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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Double-Dip Technique #4, Take Two: Write More than One Related Article at a Time

Last post I talked about one of my double-dipping techniques—pitching more than one similar article at a time to different (and non-competing) markets. Which leads to a logical question: What happens when two or more stories are assigned at the same time?

This isn’t as much of a problem as it might appear at first glance. As you learned in my earlier post, because I pitched to noncompeting markets, the audiences for my articles—the readers of those magazines—are quite different. Chicago Parent is aimed, not surprisingly, at Chicago-area moms and dads of children. Complete Woman’s readers are women in their 20s to mid-40s who are looking for articles about love, sex, health, beauty, diet, fitness, career, and finances.

So I wrote two completely different articles about social media. One described what parents need to know about social media, focusing on how Chicago-area parents are using it to socialize, keep up on children’s health issues, and create a new online neighborhood of sorts. It included a sidebar about whether you should “Friend” your teen on Facebook.

The piece for Complete Woman focused on the dos and don’ts of using social media as a dating tool, exploring issues like what a man’s online profile may reveal about him. My sidebar focused a woman who had connected with a former classmate through social media—and married him! (Readers love happy endings.)

Get the idea? The very heart of the idea-harnessing social media—was the same. But the angles, the sources, the approaches, and the overall articles were very different. Yet because I knew the difference between Facebook and Myspace and could define a Tweet by researching the first article, the second look little time to write.

So, to double-dip this way without writing the same story twice, use this five-step process:

1. Consider the markets you're writing for (and their audiences) and create a slant specifically for each.
2. Use different expert sources whenever possible. (If you must reuse a source, get fresh quotes that are relevant to the specific story angle.)
3. Use a different structure for each story.
4. Find new “real people” to include as anecdotes.
5. Write different sidebars that complement each story.

That’s it! These five steps will let you write about the same subject more than once—without writing the same thing twice--or upsetting an editor.

Readers, weigh in. What do you think of this double-dipping technique? Do you use it already? Will you use it in the future? My inquiring mind wants to know!


  1. I do this sometimes but I've been having a lot of anxiety about it lately. *I* think my ideas are different enough, but sometimes I write about a niche topic for several pubs at once and that makes me worry.

    Same goes for essay pieces. I have a very specific subject that I tackle well in first-person essays and while it's an extremely rare topic, I'm hesitant to sell it frequently because it's something only I and maybe a few other women will ever write about. I'm afraid it'll be obvious to any editor who does her homework that I'm the same person peddling the same idea over and over again. I know tons of successful writers who do this, so why am I the one having anxiety when pushing this topic to a national magazine editor could be great for me? Gah!

  2. I haven't done this yet because I didn't fully understand "how" to do it. But I appreciate the way you've broken it all down and explained it, Kelly. I believe I just may give it a whirl. Thanks once again. I really love your blog!