New To Freelance Writing?
Eight Crucial Points You Need To Know
By: Christopher Theberge
Figure out a topic
†††††††††††† The key here is to find a topic that is not too general.† For example, writing an article on proper nutrition is too broad.† Narrow down your topic to proper nutrition for athletes.† This may even be too broad.† Narrow it down further too, proper nutrition for teenage athletes. General topics often do not meet the needs for a specific magazine or website. For example, if you write for Parenting Magazine, readers will not find a general article on childhood development worthy of reading as much as an article on avoiding food jags. The key is presenting a specific topic that people donít already know a lot about.
Submitting a query
††††††††††† I know first hand about this because when I first started writing, I sent a query to hundreds of magazines and websites. Spending hours on end, I would simply copy and paste an email response while surfing the web. What I failed to do was really get to know the writing style and content about the publications I queried. If you neglect this, you are wasting your time and the person who has to respond to your email.
Donít be afraid to rework an article you have already written
††† ††††††† If you have previously written an article and are trying to submit it to a magazine you may think that you are one step ahead of everyone else, however this is rarely the case. Your best bet is to first submit a query as stated above. Donít think that you wasted time with already working on a writing piece; just understand that you may need to rework your topic. Reworking an article that you feel is already top quality may actually bring it to the next level.
Donít let money be your motivator
††††††††††† If you ask any writer that writes articles for high quality publications about how they got started, few of them will tell you that they began writing for $1.00 per word. There are thousands of magazines in press and top notch websites out there willing to pay large sums of money for articles. If you have limited writing experience however, what makes you think that you will receive an assignment over somebody who has 10 years of writing under their belt? The realization is that the writing industry is competitive. You cannot expect to start making ďbig dollarsĒ in the market if you are a newcomer. This does not mean that it never occurs, because it does, yet it doesnít happen very often. Instead, work on your portfolio by writing for non-paying magazines and websites. Once you have established a solid background in the freelance field you should then start querying to larger publications.
Also, just because a source pays well for articles does not necessarily mean that the publication is worth contributing too. Five hundred dollars for one article may sound good short-term, but in the long-run it could end up damaging your credibility. For example, letís say that a magazine called Anabolic is willing to pay $2.00 per word. I would hesitate to write for such a source because it does not look good on a professionalís resume.
Research the source you plan on writing for
††††††††††† Careless research may end up hurting your writing career. As the example stated above, be wary of the source that you contribute to. Always remember: your name will appear on the article, unless you are a ghostwriter.
Read Writerís Guidelines
††††††††††† † One easy way to get a bad reputation among editors is failure to follow a magazine or websiteís guidelines for writers. Make sure that you are qualified to write for the source. You would not find a car mechanic applying for a job as a Nutrition professor at a large university, unless they were qualified to fit that position. The same goes for writing.
Avoid excessive emailing
††††††††††† Email is a blessing because of its ease and rapid communication ability, however it can become burdensome when not used properly. If you do not receive an email back from a query within a week or two donít get discouraged. Sometimes it may take up to 6 months before you hear back. If you are highly interested in contributing to a particular source, I would recommend sending a short email just asking that they respond to acknowledge that they received your query.
Keep track of who you contact
††††††††††† Nothing is more embarrassing than not remembering a magazine you sent a query to. If you have to ask them what your topic was, it looks like you didnít really take the time to examine that source. You may end up insulting the publisher. Try creating an Excel sheet with dates, sources, topics, and email addresses. By doing this you will be able to quickly check back and see what you submitted.
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