An Interview: Freelance Writing with Eric Hammer


I wanted an interview about freelance writing from someone who was making money at it and was also a good writer. Naturally I looked at those who had written for my websites before. That's when I realized that Eric Hammer was the best writer I had used.

Eric began his writing career when he was twelve years old and decided to try sending out a manuscript for a short story to a publisher. He was turned down and, while he continued to enjoy writing as a hobby, he moved on to other pursuits. It was not until he was in his early 30s that Eric finally saw success, selling his first short story to an anthology about real estate deals gone bad that he began to once again actively pursue a career as a writer.

It wasn’t long before Eric was sending out work to other publishers and actively soliciting work as a work as a writer, though it would be a few more years before he would start writing internet content and make this his full time career.

What did you do before you started freelance writing?

I actually held lots of different jobs, including such varied positions as a sales clerk, paralegal, surveyor’s assistant, community rabbi and English teacher, to name just a few, though I had been an English teacher in my most recent job before taking the plunge and going into writing on a full time basis.

Do you make a living with your writing, or is it just extra income?

The majority of people who write professionally don’t earn a living from their writing. In my case, I do, but most of my income doesn’t come from the writing I really want to be doing, which is fictional writing. Instead, it comes from professional writing, for Internet web sites, newspapers magazines and other venues.

Where do you find most of your work?

There are a variety of different options available for aspiring writers looking for work. Personally, I’ve done well on Elance. However, I also do a lot of work for content sites such as Demand Studios and Bright Hub. I am also branching out and trying to do more freelance writing for magazines and newspapers.

Have you made money from your writing while traveling or living in other countries?

This actually leads to an interesting story. As I mentioned, I had been an English teacher for a number of years before I started writing full time for a living. Unfortunately, my decision to do so wasn’t entirely my own. In 2008, I realized a lifelong dream and immigrated to Israel. I had spent a number of years here previously so I knew the country and the language, but now I was finally a citizen and was going to live and work here full time.

I had intended to continue teaching English as I had done for a number of years back in the States and found a part time job teaching in a junior high school in Petah Tikvah, a suburb of Tel Aviv. I applied to the Israeli Ministry of Education to get my American bachelor’s degree recognized, a process I was assured would take no more than a month and which was just supposed to be a formality.

A year and six round trips to Jerusalem (around a 2.5 hour trip by bus in each direction) went by with me bringing ever more documentation to the Ministry and going for additional meetings. In the end, my degree was not recognized, in spite of documentation that seemed to indicate it should be. The details are somewhat complicated, however in short, I completed my degree at Excelsior College, a distance learning school accredited by the Middle States Association and the New York State Board of Regents (the same organizations that accredit Columbia University, New York University, Cornell University, etc.). The fact that my degree was from a distance learning school meant that the Ministry people put up one hurdle after another and kept changing their minds about why they didn’t want to recognize my degree.

Finally, I was forced to accept the fact that if I wanted to stay here, I was not going to continue teaching so I decided to expand my writing to a full time occupation and now work from home and write for a living exclusively.

You are paid to write articles and pages for websites, but what other writing jobs have you had, and what’s the most fun or unusual request you’ve had?

Well, there are literally dozens of different types of writing projects out there and I’ve at one point or another done most of them. Journalistic writing, technical writing, grant writing, marketing writing and blog writing come to mind as a few examples.

However, I’d say the most fun I had by far was when I was asked by one of my regular clients, a web site called Travelujah whom I usually blog for, to work as a reporter covering a story – it was an annual event at the Jordan river which celebrates the place where Jesus is believed to have been baptized.

I think I loved it because I was fulfilling a childhood dream – I’d always wanted to be a reporter, but my parents talked me out of it saying that it was hard to get work in that field. However, going out there, actually talking to people, taking notes and pictures and then crafting a story from scratch, was to me one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had as a writer.

Which type of writing job is the most frequent?

I’d say that it’s a toss up between blog posts and content writing. The two are fairly similar except for the fact that blogs are usually less formally written and are often shorter.

What advice can you offer to people who want to make money with freelance writing?

Don’t sell yourself short. There are a lot of predators out there who will try to get you to work for them for free or for pennies per article. Hold out for what you think is a fair price. The other thing I would suggest is to constantly practice and hone your craft. The more time you spend writing (and reading) good content, the better you’ll get and the more money you’ll be able to command.

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Every Way to Make Money | An Interview About Freelance Writing with Eric Hammer