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Breaking into a New Freelance Market

Breaking into a New Freelance Market
By Katherine Huether

You have a great idea for an article that you got on your family vacation. You're sure that this idea will make for a great travel article. The only problem is, you primarily write articles in the health and fitness market. Is getting this article published completely hopeless?

No, it isn't. Breaking into a new market can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. There are ways you can use your existing publishing credits, life experiences, and other knowledge to break in. Here are some tips to make your transition a little easier.

Write Locally

No matter the subject, you are an expert at where you live. Do you want to break into travel writing? Find some interesting destinations and pitch them to travel markets. Are you interested in business writing? Profile some local businesses. This technique can work for almost any subject. As an exercise spend five or ten minutes brainstorming a list of possible topics.

Use Your Expertise

Sometimes it helps to use your current expertise to help transition into the new subject. For example, if you write on the topics of health and fitness but want to write a travel piece, you can start by profiling spas and wellness hotels. Then you'll have some travel-themed clips to show editors.

I've had success with this technique. I am an herbalist and my first published articles had to do with this subject. Because of this, I landed two food-related assignments in some herbal magazines. Now I can show these clips to food magazines.

Life Experience

Break into a new subject by writing on subjects that you have expertise in. Do you want to be a fitness writer? Pitch an article centered around your personal experience. When listing your publication credits in the query letter, make sure to mention this experience with the topic you pitched.

This is great to try even if you are a complete beginner. When you don't have any publications to highlight in your query, personal experience can help you stand out and land that often difficult first sale.

Start Small

When you don't have clips in a given genre, it is sometimes hard to get the editor trust your writing abilities. Getting smaller pieces published, such as fillers or small articles, is often a great way to gain that trust and possibly obtain more work.

This method, however, does not work all the time. If you write too many short pieces, editors will come to think of you as an expert in this style of writing. Try to vary your submissions as best as you can.

Get a Website

A website can help you gain credibility as a writer. This works especially if you are writing on a specialty topic such as health and fitness or travel. Write high quality content, make sure the design is clean, provide pictures, and give your visitors a reason for coming back. In the "About Me" section, list your bio. You can provide this link to editors when sending out your queries.

Set Production Goals

Have you tried just about everything you can think of, but you still can't seem to get an assignment? Set goals as to how many queries and submissions you want to make per month in your new genre. Success is often a numbers game and if you set a number and stick to it, you will be closer to your goal.

New Writers

It can be frustrating for new writers. Most of the advice about breaking into a new publication or genre depends on the fact that you have some experience in other areas. What if you are a new writer? There are publications that are open to new writers. Check the Writer's Market or other market listings. They usually specify whether or not they welcome new writers.

If you do decide to take this approach, make sure you spend a little bit of time outlining why you are uniquely qualified to write the article. Your credentials can be more than just publishing credits. If you are pitching an article on cooking with your kids, telling the editor that you have kids and cook with them serves as your "qualification".

Editors respond if you appear passionate and knowledgeable about the subject, regardless of publication credits. This is the approach I took to start my freelance career, and I was rewarded with two paying assignments.

Don't Give Up

Finally, don't give up! Try one approach, if it doesn't work, try another. Some people give up too easily. The harder you try, the better your chances of success. If you do give up, how do you know you weren't a few attempts away from success? It is fine if you try and then your goals change. But if you give up out of pure discouragement, you could be missing out on a lot of opportunities.

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