Tips for Earning Money Writing Globally: Part 1

Beth Fowler headshotWhen editors in other lands see your work, they ask, “Is this foreign writer professional?” And, “Does this foreigner’s work fit our publication?”

Read on to learn how to get a si, oui, ja and hai.

Multiply earning power: I sold one article to magazines in Australia, Malaysia and the United States. By offering rights to one country at a time (i.e. First Australian Rights), you can re-sell an article to different countries. Offering reprint rights multiplies the earning power of one article, too. The chances of, for instance, a reader in Scotland seeing the article reprinted in New Zealand is so remote that editors of (off line) national publications accept second or reprint rights.

Write their way: “Study our publication before submitting,” is excellent advice for global freelancers to follow before sending manuscripts over the border. Is it travelled or traveled, lift or elevator? Style preferences are in submission guidelines, but basics that citizen writers know aren’t.

Malaysia and Australia, two English-speaking countries use British spellings. The Philippines and Taiwan use American spellings in English-language publications. Find help with American and British spellings at

Manage metaphors: UN members published a document depicting an owl to symbolize wisdom. The image flopped because in Asia owls symbolize stupidity. Metaphors, similes, idioms, clichés, slang and jargon are gobbledygook when they have unintended connotations. Avoid them.

Cite specifics: In anticipation of a trip to England, a Bombay couple scanned a travel article in which a British author had characterized London in July as “red hot.” The Indians shivered for a fortnight because London temperatures never rose above 50 F (10º C).

Global freelancers replace relative words (hot, heavy, tiny, expensive) with specifics (32º C, five tons, one centimeter, HKD$200,000).

Write comparisons of relative scale that appeal to readers’ experience. For instance, because Indonesians play badminton more often than basketball, a Western journalist writing for a Jakarta newspaper described a building as ” . . . five times the length of a badminton court.”

Convert consistently: As an editor, I’ve received manuscripts with inconsistent measurement systems. Inches inched along with centimeters (and centimetres), Fahrenheit warmed up to Celsius, and miles traveled with kilometers. Global freelancers use the system the publication uses and are consistent within one document. On the other hand, international publications include two measurements, as in “A 20-mile (32-km) path follows the coast.”

Global writers specify which country’s dollars are quoted by inserting the country’s name as in “$5 million Hong Kong,” or “HKD$5 million,” or including a statement: “All prices in Hong Kong dollars.” Find currency and measurement converters at

Hold the humor: A Singaporean reading an American editorial remained stone-faced at the journalist’s supposedly humorous reference to Governor Christie’s weight. Who’s Governor Christie? What’s weight got to do with anything? Trans-cultural humor requires intimate knowledge of psychology, zeitgeist, politics, history and language. What’s so funny about a chicken crossing the road?

If an amusing anecdote is integral to developing a theme, recruit a local from the country whose ribs you hope to tickle to review the piece. Rewrite or delete accordingly.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of how to make money freelancing globally.


Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”


 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.





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