Freelance writing is known for being a tough industry to break into. However, with some hard work and determination, you can find success in this field.
The online market is booming for freelancers. Website owners need content! They know that the more fresh, quality content they have, the more visitors they will receive. Online markets will not pay as well or carry the same clout as a glossy, full-color magazine, but they are a great way to get your feet wet. Plus, given the fact that the cyber world moves a lot faster than the traditional printing world, your articles will be published sooner. As you know, the more pieces you have published, the easier it will be to land bigger jobs in the future.
Don’t forget to target your local newspaper when looking for freelance writing jobs. Newspapers have strict deadlines, and can certainly use freelancers (often called ‘stringer reporters’). Writing for a newspaper can be hectic; as mentioned before, they do have strict deadlines, and you may get an assignment on a moment’s notice. However, if you do a good job and complete your work on time, the editor at your local paper could open the doors to bigger newspapers and magazines.
While you may only be able to name a few magazines, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of small, regional, and trade magazines being published today. A great tool for writers is www.writersmarket.com. It is a database full of information on markets that buy freelance work (“market” is a general term for a magazine or newspaper). The editors at smaller magazines are oftentimes more open to working with people that have little experience.
Contacting a market and offering to write for them is often called a “query”. Each market will have different guidelines they use to accept queries; for instance, some may accept queries via email whereas some will want them by snail mail. Always use the proper name of the person you are sending the query to. You can find this information on the company’s website or through www.writersmarket.com. It is also important to know the market you want to write for. For example, if you want to write an article containing tips for traveling with pets for XYZ Magazine, make sure that magazine hasn’t published a similar article in the last year.
Once you have written several pieces for smaller markets, you can take the leap into writing for larger, more well-known magazines and newspapers. However, you might find you enjoy and prefer working with smaller markets.