How many query letters and articles do you have circulating? If your answer is 13, then you’re probably already a successful freelance writer. If you’re sure what that means or how to sell your articles because you don’t have any query letters circulating, then you’ve come to the right place!
Here’s what “keep your magazine articles circulating” means: “C. Hope Clark has a great rule of thumb to keep her submissions in the hands of editors and not on her hard drive,” writes Christina Katz in Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids. “She keeps thirteen submissions circulating at any one time….Most successful writers use a similar strategy whereby they immediately resubmit rejected manuscripts somewhere else in order to keep finished writing ‘in play.’“
C. Hope Clark is the author of The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success – it’s perfect for new and professional freelance writers who want to keep their articles circulating, but aren’t good at selling themselves. The most important thing to remember about working as a freelance writer is that you have to treat writing like a business. You may love to write – and you may reveal your heart and soul in your articles and blog posts and book chapters – but you have to remember that a freelance writing career is a business.
But all businesspeople could use a tip or two, couldn’t they?
6 Success Tips From Freelance Magazine Writers
These six “how to sell your articles” tips are from a variety of professional writers. Combine, they’ve been working the in the freelance writing field for over 20 years – so they know what works, what doesn’t work, and what sometimes-but-not-always works.
1. Build your freelance writing brand
“I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk (internet and wine celeb) talk about how to build a brand online. Ultimately, he boiled it down to one key element: hustle. “Hustle your face off,” he said. And that stuck with me into my writing. When writing, especially online for a blog, it’s easy to push off creating content. A blog post can always wait until tomorrow…or the weekend…or next week. The same goes for a book manuscript gathering dust in a desk drawer. One of the toughest battles a writer faces is sitting down and writing, no excuses. If you want to become a better writer, and if you want to gain recognition, you have to hustle every day and churn out content like it’s your job.” – Matthew Apsokardu.
2. Use odd numbers
“Early on I learned to always write in odd numbers of points — 1, 3, 5 or 7. If there are 9, combine them into 3. Why? Because people can remember an odd number of points much easier than an even number of points. I’ve used this principle for articles, essays, white papers, ebooks and books. It always works and gives a comfortable structure to a piece.” – Nancy Kirk, author, speaker, public relations consultant.
3. Start with the problem in the title of your article
“Make sure your headline interrupts people and speaks to their needs, not yours. Make a promise – engage them with a compelling, results-focused solution to their problem. Provide the proof – educate people on how you solve their problem, preferably with third-party testimonials. Offer a no-risk call to action – give them a simple step to take to move further along in the sales process.” – Bill Merrow, copywriter.
Of course, titles are one of the most important tips for writing articles that editors will buy and publish! If titles aren’t your strong point, read Grab Your Reader by the Throat – Write a Strong Introduction.
4. Find your niche
“The best way to make money writing is to promote yourself as an expert in some area. Use your background to define yourself – if you were a nurse, use that to get health assignments. If you don’t have a background, develop a specialty. Start with a blog or providing free content to web sites to make a name for yourself in one area. Create a new focus within a subject area that will help define who you are. Write articles about this subject and try to sell a book. Soon you will become known as an expert in this area and people will not only give you work, but they will seek you out as a voice of experience on this topic.” – Brette Sember, author and teacher.
Not only does a niche increase your chances of selling articles to editors, it helps you write articles faster and better.
5. Don’t send a complete article to editors
“It’s generally a bad idea to send a complete article to a magazine editor along with your query (I’m referring to non-fiction articles rather than essays, poetry or short stories). The reason is, every magazine has its own space requirements and tone, and editors generally like to be able to steer the story in those direction. If you send them a completed piece, chances are it won’t fit these criteria, and it’s easy for them to say no.” – Darrell Laurant.
6. Build a strong writers’ network
“My best freelance writing tip is to go to writers’ conferences, go to writing events, get “juiced” about your topic, get out in the world and mingle with others who are faced with the same challenges. Meet and connect with people who can offer you inspiration (and vice verse) when you need it.” – Penny C. Sansevieri, writers’ coach.
For more tips on writing articles that editors will buy, read Can You Make Money as a Freelance Writer? 7 Signs Writing is the Career for You.