© Cheryl Wright 2003 – All rights reserved
From the day I decided to freelance, I knew that a column was the best option for me, that I would thrive on having a goal each month; I am the Queen of Goals. No kidding!
I’ve never been one for making New Year’s Resolutions. Nope, resolutions are made to be broken. But goals? That’s another thing altogether.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve set goals for myself; never huge ones, but always do-able goals. For instance, in February 2003 I set a goal to be writing a regular (preferably monthly) column or article by the end of 2004. By mid-May 2003, I had secured a monthly travel column.
I love writing humour, so that was my next goal – to get a regular outlet for short humour articles. I set about finding a suitable place to vent my funny bones. In a matter of weeks, I had a bi-monthly humour column.
Okay, I hear you - it’s not as easy as it sounds. Or is it?
In both cases, I found a publication that interested me, and wrote to the editor. Unsolicited.
Many zeons ago I thought you had to wait for the publication to be calling for submissions. Not so. Find a publication you would like to write for, do your research (who is their target readership, what is their theme, etc), then contact the editor. Tell her about your previous publications (if you don’t have any clips, don’t worry – just don’t tell them!) and why you want to write for them.
Hmmm. Perhaps I should word that better. "Hey, I’d love a regular income!" would not thrill an editor. You need to show what you can do for her.
In the case of my travel articles, I approached the editor by email. I’m talking US - regional publication. Their target readers are in the local area; they highlight local places of interest such as restaurants, run gardening features, discuss local history, highlight local art and cultural events, and the list goes on. All local information.
So what could an Australian writer living in Australia do for this publication?
I offered to write about places of interest in Australia that could not be found in a travel brochure; places the locals are more likely to go to, but overseas visitors would probably never hear about.
I made it clear in my query that this was not to be a one-off. I wrote: "I propose a regular, monthly article" – and that’s exactly what I got.
And the best thing about this particular gig is that I get to go to some of the best places in Australia that loads of other people will never see. I do heaps of research on each place, I take gazillions of photos (digital cameras are fantastic!) and take loads of notes as well as using my digital voice recorder wherever possible.
And that adds up to reslant, rewrite, resell, more money!
Because I’ve already done the research, I can now rewrite my articles using another slant, different photos, perhaps even changed quotes, and sell my articles to a whole new publication, or two, or three, or even more; I don’t, and won’t, have to research all over again.
Next time you read a magazine or newspaper, think "what can I do for this publication?" - you might just find yourself a regular income.
About the author: Cheryl Wright is an Australian author and freelance journalist. In addition to an array of other projects, she writes a monthly travel column for a magazine in the US and is the author of "Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories". (Available from: www.writer2writer.com/book.htm) Her debut novel "Saving Emma" will be released January 2005. Visit Cheryl’s website www.cheryl-wright.com