The freelance road is an exciting, albeit rocky one. To achieve the goal of publication, you have to be dogged, polite, tough skinned and tenacious. I always wanted to write, but was an environmental scientist in my day-to-day career. So, how did a biologist end up with several freelance writing gigs, enough to keep me busy during my retirement days?
I am a farmer’s wife, and married to a man who likes to go to antique tractor shows. We knew the editor of an antique tractor magazine and I screwed up my courage and asked if he could use any stories. He did and I found I had a knack for telling stories about collectors and their old iron. One story led to another, and to other publications as well. There are all types of brands of antique tractors and soon I was writing for a variety of publications, and even a farm toy magazine. What is your hobby? Which of your interests can be parlayed into articles for a niche publication?
Nearby, there is a local senior publication and I called the editor years ago to see if she needed a writer. She sent me on an assignment and now I write anything from medical topics, to senior living, to my latest passion – travel writing. Same goes for a local antique publication. In my case, I found that, for small publications, it didn’t hurt to call. While this is not always advisable depending on the publication, all the editor can do is say no. Sometimes even if he or she says no the first time, they may say yes on the second. If you don’t want to call, emails are another way. Pick up the publication you like and fire of an “I love your publication! Would you be interested in a story about…”
A call to the editor of Farm World opened the opportunity to be an Illinois Correspondent and eventually, because of my experience with old iron, a column, which has been a wonderful experience.
I also use sources like WritersWeekly. I scan the publications needing stories and try to see what fits my niche. Not long ago, a rural publication listing fit perfectly for a story about a specialty crop conference I had attended. That story will run in June, and opened up another long-term potential market.
It is easy to lose sight of the small local publications that can serve as your bread and butter when you only query to the glossy high end magazines. While I love to be printed in “cultural” publications, the editors at the papers I have written for over the years have been loyal to me, and I will be to them. Be adventurous. The Bible says it best, “Ask and ye shall receive.” If you don’t ask, you are empty handed and readers are missing something they need – your voice!
Cindy Ladage is a frequent contributor to the Illinois Times travel guides, a freelance writer she specializes in stories about people and places. Her travel blog is http://travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com. Cindy writes for antique tractor and toy magazines along with other publications like Senior News & Times. She has co-written three children’s books with Jane Aumann and recently had her first solo children’s book When Matilda Made Time Stand Still. Cindy has three fiction books that have been published as well as a series of short stories. Cindy was a contributor to the recently released Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding. She lives with her husband who is a farmer in central Illinois. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.