(This post is written by Krista. I’m taking a break this week to prepare for my upcoming talk in April. Will post more details on the talk soon and how you can participate.)
Although I have been writing for many years now, I did not actively seek writing opportunities with magazines or newspapers because I run my own business and time is often lacking. But writing is a hobby and most times, my takes on life is published in my blog.
I enjoy travel and food so once in a while I will take some of my blog posts and turn them into full length articles. Sometimes I submit these articles for free reprints to article directories. (I did major in Journalism though so I believe writing keeps my journo muscles lean and mean.)
Imagine my surprise when I was one day contacted by the travel editor of an Australian newspaper who wanted to reproduce my article. I wrote a few articles in 2004 on travelling and dining in Sarawak and the editor had picked one of those to reprint.
A couple of articles later, I can safely say that being found online in an article directory among thousands of good writers is truly a stroke of good luck. The Australian newspaper continues publishing my travel articles and their payment is always prompt. The pocket money comes in handy for shopping! Joke aside, it’s not the money really; it’s the thought of being published and seeing one’s byline in print. The idea of being published and read is worth far more than the payment. Don’t believe me? Go and ask any writer.
Writing for this newspaper also means I earn foreign currency which isn’t a bad idea at all. And I get my own byline too.
Since I have learnt a bit about how this freelancing business works, I hope to share with you some ideas particularly if you want start earning foreign currency.
1. Start a blog
You don’t know how useful a blog is! I have turned many a blog post into full articles. A blog helps keep me in the writing mode, as one has to be regular with blogging. If you don’t know how to start a blog (and many are free), read this how-to article.
Once you have a blog, pick a few interesting posts and morph them into articles. They don’t have to be long articles. Anything within the vicinity of 500 and 800 words will do. Give them snazzy titles. If it is a factual piece, get up to date with your facts by checking them.
3. Submit them
Now you can submit these articles to article directories. Don’t know where to find article directories? Well, start with Googling for them. Try EzineArticles.com – I submit my articles to them all the time. Don’t forget to attach an attractive bio and a good link back to your blog (in case editors want to contact you!).
4. Subscribe to newsletters on freelance writing
There’s lots of quality ezines on the Internet dealing with freelance writing and freelance opportunities. Take some time to google them and sign up. Not only do I get lots of tips and tricks from these ezines, they’re often full of writing opportunities too (make sure they’re quality ezines such as Moira Allen’s Writing-World.com).
5. Know which websites to visit
It also helps if you can find the right websites with the right forums or leads on writing jobs. Here are 10 freelance job resources which will keep you busy for some time!
6. Stay upbeat
As a writer, you must be proactive and upbeat. Editors may not always want your articles. So don’t beg or rant. Be polite even if you’re rejected. Just because they don’t need your articles right now, it doesn’t mean they won’t like hearing from you in 3 or 6 months. If they say no, it’s OK. Try again. It’s not the end of the world.
7. Say hello sometimes
Periodically contact the editor who did print your article. If he/she used your article once, you bet they will be more open and willing to look at your upcoming work. Contact means saying hello. It does not give you permission to bug them!
8. Send ideas
Also, be smart enough to help. This means suggesting ideas if an editor shows interest in your work. I’m sure you know editors are busy folks and they will appreciate it if you are mature enough to suggest a few ideas their way. Don’t wait for them to throw titles into your lap. That might happen but it won’t reflect too well on you. As a freelance writer, you want to be seen as a dynamic, independent and proactive contributor who makes their lives easy and someone they can turn to for emergency filler articles.
9. Every experience is a story
Whenever you are out and about, use it as an opportunity to ‘frame’ an article in your mind. For instance, I could be in Sarawak, spending time with my husband’s family but I have my feelers up. Challenge yourself and see how many ‘stories’ you can come up with during an outing or a trip. What angles can you use? What publications might need the articles? Travel mags? Health mags? IT mags?
10. Camera, action!
Editors love it when writers can submit photos with their articles so I always bring along a camera and take snaps of interesting places and people. The story/article might come later, as I sift through my stack of digital photos but when it does, I have the right photos to go with it! And the editor will probably raise the payment too if you submit with photos. At least you have some bargaining power because you have that “extra” to go with your article.
11. Mind those P’s
Finally, be a writer of good manners. Email your thanks or send a card when your article is published or when you get your payment in the mail. Editors deal with lots of contributors but the one that stands out is the one who took the time and effort to mail a thank you card. Courtesy, as they say, is always welcome.