Leveraging Humor to Develop Your Freelance Writing Career By Emma Larkins

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There are plenty of markets for humor writing in the freelance world. However, the competitiveness of the industry has driven many people to the point of execrating their poor, defenseless monitors or mailboxes. After all, the more competitive a market, the less you’re going to get paid – in part because you’ll likely have a lower successful return on your submissions rate, and in part because if you think the pay is too low your job will be given to a horde of saps chomping at the bit to make money doing something that’s “fun”.

So, how do you get around the fact that everybody and their grandmother wants to attach themselves to the laugh-powered gravy train, regardless of actual skill or quality of sense of humor? Instead of focusing on “just” writing humor, the wise freelancer should find ways to integrate material capable of inducing involuntary grins into articles for niches that aren’t strictly focused on being funny.

Develop Your Humor Brand

There are plenty of reasons to submit to humor magazines despite the competition. The good ones pay decently, and if you manage to get an article published, your catchy byline will direct views to your humor-specific blog, magazine, or website. From there, you can feed and nurture your readers until you’re ready to deploy your giggling army.

Remember, though, that when it comes to humor, a little can go a long way. Until you perfect your delivery and timing, stick to sharing rare glimpses of your comedy genius, as opposed to slathering every page of your writing with dripping gobs of your razor-sharp wit.

Write Niche-Related Humor Articles

You don’t have to limit yourself to writing for magazines that bill themselves first and foremost as “funny.” Many editors in a variety of niches appreciate writers who can inject niche-appropriate humor into their work. If you have experience with parenting, crafts, cooking, or a particular career, giving a humorous twist to your writing is a great way to get established in a new niche or to bridge the gap between publications. After all, who wouldn’t want to read a story about “When One Year Olds Attack: Teaching Kids that Toys Aren’t Missiles” or “How I Learned to Sew – and Love – the Ugliest Quilt Ever.”

Using humor is a great way to give your writing that “voice” that editors covet so dearly. Editors want someone who can attract new readers, and what better way to attract readers than by upping the entertainment value of your pieces? For example, after sprinkling my publication credits with several humorous articles about the outdoors, I was approached by an editor from Trail’s Edge Blog to write entertaining outdoor-focused articles on a regular basis.

Be Prepared to Stand By – or Change – Your Work

When you do choose to go this route, keep in mind that humor can be subjective, and it’s easier than you might think to cause offense that will lead to having to defend your work – or even rework it.

I was asked to ghostwrite some articles for a blog by a marketing company working with a well-known corporation. The representative really liked my “sense of humor.” However, after I’d written the blog post in my standard, humorous voice, it was decided that what I’d written was “too edgy” (an outcome that failed to surprise me). Luckily, after a few back-and-forths, I managed to provide the client with a humorous article that stayed within their preferred guidelines.

Stay on the Light Side

It’s easy to write humorous pieces that are disparaging. A lot of our cultural humor is based around making fun of people, or laughing at the misfortune of others. It’s a fine line to walk, but you’ll reap rewards if you can manage to make your work entertaining without resorting to cheap tricks. Your clients and your loyal fans will thank you for it – and you’re less likely to get whoopee cushions or chattering teeth in the mail.

10 PAYING HUMOR MARKETS

Cracked
Pays $50 per article for your first four articles, then $150 afterwards

Saturday Evening Post
Pays $25-$400 per article

Suddenly Senior
Pays $25 per article

The Smoking Jacket
(send an email for more information)
Pays $50-$150 per article

Ask Men
Pays $50 per article

Funny Times
Pays $60 per article

The Imperfect Parent
Pays $25 per article

Smithsonian
Pays $1000 per article

Emma Larkins is a freelance humor writer and Internet marketer whose online content is viewed by almost 200,000 people each month. The closest thing to a rubber chicken she owns is a toy dinosaur named Fred. To learn more about her work, check out her website at http://www.emmalarkins.com.