By: Editing Working Girl
Freelancing takes a lot of patience, and persistence. It also takes courage to face rejection. Most writers know that it is possible to turn writing into a career. The mistake comes from thinking it will happen overnight.
I am currently freelancing for two publications. I have probably sent my resume and pitched articles to 200 (alright, less than 200, but you get the idea). I have had success, but also have had some failures - all of which I have learned from. I hope what I have learned not only helps some of you who are currently looking for freelancing, but encourages others who have thought about it to give it a try.
1. Know not all of your queries will be answered. Some of them may not even be read. Good news is , the more times you send out your resume and pitch stories, the more possibility that someone will see it and give you an assignment. Also? Usually publications have multiple editors. Find the one who edits a section that your article would fit best in and get in touch with them. Researching the editorial structure can go a long way.
2. Check websites for submission guidelines. Magazines don't always have submission guidelines, but the ones that do have them there for a reason. Before you send in a pitch or article, make sure you have check and re-checked for the guidlines, and if there, read and re-read them. Doing things right the first time not only makes a good impression, it saves the editor time (which may get you another offer from the magazine in the future).
3. Read staff bios online. Not only do these staff bios give you a sense of who the editor is outside of the magazine, but it also may give you a lead. Check out where staff members have worked in the past and see if there are publications you may not have heard of before.
4. Find your niche and embrace it. Just as bloggers usually like to have a central focus for their blog, it is good to have that as an author, also. The more you are interested and involved with your topic outside of your writing, the more engaging your writing is likely to be. Topics can be as broad as food, fitness or fashion, for example or can be more specific, such as cycling or runway reviews. Whatever the case, sticking to a niche will help you build your portfolio and keep things consistent.
5. Network! Interested in writing for a certain publication? Get involved, even before you freelance! Magazines often have events such as luncheons or charity happy hours. Go and meet the staff - introduce yourself - and get to know other atendees. These "atendees" are probably fellow readers and will help you get a good sense of the audience you would reach at that publication. It can all also give you the upperhand while pitching stories as the editors can put a face your name on the pitch.
The rest is all trial and error. You will learn what works for you and what doesn't work for you personally, all relative to the city you live in, publications you are pitching to and niche you are writing for. Most importantly: don't give up! Remember that freelancing takes courage. The more you try and learn from it - the more tools you will have to succeed!
Do you have anything to add to the list? What have you all learned as writers/editors?