by Jodee Redmond
I read recently in my online travels that if you send a query to a print magazine that you have a 1 in 800 chance of getting your article published. On the surface, that would seem rather discouraging, wouldn’t it?
Faced with those kinds of odds, it would be quite easy to give up and forget all about this silly idea of making a living as a freelancer (or even earning anything at all). You may have heard about employers posting ads looking for writers and getting hundreds of responses, and that can be true.
When faced with the competition out there, you have a couple of choices:
- You can give up and wonder what might have been.
- You can keep trying.
I vote for the second one. Yes, magazine editors get queries every day and they don’t choose to move forward with most of the stuff that comes across their desks. If you have been in Chapters lately, did you stop to take a look at the number and variety of magazines they have sitting in their racks? All of those magazines have material in them written by someone.
If you have tried going after the print market and it hasn’t worked out so far, then maybe that particular niche isn’t the right one for you. Find another one. There are many markets and types of writing out there, and just because you haven’t found the right one (yet) doesn’t mean that you won’t.
Perhaps instead of writing for someone else, you should be working toward developing your own information products and selling them. Maybe content writing isn’t your thing and your abilities are more geared toward copy writing or technical writing.
Instead of trying to figure out what’s available in the market, have you ever sat down and tried to picture what your ideal writing assignment would be? Is it fiction or non-fiction? Articles or e-books? Is it a blog? Do you like writing biographies? Does it have to do with promoting a product or service? Do you find that figuring out the process for doing a particular task is where it’s at for you? (And when you do this exercise, don’t edit your response in any way. This is about your dream job, not what you think you can do right now.)
Once you have a picture of what your ideal is, you can start to make a plan to get there. You may need to take a course or start to approach other kinds of potential clients than you have been working with. In the meantime, you may need to take on work that is not exactly your dream job, but that’s OK.
Look at yourself first and figure out what turns you on. Then zero in that type of work. Once you start doing that, your writing will reflect your passion. You will become a better writer, which will make it easier for you to get hired.
Those 1 in 800 odds I shared with you at the beginning of this post? Even though the odds may appear slim, someone is getting hired by the magazines. Why shouldn’t it be you? If you never send out queries, apply for jobs, or talk to potential clients, you have zero chance of being hired. I’d take 1 in 800 over zero chance any day.
Image from Morguefile.com