I just graduated college with a degree in English/writing, should I move to a major city if I want to find work, or does it not matter as much because of the influence of the internet on freelance writing jobs?


Carrie Hagen, Nonfiction Writer and Researcher, Teacher

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It is hard to start out as a freelance writer wherever you live, but of course you can do it! I suggest staying where you are to concentrate on your "niche." What genre is your strength? Spend time looking for those outlets that might publish your work. Spend as much time as you can reading through articles on those sites and honing your pitches. It might take a little while, but you will find "an in." And once you do, you'll start gathering clips and learning more about what you do/don't like writing regularly about.

At that point, I think it makes to consider your location and how networking might help you write more about your topic(s) of interest.

Lisa Hiton, Poet, Professor, Filmmaker, Writer, Arts Educator

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It will depend on what kind of job you hope to have. If you want to be a freelance writer, then you could really be anywhere, so long as you are active about applications and keeping to your schedule for pieces assigned.

If you're looking to break into publishing or a specific kind of writing, cities do have some advantages. For example, being in New York or Boston will allow you to network with people you may want to work for. If you want to be a staff writer for a big publication, it would also behoove you to consider a city. It will allow you to begin as a contributor and work your way up. For example, I have many friends who started at smaller papers or magazines as interns or copywriters and ended up being staff writers and/or editors at places like Boston Magazine, Thrillist, etc.

M. Erez Kats, Seattle Language Arts Teacher, Author, and Artist

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I would have to echo the sentiments of several experts above in warning you of the difficulty in paying bills on a freelance writer's salary. I think it is a bit of a conundrum when living in a bigger city, because although you have more opportunities to meet the right people you want to work with or find the right companies, there is also a lot more competition at the same time and bills are typically much higher so pressure and your stress level will likely go up as well. This is why you need to know exactly what it is you want to write about, and this might help make your decision easier. If you are a science writer for instance, writing in a small town where the rural surroundings needed for research and interviews are key, this might make things easier. On the other hand, if you are writing about fashion or cooking let's say, being in a city with large fashion shows, or many different high-end restaurants being present and abundant - this will likely be much more important and helpful to you. So it is important to think about these priorities ahead of time, and make your moves strategically. Like most jobs, the more preparation and investigation you do ahead of time, the more likely you are to reach your goals and find the results you want. Then you also must decide if your goals are more professional or financial, because as sometimes or often is the case here, you can grow in one or the other, but not both. You really have to come up with the strategy that will be most effective for you. Good luck, and I hope this helps you!

Elizabeth Mack, Community College Writing Center Consultant, English Instructor, Writer

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As a part-time freelance writer with degrees in English and Writing as well, I will offer my experience. When I graduated (about 10 years ago) I wanted to freelance write full time. However, with no regular clients, I soon found this to be unrealistic. So I mottled together teaching and tutoring as I built my client list. During this time, I was writing for local and regional publications and amassed lots of writing samples, though local and regional mags don't pay as well as national pubs. However, they are great starting places to get clips to approach higher paying pubs, including custom publications. (For more info on custom publications, visit the link below.) Many freelancers do quite well writing for businesses, such as advertising copy, white papers, and internal/external communication. However, living in a very small town might prohibit you from working for businesses unless you have contacts or strong industries in your area.

Give a lot of thought to what kind of writer you want to be, pick a niche (you can have several) and start. Unless you want to work for an editor or publishing house, I’m not sure you need to move to New York or even a big city. Create a professional website, get your name online and out in the world, and go for it. One of the best sources I have found for freelance writers is Renegade Writer (http://www.therenegadewriter.com/). It has a wealth of information for those new to freelancing. Good luck!

Colleen Clemens, College Professor, Writer, Editor, Tutor & Parent

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I wonder if you are considering a run at a portfolio career. If you are, you may be able to find work in either setting. While a city is going to have more opportunities in situ, you might find that there's a lot more competition for the work. Without knowing what kind of writing you want to do, it is hard to make a suggestion. Freelancing is a hard gig, though when you are working with a portfolio model, you have some kind of anchor job and then you build on that one. So here's the hard truth about writing for the Internet: you will find work, but it won't pay you all that much per piece. I have been writing a long time and I have a lot of credentials, and I make about $300 a month from my writing. And that takes up a good portion of my writing time. Sadly, people don't really want to pay for their content, so writers don't make all that much money.

Wherever you land, be sure to write your own blog with some content on it to start getting your name out there in the writing community.

I wish you well!

Maryann Aita, Writer and Expert Tutor

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When looking for your first job out of college, there are trade-offs associated with being a large city vs. a smaller one. Not knowing where you live, it's hard to give more specific advice, but you'll certainly want to give thought to moving expenses, cost of living, and the job opportunities available.

In a larger city, there are more papers, magazines, publishing companies etc., which means there will be more jobs available. However, there will also be a lot more competition for those jobs. This also means there's a very good chance that you will start at the bottom of the ladder. But that leaves more room for growth and a chance to really learn the ins and outs.

In a smaller city, you have a better chance of a higher entry-level position. Although, this might mean less room for growth, it also allows you to get some credentials to build your portfolio for freelancing.

If you're trying to work as a freelance writer, your location isn't as important as being vigilant with applications. Although, you may have more opportunities for articles in a larger city, such as more people to interview, more locations to report on, restaurants or shows to review, etc. On the other hand, being a freelancer means variable income, so keeping your costs lower by living somewhere less expensive could benefit you.

I should point out that it's very difficult to pay all of your bills through freelance writing straight out of college. As you mentioned, online magazines and writing jobs do make it possible to work from anywhere, but that also means you're competing with writers everywhere. Many of them may have previously worked as staff writers for publications. That's not to say you shouldn't try, but I'd encourage you to think about applying to full-time or part-positions elsewhere to help with finances.

If I were in your position, I'd apply to jobs wherever I could and see what comes back. You may get a job in a large city that's willing to cover some moving expenses, but this isn't always the case. It's also not a bad idea to take a job at a local publication, build your credentials and save money, then try to move elsewhere. Moving is expensive and stressful. If you're looking for your first job and trying to find a place to live, that will be a lot on your plate.

Ultimately, it's a decision to think over and you have to do what feels like it will be the best given your budget, career goals, and where you feel you'll be most happy.

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