investable next question … do you have any ideas? I found in the very early days of going back to freelancing I was something of an idea free zone. This may have had a lot to do with the mental load of moving my life and two children from Australia to the UK and sightseeing for a few weeks then knuckling down to the mountain of admin. Here’s a snapshot: mobile provider, tax number, school, cars, car insurance, house lease, internet provider, utilise, health number, doctor and so on and so forth.
The good news is that as the admin work has receded my mind has found the capacity to generate some ideas and I’ve been feeling enthused by seeing what I can come up with for new stories. I’ve also been brainstorming new ways to generate income. It’s a must these days as a freelancer writer, or solopreneur, which is what we should call ourselves, to have a portfolio of services and incomes streams. The next step after brainstorming is to develop the ideas into stories that will eventually from the basis of your editorial calendar and publishing schedule.
- Okay so here are some of my tips for brainstorming:
- Don’t panic, the ideas will come.
- See everyone and everything as a potential idea.
- What is concerning or interesting you and those around you. Is this a story?
- Get critical: see what’s wrong, not working and not right. Lots of ideas here.
- Get positive: write down everything that’s good and see if there is a story/ies in it.
- Subscribe to email lists and newsletters from interesting sources such as newspapers, websites.
- Keep an ideas file such as a word doc or an Evernote file and store ideas.
Get out of your bubble to brainstorm
Be open, but consciously try to get out of your little social and online bubble by looking for new groups or pages on Facebook, read newspapers from overseas for a different perspective and just be open. You’ll surprise yourself where and when you’ll find ideas. You might even come up with a new business ideas or a new gadget that you just have to launch on Pozible.