Big Ideas, Delivered With Impact

Experiment: Make The Freelance Writer’s Helper Open Source?

In Resources, Writing on May 26, 2009 at 9:37 pm

By Tim Beyers

A short time ago, I published a new edition of The Freelance Writer’s Helper via Twitter. If you have never before used the Helper, it’s a guide I created using Google’s now-stagnant Notebook tool to collect submissions guidelines and useful tips for new and veteran freelance writers.

Source: Sony Pictures

Source: Sony Pictures

The process has been educational. My queries are more focused and more effective because I’m more mindful of what editors want. How could I not be? They’re telling me all I need to know, right there in the submissions guidelines.

Adding more openness to an already open project

Twitter has been instrumental in the Helper’s development. Writers I’ve met there have contributed to the guide in various ways. You know most of them: Lydia Dishman (@LydiaBreakfast) is now my partner in Editorchat and a constant source of ideas. Susan Johnston (@UrbanMuseWriter) and Louise Julig (@ThoughtsHappen) have generously supplied links to submission guidelines that I didn’t know existed. Darrell Etherington (@drizzled) introduced me to freelance resources that have become destinations during my browsing time. For these tips and more, I’m grateful.

And they’ve made me realize something important: The Freelance Writer’s Helper never really was mine, it was an open source project that I initiated and have since curated.

But it could be more. It should be more. So, as of today, I’m opening the process further by inviting a few writers of my choosing to contribute their finds directly.

I’d also like to hear from you, dear reader. Want to be a contributor? Make your case in the comments box below.

A few words about payments

Like all open source projects — Wikipedia, Linux, etc. — you won’t get paid for contributing to The Freelance Writer’s Helper. But you will be paying forward what you know to the freelancers to follow, a must if we’re to save the publishing industry. (Grin.)

You might also get a tip. Below you’ll find a button for TipJoy, a service that allows for micropayments via Twitter. Readers who like your contributions to the Helper can leave a tip by tweeting something like this:

“Tip @NAME $X for adding Vanity Fair’s submission guidelines to The Freelance Writer’s Helper: LINK BACK TO THE GUIDE.”

The Freelance Writer’s Helper has been a blessing to me. Let it be a blessing to others. Contribute. You’ll feel good, and you might earn a little extra pocket money in the process.


  1. Great idea—will you keep using Google Notebook as the platform? Or perhaps Evernote? In any case, count me in!

  2. OK, I’m in. Not sure how frequent of a contributing I’ll be given the umpteen other volunteer projects I’m involved with (kids, they put a serious damper on the old career). Seriously, I’d love to.

  3. Thanks, Ron and Michelle. Who knows? Your r micropayments from TFWH may outstrip your Helium earnings. (Odometer spins more.) Details to come via email.

  4. Hey Tim, this looks fantastic! I’d love to help out. Definitely in.

  5. Okay the link is working now. I’m honored to be included in the list, and would be happy to contribute as able.

  6. […] on his site.  I’m listing him on my top 15, however, because I do actually read Tim’s smart, sometimes sassy and always innovative posts about experiments in social media. var addthis_pub […]

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