Last week I told you how to decrease the odds of getting rejected by editors and agents. I’ve had lots of requests for similar information for freelancing writing, so here are some tips to increase the odds you earn that all important byline…and money!
Study and Research First
Always remember to study and research the publication you intend to target before you make your pitch.
I used to write first and then go looking for a market which leads to only one thing, a rejection.
If you don’t know the publication, like your best friend, then you’re not ready to submit anything to them.
Pick up back copies, look online, whatever research you have to do and figure out who their readership is, what sort of articles they actually publish, short info type pieces, in depth profiles of people and companies? Length of articles and even try and figure out the education level of the reader. Why? Some articles might be geared toward academics, others, people looking for a very casual read on their morning commute.
Is the publication a match with the idea you have in mind? Or after studying it, do you have a better idea or do you need to give this publication a miss all together?
Don’t Pitch Them Similar Ideas
Another reason you want to study back copies is to figure out if they’ve recently published an article on the topic you’re thinking about writing. If it’s been a year or more, you’re probably good to go, but anything less is going to earn you a sorry but we just did a piece on this.
Don’t Look Like You’re Not a Researcher
Say you were to pitch an idea they’ve just published. Not only have you wasted your time but the editor knows that you’re not familiar with their publication and probably not the ideal writer to work with. Let them know you know their magazine or newspaper, better than they do and you’ll get into their good books. It will also look like you’re one of their subscribers and yes, in the back of the editor’s mind they know, you’re one of many people who pay their wages.
Match Up Your Article to Their Magazine
Once you’ve done all the research, you’ll know what article to pitch and you’ll be able to go one step more by suggesting that your article will be a good fit in so and so.
For example, my article 50 Ways to Spend Less on Travel will be perfect for your Budget Traveler section. That way the editor, one, knows you know their magazine, two, you’ve thought about where it’s best suited for the magazine. And finally, three, saved them some time because they might be looking for articles to fill open slots in upcoming issues.
Lots of freelancers give up if they don’t hear back from an editor. I used the same approach to freelance writing as I did with public relations. While you never want to be a pest, there’s nothing wrong with being persistent. Give your pitch 4-6 weeks and then if you haven’t heard, simply follow up. Sometimes they haven’t read it yet and sometimes, they haven’t even received it and usually ask you to send it again. Never be afraid to give at least one follow up e-mail.
Read Those Guidelines
Lots of publications have writer’s guidelines telling you what they’re currently looking for, length of stories, columns or sections open to freelancers, how to contact them and sometimes a list of things they don’t want to see. Once again, by following their rules it shows you’ve done your research and more likely to be the type of writer they can work with.
You might be wondering how to check out publications. I spent lots of money buying magazines from my local Barnes and Noble and Borders, but now things are a lot cheaper and easier. I saw this site and for one subscription price you can get access to just about every magazine out there.