Today's post was spurred by a question from a brand-new freelancer. He asked what one piece of advice I would offer to new freelancers.
Pitch a market you know.
When you're a new freelancer, you don't have clips or connections yet. What may set your query apart--and lead to your first assignment--is your knowledge of the publication you want to write for. First, pitch an idea that will fit with that market. Make sure that it's the type of story the publication would run--and that it hasn't been covered in the last few issues.
Then, showcase that knowledge in your pitch by saying something like, "Interested in this for your 'Breaking News' department?" Or, "I enjoyed your recent piece on ways to cook with beets, injuries, and plan to take a similar approach with my piece on rutabagas."
You're letting the editor know you've studied her market--and editors love that. That's how I got my foot in the door as a newbie freelancer--and it will work for you, too.
**If you're brand-new to freelancing, I recommend Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets. It walks you through 10 actual articles for different markets; how I pitched, researched, and wrote them; and includes advice on contracts and building your business from scratch. Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition is a freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line. And my newest book, Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, shows writers how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field.