As a freelance writer, I’m always racking my brains for new story ideas. Once a week, I block an entire day off to research new ideas and write queries. With pen in hand and a pot of coffee brewing, I tap out story idea after story idea, then delve into online research, finally coming up with a query letter sometime between lunch and dinner. The process can be time consuming and daunting as sometimes my brain muscles have to really stretch far to pull out a fresh idea.
Recently, however, I discovered a brainstorming strategy that had me turn one assignment into two, cutting down on my research time and allowing me to earn more money by doing less. It happened like this:
When writing a product review for an organic shampoo, I researched the product’s web page and discovered that the product was created by a Russian immigrant who began making the shampoo using recipes she’d gathered from the countryside when she was travelling around the country as a competitive swimmer. I submitted the product write-up and then contacted a magazine I’ve worked with that runs stories on successful immigrants.
I proposed a profile story on the former competitive swimmer turned shampoo business-owner. The editor accepted it immediately. While the original assignment was a small 100-word blurb that paid $50, the profile story was a much longer piece