Arkansas Freelance Writers Find Footing on National Press Scene

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Apr. 15, 2013 12:00 am  

The guide’s editor liked his work, “so when I wrote to Traveler I gave them some references and she was one of the references.” In an “amazing coincidence,” the editor had worked at National Geographic. “She knew those guys and they knew her. So when they called her she was enthusiastic about me and gave me a good recommendation.”

In addition, Traveler had just undergone a staff shakeup “and they were more or less under orders to find new writers. It was just an amazing coincidence of luck and timing that led them to give me one small assignment.”

White’s work with National Geographic Traveler led to assignments for the book division of National Geographic. It has been his primary employer for more than 20 years.

White’s freelance career has ensconced him in the middle class, he said. “There have been some years when I’ve made a lot of money and there have been some years when I’ve made very little money. That’s just the way it goes. But I’ve always had enough of a cushion in the bank that I could coast through the slow years.”

White pays for his health insurance and contributes to a retirement plan. He has an accountant who provides occasional advice. As for the ups and downs of the freelance life: “To me it’s been worth it because of all the incredible things I’ve gotten to do over the years.”

So You Want to Freelance
These five freelance writers have carved out careers in different ways, but following are some tips culled from their experience:

  • A business plan can help focus goals.
  • Be available.
  • Meet the deadlines.
  • Consider carving out a coverage niche.
  • Think of every assignment as a step to the next one.
  • Be reliable. Everyone agrees on this. And it’s part of meeting deadlines. If an assignment isn’t working as planned, let the client know as soon as possible.



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