Part 2 of 4
Last week, we discussed three major benefits of freelance writing. We're hoping you have mustered up the courage to begin this journey. Let's discuss how to get started. As with most things, the first step to freelance writing is research and introspection.
Below are five questions to guide you in your research and introspection process:
What are your interests?
A great starting point is to find out what you like to write about. What draws you to these topics? Narrow down your interests a bit. What aspects of these topics in particular interest you? Let’s say, for example, that you are generally interested in writing about healthy living. How would you narrow this down even further? In other words, think not only of your interests, but a niche within those interests.
What digital or print magazines explore these interests?
What magazines or websites do you read or can find through research posts articles that align with your interests? Taking the time to study an organization's branding and voice ensures that you submit your work to the appropriate places and increases your chances of being considered and accepted.
For instance, a site that focuses on business and finance, most likely won’t be interested in a piece on healthy eating. However, if you've studied an organization's branding well, you can find ways to align your interests with theirs. A magazine like the one above may not be interested in healthy eating, but they may be interested in a successful business that focuses on healthy foods. This framing would provide you with a unique angle when pitching your idea.
How to make your interests unique?
As a continuation from the two previous points, contemplate how your idea would compliment, add to, and uniquely stand out from the other works published by the magazines that you would like to send pitches. Learning how to think about and frame your work in the interest of the magazine will be vital later on when pitching your ideas.
What is your writing style?
If you don’t yet know your writing style, don’t panic. This is something that develops with time. If a certain magazine or website interests you, simply imitate the common formats they have used. Overtime, you will develop your own sense of likes and dislikes with your writing and come into your own voice.
If you do know your writing style, make sure to find print or digital magazines that use that same style, or practice restructuring your work to fit their preferred format.
Are they open to new writers?
When pitching your article or idea to editors, freelance writers always include what are called “clips.” This is a collection of their work that the editor can view to determine their fit for the magazine, as well as their qualifications.
If you are new to freelance writing, you may not have such a collection. This is not a discouragement or set back. It just means that the process is a bit different. For example, if you have the degree or professional qualifications to match, this can work in your favor.
In the same way, if you are a creative person in other ways (maybe you make videos covering the same topic), you could also send these to the editor. Just be sure to explain why you sent this medium and why you feel that writing is more suited to the idea you are seeking to explore now.
You can also take time to create a blog that houses your works and gain exposure. This allows you to further explore topics that interest you, as well as various writing styles that will allow you to be flexible with the demands of established magazines and websites.
You should now feel pumped and familiar with the process to begin freelance writing. Next week, we will discuss tips on how to craft a winner pitch.