As always, getting started in any new career is best done by taking the advice of the experts. After all, you wouldn’t try to build a house without learning how to do it first would you? And freelance journalism is not different. However, if you feel you want to dive right in, read through the suggestions below and have fun.
What editors want
The most important points to remember when you are starting out as a freelance journalist are to write what editors want, how they want it. Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but you’d be surprised how many novice journalists believe they can write what they like, however they like, and have editors clamouring to publish it.
Unfortunately, freelance journalism does not work like that! So, first and foremost, you need to learn the rules.
Rule 1. Make sure you send it to the right publication
There is simply no point writing something before you’ve carried out thorough market research – you will be wasting your time. It is vital that you know what publications you are aiming your articles at because different publications:
• have different styles – some prefer the article to have lots of titles, short paragraphs and bullet points, allowing the reader to quickly skim the main points. Others require more academic styles with complex, detailed writing
• accept differing lengths of article – some accept articles that are 1000 words and above, others only accept shorter articles
• use different language – this depends on who the target audience of the publication is going to be. Obviously a magazine for the older generation will us entirely different language to one aimed at the teenage generation
Rule 2. Be current
Think about it. If you write an article about a general election but the election was two weeks ago, it is highly unlikely that any editor is going to accept it. So, stay up to date with recent national and world news topics, but don’t forget to keep an eye on your local news too. Find out where newsworthy events are happening and make sure you are there to cover them.
Rule 3. Send it in the correct format to the right person
First, and this is very important, get the editor’s name and use it when you send your work to them. This shows you are interested enough to find out who they are. Next, follow the submission guidelines to the letter. If you don’t it’s likely the editor will reject your article without even reading it. You can usually find this information in any good market book, such as the ‘Writers and Artist’s Yearbook’ and if you can’t, make sure you contact the magazine to request it.
Rule 4. Make sure it is proofread carefully
Once you’ve managed to get your work onto the editor’s desk, you don’t want to risk having it rejected because there are too many spelling and grammar errors to correct. Editors are too busy to correct your mistakes so all your hard work will be wasted if you fail to proofread your work properly. If you need to, get someone else to look at your work – a fresh pair of eyes can spot errors that even the most experienced writers miss.
Rule 5. Send photos with your words
Taking photos to go with your writing increases your chances of being published by one third. And, in some cases, the photos can actually earn you more than the writing itself!
Rule 6. Get it there on time
If an editor decides to take your article and gives you a deadline, you should make sure that you stick to it. Missing the deadline will mess up the editors’ schedule, making him/her really unhappy and probably resulting in them never taking work from you again.
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Source by Shelley C Bowers