Tag Archives: Help for Writers

Content Mills Got You Down? Research, Query, Write!

With the recent changes made by Google hitting certain writing sites squarely over the head, I hear the drums beating and the people calling – how will I continue to make good money as a writer? While I’m not here to judge how you make money writing, I have a few tips that might help. I, too, have done articles for a few content houses. It’s never been a main source of my income, however, and I feel for those depending upon these avenues as their livelihood. If you’re freelancing, or want to hit bigger markets in print (or the web), consider how it works for me.

“Research, Query, Write!” first appeared as a response to Hope Clark’s newsletter. I wrote an op-ed piece and she loved it. Purchased and published the piece in FundsForWriters. I’ve tweaked the article a bit for today’s audience, but the wisdom holds true. Going back to 2009, when my business was taking off in a grand way, I vowed never to become dependent upon one client, and certainly not one publisher. It’s 2011, and I think you can pick up a few jewels as you mine through this piece. It works for nabbing clients, querying magazines and writing strong articles editors love.

When I scour the forums and work at home boards, I read countless posts about “Where can I write?” and “Who will hire me?” Say what?

Is the old fashioned way of writing dead? Or is the market wide open for those who would research, query and write?

Call me a mixture of modern and antiquated.

While I agree that writing for content houses can pay some bills, I am a firm believer in reaching as high as I can. Rather than sweat it out for a residual site or pump out thousands of words for lower pay, I prefer to take the road less traveled: research, query, write.

Thinking

Mornings and late evenings are my prime times for figuring it all out. I lay the plans for the following day before I close my eyes and in the morning, I take more time to digest where I’m headed. This quiet time is my magic, my source and the place I draw ideas from.

Researching

Once a story is conceived, I discover if it’s viable. I look for sources, gather background information, etc. From there, phone calls, email, and leg work. Less worthy stories die on the vine, while strong ones gather speed. When it feels juicy, I know it’s hot. By then, I’m mentally prepared to query.

Querying

This is the most frightening aspect of writing for newbies and clearly, the most often overlooked. Grab Writer’s Market at the local library (or better yet, subscribe and get your markets online) and make a list of publications you can write for. Google subjects you’re interested in. A strong query can open the door to writing for the publisher of your choice. Find local and regional publishers and query the editors. Next, put the query together. This is your time to shine, share and have fun! If you need help, enlist the aid of a seasoned writer. This process seems terrifying at the onset, but believe me, when an editor emails back, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.

Writing

This is when I sit down. I know what’s expected, I’ve got the slant and the clock’s ticking. Sitting in the chair and writing, editing, fact checking, calling a source again, and editing, editing, editing can be mind-numbing! However, the end result is the crown jewel of what I do and most of all, I love weaving words. I’m extremely careful and my pieces take a lot of time to produce. If the writing’s not up to par, if it’s not what the editor wanted, if I missed something, I’m out of a check.

For those who long to be published, reach as high as you can. Dream big and do your homework. Continue honing your craft and never, ever give up.

These times seem uncertain, but the long and short of it is this: times change. That’s the nature of business. We’re all in it together — writers, clients and prospects. The written word isn’t going away, and with new technology, there are abundant opportunities for good writers. You may have to stretch a bit, but holding the bar higher is a great thing. Go for it, give it your best and let me know how it works for you!