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13 freelance markets to explore beyond article writing

Widen your freelance horizons.

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Scriptwriting

When you think of scriptwriting, you probably think of movies and televisions shows. But freelance writing opportunities go beyond the big screen. If you have ever had to watch a training video or taken a structured online e-learning class, chances are high that a freelance writer wrote the scripts for those programs. Denver-based freelance video producer, eLearning developer, and scriptwriter Kevin Hart (not the actor and comedian from Jumanji and Ride Along) makes his living writing these types of scripts. He says the biggest difference between writing scripts for movies and business purposes is that movie scripts focus on entertaining, and corporate-centered writing focuses on learning and informing. To effectively create such scripts, Hart says, it’s beneficial to have worked in any kind of corporate environment. “It helps to gain a working understanding of business systems, practices, and culture.” If you consider this type of work, Hart has a few suggestions. First, learn how to learn. “You must figure out how to write – and write with authority – on any topic. Regardless of any corporate experience, you will always encounter situations where you are writing about something you don’t know anything about. Presently, I’m writing scripts for a biologics company that creates and sells stem cells. Before taking this job, I never knew a thing about that.” Next, he encourages writers to reach out to experts. “Find the stakeholders and experts – or subject matter experts (SME) – and cull all the relevant knowledge you can from them. Drill down to gain insights on the ‘inside’ stuff.” Have a professional and up-to-date profile on LinkedIn before seeking these jobs. Hart finds most of his work through former and present colleagues, so networking is an important aspect of success in this line of writing. 

Book reviews

Reading is a favorite pastime for most writers, so why not combine the two and become a book reviewer? Outlets like Kirkus and Online Book Club pay for reviews, plus it’s a great way to build your writing skills and get free books in the process. That said, when writing book reviews, you always need to keep the reader in mind and consider what will be the most helpful to them. Your review needs to be honest, but since not everyone has the same tastes as you, it must also be as objective as possible. There may be a story that’s written well, but it might not be your cup of tea. It would be unfair to the author if you left a scathing review just because you don’t like stories with certain elements or tropes – and unfair to fans of those elements and tropes, too. You want to step back and look at the story as a whole and share what you liked, what could have been improved, what questions it made the reader consider, and the reasoning behind your thoughts. If you’re just starting out, think about the types and genres of books you are interested in reviewing. By specializing in specific genres, you become more familiar with the nuances of those books and ultimately will be seen as more of an expert in those areas. To practice writing reviews, read lots of books and consider posting reviews on your own blog, social media accounts, or an established site like Goodreads. When you are ready to pitch your reviews to book review sites, magazines, or newspapers, carefully read and follow their guidelines.

Video game writing


For writers who love playing video games, there are opportunities to write game storylines. It’s not easy to break into this field, but if you are a passionate gamer with good writing skills and are willing to research this market, you are more likely to find success. Evan Skolnick, a narrative contributor on over 50 video game titles, says, “a writer needs to learn the conventions, challenges, and pitfalls of every storytelling form they are going to attempt to tackle. This is true of video game writing, too.” You are catering to players, not readers, and because of the interactive nature of the games, the field has unique nuances. Arjan Terpstra, a freelance game writer and author of six game books, uses his background in journalism and copywriting to help with the games he writes: “Copywriting taught me to listen closely to the client and find creativity while being constrained by a certain format.” His background performing interviews as a journalist taught him how to mimic speech patterns for game dialogue. 

Skolnick’s advice for newbies? “If you’re interested in dipping your toe into the game writing space, the book I recommend is Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Video Games, edited by Chris Bateman, and the tool I recommend starting with is Twine (twinery.org), which is a free and easy-to-learn platform for quickly creating interactive, prose-based stories.”

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Grant writing

Do you have an eye for details and a talent for technical writing? Then grant writing might be a great option for you. Many nonprofits rely on grants to raise money for operations, capital expenses, events, and programs. Foundations, corporations, and the government offer grants to provide funding to an organization or individual. A grant writer is expected to research grant opportunities and find the ones worth applying for, review the guidelines, and then create proposals that include all the needed information, along with compelling content to showcase why the organization deserves the grant money. To be a grant writer, you need solid writing skills (which include being a persuasive writer), the ability to conduct thorough research on the types of grants available, a knack for organizing all the paperwork involved, an eye for details concerning guidelines, and the capability to include all the needed documents in the proposal. 

For those willing to put the time and effort into learning how to be an effective grant writer, this type of freelance work can be lucrative. Study what it takes, create a LinkedIn profile, research opportunities, make a professional website showcasing you and your skills, and consider joining the American Grant Writers’ Association (agwa.us). Grant writing certification programs and classes, such as those at nonprofitready.org, can also help you learn more about this field. 

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