Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Getting started in the print market: Short tutorial

Here's my short version tutorial on getting started in the print market. It's a bit rough in places, but more details on each aspect are coming in the next several days.

Getting started in the print market (short tutorial)

That's great you're wanting to get into the print market. It pays so much better than online work. I'm writing some newspaper human interest writing right now along with putting together some newsletters for nonprofits. My background is in the newspaper business and that is what I know, but of course I'm not limited to that. There are tons of other publications out there.

Here's what I did to get started. I did have the advantage of 16 years in a newspaper office and my work and I were both well-known but this should still work for you. Find all the small newspapers within a reasonable radius and get the name of the editors. Do up a resume and get a few writing samples together (published if you have any) and go up to the paper office and ask for the editor by name. Have business cards if possible. You can get them for $5 at Vista Print. Have your resume in a report cover or something that looks professional. Hand the editor your card and your resume and say you'd like to do some freelance work for them.

Small newspapers would be the best place to start with this. They are usually understaffed and in sore need of feature pieces, sports writing, and maybe even some meeting coverage although the human interest pieces seem to be the best things to freelance out. Be willing to do whatever is needed. Leave them with the impression that you are competent, professional, and timely. They should have a rate that they pay freelancers but if not they should be willing to negotiate with you. I have all kinds of rates that I get. One is $1.25 an inch, another is $75 for a 1,000 word cover feature, and another is $50 for about 800 words. It just depends. (I like to get an average of $15-20 an hour but sometimes it doesn't always work out. At first all that matters is that you are getting paid and then you can figure out an average later and even turn your nose up at some assignments!)

Keep going to the papers in your area until you have as much work as you want or as much as you can handle. Once you get it going, give preference to the ones who pay quickly. All of mine pay within a week of publication and the publication dates are very quick after I submit pieces. It took me about seven months to get enough work. It took me several more months to let all the other work I was doing go and just concentrate on my writing. Now I'm 4.5 years into freelancing and I can pick and choose what I want to do but I am very careful to remain very valuable to my editors. I’ve also gotten a lot of my current work through those first jobs I got.

I have found some websites that have a lot of good information on them. Here's the link to a list I created. My favorite is the message board at Mommy Jobs, and then most of the links to those writing sites have message boards.

Be sure to take a look at my writing website since it might have some ideas for you.

I really feel like more people would be happy if they would just try the print market. I know I had a big advantage but I think this is very feasible for just about anyone.


Laura said...

Very interesting, thanks for this information!!

Lele.lumz! said...

Very interesting, Michelle! This is definitely something I would like to try. Thanks for the info! :)