“Independent writers” is a phrase easily mistaken for a redundancy. After all, writers by their nature value independent thinking and they treasure their independence. Virginia Wolff wasn’t the first or the last author to want a room of one’s own.
In the era of smartphones and online media, freelance writers abound – though few manage to make anything but a barebones living. According to a 2014 survey by CopyPress, a content marketing firm, only 13% of writers reported they earned more than $30,000 annually, and nearly half said they made less than $10,000. Writers like Randy Dotinga, though, are able to survive and thrive on freelancing income by adopting work habits that leverage their talents and maximize their happiness.
“The key is to really be educated about what you need to do to survive,” Dotinga tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “It’s important to understand the trends in journalism and the trends in freelancing. You [may need] to have a kind of flexibility that lets you write for a trade journal about glass manufacturing one day and the next day write a movie review or do custom content for a company or do a newspaper story.”
A former newspaper reporter, San Diego-based Randy Dotinga has been a full-time freelance journalist since 1999. He specializes in writing about medicine/health (WebMD, Newsday, Kaiser Health News, etc.); politics and government (Voice of San Diego); as well as the odd and unusual. In addition, Dotinga is president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, which holds its annual conference in New York City later this spring.