Is it better to participate in content writing or write for magazine publication? The above question is actually multifaceted and can help you determine the overall thrust of your freelance writing career. It has been estimated that a writer will need to write a million words before a publisher is likely to accept their first work. That means a lot of rejection slips.
So, does that imply that content writing is preferred to the crafting of a book or magazine article? Well not exactly. Content writing is a means of addressing a short-term need. If the immediate need is cash, then content writing might provide the answer. However, if you are looking for a means of affecting long-term royalty payments or a greater flexibility in the ownership of your material you may look at other publishing options.
When you agree to write content for a client you are essentially providing a service for hire. Once you release the article or story to the client and they reciprocate with a payment you have no further interest in the article. You can’t use it again and you will gain no further payment for its ongoing use.
When you write a story for potential use in a book anthology, or a full manuscript for publication, you may have a variety of rights to consider. If you are the author of a story, you can negotiate with a publisher for the rights you are willing to provide. You could provide First North American Rights, which would allow you to resell the story in the future as a second right, but you would also have the capability of selling first rights to someone else on an international basis. NNon-exclusive rights allow you to continue selling the material with the same rights to as many publishers as are interested.
As we venture back to the original question it is important to understand that freelanced writing can and should be a balanced approach to writing. If it takes you a million words before you find publishing success why not make some of those words available to a paying content market to provide some skills-based writing while you work on other projects that are more personal and may have the potential to provide long-term residual payments.
A writer should always find time to write about the things they are passionate about, however the service of content writing provides a means of gaining some writing income while learning new skills and writing techniques while you are waiting for a publisher’s acceptance letter.