To write this article, I randomly opened my Writer’s Market to pages 540-541. Just so you know, pages 429-748 of the book form the section “Consumer Magazines.” Within that section, there are nearly 50 subsections. I randomly opened to a page with these magazine titles, which are under the subsection “Hobby & Craft”:
-Rock & Gem
-Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot
Want to be a freelance writer? Start with what you know. Now, a seasoned writer will be able to write on just about anything, given enough time and access to knowledgeable people and resources. Perhaps that’s your goal. But do you love to sew? Do you hang out at the local sewing lounge or collect Butterick patterns from the 1950s? Maybe a great place to start for you is to write a piece on sewing. Sew News is 70% freelance written and works with a small number of new/unpublished writers each year. The monthly magazine covers fashion, gift and home-dec sewing. Nonfiction needs: How-to, sewing techniques, interview, sewing personalities in home-sewing field.
Frankly, I’ve barely mended a button in the last five years, so this would not be a good place for me to get started. It’s not my world. If it’s your world, then consider it. In fact, this whole page in the Writer’s Market would be a stretch for me, and not a good match for dipping my toes in the freelance world. But if you’re an enthusiast of any of the above, find a copy of the magazine (or request a sample copy – prices are also listed in the information) and consider what you could write about that they’re looking for.
Be clear about what you do and don’t know. Beyond the details and subject matter of the article, be certain you are up to the task of a freelance career before you embark on one. Don’t know how to write a query letter? (Don’t know what a query letter is?) Learn. There are a thousand and one resources on-line and at the library, so you don’t need to spend a penny to get started on a freelance career. However, you need to make sure you know what you’re doing before you send out a word. Research. Understand. Edit.
Especially as a beginner, it’s very important to make a good impression. Once you’ve established a relationship and rapport with an editor, you may find that deadlines are a little softer, and mailed queries aren’t necessary, but until that time (and to be clear, it may never come, even after you’ve written a hundred articles for him/her), you follow the directions, dot the i’s, and cross the t’s. Be sure you know what they want, and that you’re providing it. Read the publication, understand the guidelines, write well and be polite.
Sometimes (and it must be said) people who want to write for a living don’t know how to write very well. I’m sure none of them are you, but as far as writing goes, I’ll give a small lesson here:
-Remember the rules of grammar.
For magazine articles (and novels, for that matter), it helps to have a good hook. If you don’t know what that means, refer to the paragraph above – consider visiting google (try “good magazine article hook”) or your library (nearly any freelance how-to will cover this).
Be clear about what you can and can’t do.
Basically this boils down to clarifying opportunity and reality, and that can mean a lot of different things for different people. Writing is hard. It takes discipline and creativity and organization and…and…and…
To be a successful freelancer, you need to keep track of queries, deadlines, resources, facts, insights and light bulb moments. You need to let go of grudges, resentments, mistakes (retain the lesson, let go of any paralyzing negative emotions), fear of rejection, taking things personally in the professional arena and…and…and…
I know this makes it sound like you have to be superhuman, but it doesn’t really. What it means is you have to learn to be thick-skinned and professional. It also means you have to be clear-eyed about what you can take on – both professionally and emotionally – and what you can’t. If you work full-time and have kids, the time you have available for freelance work is obviously limited, so send queries appropriately. If you plan on replacing necessary income with a freelance career, don’t quit your day job until it’s a sure thing (which, by the way, may be never).
You know what you need and what you’re capable of. Listen to yourself, learn what you need to learn and never give up.[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://howtowriteshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/bobbiColumn.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Bobbi Dumas loves good writing. Of all kinds. She also loves romance, a mesmerizing story and the company of friends. When she’s not in the virtual world or one of her own making, she can usually be found in Madison, WI with her husband, two boys, and a clan of great writers she feels grateful and honored to know (some of whom you get to meet here, too). Lucky you![/author_info] [/author]