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Monday, July 30, 2012

Market the Right Way: Six Types of Markets and How to Approach Them

I'm baaaaack! It was great to have a month's blogging break, and I've got great ideas for what I'll be covering the rest of the year. I'll be blogging about marketing; managing your freelance business;  building relationships with editors, clients, sources, and other people; working more efficiently; and creating (at least occasional) balance in your life as a freelancer. 

I chose these five broad areas for a reason--they're also the five areas I cover in Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success. Thanks to all of you who have bought the book and emailed me, especially those who have posted reviews on Amazon! I truly appreciate it. 

Market Like a Pro

I write a lot about marketing and for a good reason. If you can't sell yourself, you'll fail as a freelancer. So make sure you match your pitch to the market type (Secret 6 from Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success):  

The type of pitch you use will depend on the market. For national consumer magazines and newspapers, I suggest new freelancers pitch the FOB section with a query to get your foot in the door. Make that query as compelling as you can. You’re facing more competition here than with any other market, so make sure you have a strong ISG and that your query captures the magazine’s voice. Suggest the section of the magazine your piece belongs in so the editor knows you’re familiar with her publication, and plan on following up with another idea if you’re first one doesn’t get assigned. 

If you're targeting a regional or local magazine or newspaper, pitch a trend story, a profile of a local person (or a roundup, e.g., four local celebs or five up-and-coming chefs), or find a local perspective on a national trend for a regional parenting magazine (e.g., how area families are cutting back on expenses and saving money).

For online markets, query but remember that the articles tend to be shorter than print publications and often include an interactive element, like an online quiz for readers. Make your query tight and focused, and match the tone of your target publication with your e-mailed pitch.

If you want to pitch a blog, check its guidelines to see what type of approach its editor/owner prefers. Some people want you to submit the entire blog post; others like you to query a possible post topic the same way you would with an online magazine.

To pitch a trade market, use a query or LOI. Use industry lingo to show you know the business, and pitch an idea that will benefit readers. Whether you use an LOI or a query, play up your knowledge of/experience with the relevant industry. (To locate trades, check your local library for a directory like Bacon's Magazine Directory, Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media, or The Standard Periodical Directory. 

To pitch custom magazines, send an LOI that highlights your experience with the subject(s) the magazine covers, or pitch with a query. Ask your friends and family to collect custom magazines for you, and check out the Custom Content Council's website for possible markets. 

Different types of markets require different approaches. Matching your pitch to the market will ensure higher success rates. (For more about these types of markets and how to work for them, read Secret 6: Match your pitch to the market type from Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success): 

And don't forget about my recent line of ebooks aimed at new freelancers; I'm keeping them priced at $2.99 for a limited time. 


  1. Kelly,
    I'm reading your "Ready, Aim, Specialize!" book right now. It is exactly what I need right now. I have a question about reprints for regional magazines.

    When you pitch areas other than your own, do you offer to refresh your sources and anecdotes for their area? And it seems many of the guidelines say they only want local writers. How do you address that?

    Thanks Kelly. I appreciate how you share your experiences.

  2. Hey, Carrie Anne! You're right in that many local markets want local writers, but some don't care. I don't offer to refresh/add new material to reprints for regional markets (mostly because the rates are so low and it's not worth my while) but I do delete the city/state identifiers, for example. In some cases, if the market is interested, I will add a quote from a local source but honestly that's rare. I have about a dozen regional reprint markets that have bought from me without requiring the "local angle."

    HOWEVER. If you're starting out, do I think that's a good idea and a way to get more reprint markets? You bet. So it depends on where you're at, freelance-wise, IMO.

    Hope this helps and I hope you enjoy RAS! One of my fave parts of that book is the chapter on first queries. :)

  3. Thanks Kelly. I really related to your first chapter in RAS. After a year of spewing shotgun queries, I burned out, felt discouraged and had bits of success including a national cover story and a regular trade gig, but not enough regular work to call my efforts successful. It's time to dial in a rifle. I've got lots of local clips from a now defunct women's mag. Hopefully I can find new homes for them.

    Going through your interest survey helped me identify my wheelhouse(s) and provided me with a long list of topics I would be motivated to write about. One of the areas I really love is parenting teens and young adults--seems there aren't so many markets for that, which I find surprising. Regionals seem more likely to have a teens/tweens section.

    Thanks again!

  4. My pleasure and glad you're finding it helpful. :) I agree about the lack of coverage of parenting teen issues...not sure why more national mags don't cover that. Good luck and keep me posted! :)