An Interview: Freelance Writing with Eric Hammer
By Steve Gillman
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 wasnt 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
I actually held lots of different jobs, including such varied
positions as a sales clerk, paralegal, surveyors 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 dont
earn a living from their writing. In my case, I do, but most
of my income doesnt 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
There are a variety of different options available for aspiring
writers looking for work. Personally, Ive 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 wasnt 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
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 bachelors 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 didnt 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 whats the most fun or unusual request youve
Well, there are literally dozens of different types of writing
projects out there and Ive 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
However, Id 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
Id 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 Ive ever
had as a writer.
Which type of writing job is the
Id say that its 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?
Dont 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 youll get and the more money youll
be able to command.