In 2008, I joined a freelance website called Associate Content. I created a bio for myself, and tried to contemplate the articles that I would write. I came up with very little, so I just wrote about me. It began by writing a personal account of a 3 week trek from Pennsylvania to California and back with my best friend from high school. I published it in a 3 part format, none of which has over 175 views.
In high school, I dreamed of nothing but attending Northwestern University for Journalism, and when I wasn’t accepted, I gave up on that dream. I was thrilled that I could write without having my degree in Journalism. At the time, I had been to three different colleges, and still had no degree. I made pennies writing freelance, but it was better than only dreaming about writing. I was doing it!

In mid 2008, when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I put freelance on the back burner and began blogging. This consistent routine of writing daily gave me the confidence to continue writing opportunities.
After Kevin died, I did my best to get back into a routine of writing articles, on top of blogging. Some of my articles focused on issues that were prevalent in my life such as grief and cancer. At the encouragement of another widow blogger, I wrote an article about my experience with healthcare, and how I viewed the impending healthcare reform. The article turned out to be a hit, and it won a 2009 Associated Content, Content of the Year Award and even came with a financial prize. The door was open, and I was validated in my writing. I was thrilled.
I took on marketing myself and created a Twitter account specifically to publish my content. Through this account, I came across a Tweet from the Pennsylvania Department of Tourism calling on freelance writers to take on a winter writing assignment. I inquired, and went on my first travel writing assignment to review cross country skiing in Tioga County, PA. That assignment allowed me to cover tourism assignments that took me on a Northeast Pennsylvania road trip, and an insider sports preview in Pittsburgh. I learned that I did not have to wait for the assignments to come to me, but I could go after them. I began contacting tourism departments across the country, and now have opportunities to visit anywhere I choose for a writing assignment, with lodging including.
Since exploring freelance opportunities on my own, I’ve been published in several magazines and newspapers, mostly featuring my articles on grief. I have now completed my degree in Business, and hope that it will only continue to give me a strong backbone on which to validate my writing.
As a freelancer, I make very little money. I could not survive on this income alone. I write for the passion of writing, to promote local businesses, raise awareness of grief and cancer, and to travel. For me, the secondary benefits are my payment. As I advance in my writing skills, I have been rewarded financially for those improvements, and I can only hope that those will continue. I would never want to put myself in the stressful position of trying to make a living specifically off of freelance writing, but I love being able to work on my own and choose my assignments. That has to be the best part of writing for oneself, versus for a paycheck.

B.L. Boitson is a freelance writer and blogger whose topics include travel, events, and businesses in central Pennsylvania, and also works full time at an architectural firm. Most recently, however, her writing has shifted in focus to the loss of her husband in October 2008 to a rare form of cancer. Widowed at just 24, Brenda is now an advocate for sarcoma cancer, and is working to change how society discusses grief and accepts those grieving at an early age. You can find her at the Crazy Widow Blog, through the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and on Facebook

B. L. Boitson