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How I Began Freelance Writing at 15 (+ How You Can Get Started)

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For as long as I can remember, I have been a writer. When I was a little kid, I used to carry a notebook with me everywhere I went, in my constant attempt to be a hybrid of Harriet the Spy and Amelia of Amelia’s Notebook. I wrote stories, journal entries, reviews of Spongebob episodes- basically anything you can think of, in those little old school composition books.

As I got older, I gained another hobby – roller derby. I joined a junior league when I was 15, and ended up skating for over two and a half years. During that time, I found out that there were entire magazines about the sport, which I ended up devouring.

At 15, it seemed like I instinctively knew how to pitch to editors. I read each issue of Blood and Thunder cover-to-cover, and noticed that they were missing something- content about junior roller derby.

How convenient, I just happened to be a part of junior roller derby.

My First Pitch

This is when I sent my very first pitch. I told the editor that I was a young writer, who was interested in contributing to the roller derby conversation. I had something to offer, a perspective that no other writer had for this magazine- I was a kid.

That’s how I got my first accepted pitch for a magazine. So far, one-for-one.

My article ended up becoming a five-page cover story, with a picture of my face gracing the cover of Blood and Thunder. This was it, my very first published article.

The magazine I wrote for usually showed up at derby bouts (aka games), so when this issue came out, they let me sit at the booths and sign copies of my magazine for fans. It was pretty surreal.

By this time, I was writing frequently for my high school’s newspaper. As I made my way into college, I figured it was time to flex my freelance muscles again.

Continue to Pitch Based on Their Needs

Once again, I pitched based on a need from the magazine. I was a hardcore fan of Rue Morgue, a magazine that focused on horror movies. I read every issue cover-to-cover as a kid, so when I realized they were open to pitches, I jumped on it.

Being a horror movie magazine, I figured I’d send a pitch about one of my favorite horror musicals- the infamous Carrie: The Musical. There were surprisingly no mentions of this musical anywhere in Rue Morgue, so once again I pitched, telling them what I brought to the table.

It got approved! Suddenly I had the opportunity to interview Carrie: The Musical’s original Carrie, Linzi Hateley, for their online publication. My little musical theatre fan mind was blown.

From then on, I wrote for Rue Morgue many times. My first time in their print magazine was equally incredible, having gotten to write about horror attractions in New York City for one of their October issues. Obviously, the October issue is a pretty big deal for a horror publication, so I was ecstatic.

Learn to Push Through Rejections

I wish I could say that the odds stayed one-for-one. As is the freelance writing world, I have gotten endless rejections from various websites and magazines. So it goes.

At the same time, I have gotten quite a few amazing opportunities as a result of my experience.

I interned with Funny or Die for a semester of college, and I currently write for George Takei’s news sites.

My Advice When Getting Started

My advice if you’re interested in taking on a career like this is to target the publications you read the most. You really want to be familiar with the tone and voice of the site.

From there, if they have an editors’ email, send them a pitch. Make sure to really convey that you are bringing something new to the table, something that the pub needs. Do this with as many sites as you can. And when you get them accepted, do it up.

How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs

There are numerous Facebook groups that post writing jobs. Check those out, and get notified of new writing jobs every day!

You can either search on Facebook by typing “Freelance Writing Jobs” on the “Groups” filter (and the “Jobs” filter). Or you can start with there Facebook groups to check out:

Search these websites to find freelance work:

Conclusion: Never Limit Yourself

Since I was a kid, I knew writing was in my blood. So the fact that now I get to do it as my main job is a total dream come true.

My only advice is to never limit yourself- you can start a new career or venture at any time in your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 55, as long as you have the passion and the drive to make something happen, it’s never too late.

Just do it.

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