For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of staying home and making a living as a freelance writer. No doubt many of you reading this article right now are sharing those same dreams and goals. I remember when I sold my first magazine article way back in 1978 to Delaware Today Magazine. It was titled “Stocking Your Home Bar” and I was paid $35 for writing it. I need to mention that it took nearly four years of rejections before I made that first sale. But, don’t get discouraged because, back then, there was no Internet or e-mail. Every query and on-spec submission was sent via snail mail. It wasn’t unusual to wait two or three months before you heard back from an editor.
Things are much different these days. In some of the writing workshops I teach, I jokingly tell participants that “you can now get rejected within the hour!” But, I also remind them you can also “get accepted within the hour!” Since 1996, I have been able to earn enough to allow me to work out of my home office in Delaware as a full time freelance writer, author, ghostwriter and editor.
There have been great years and there have been lean years. One thing I have learned that has kept me in the black is to be constantly searching for new and different opportunities. I have written books, press releases, magazine and newspaper articles, ad copy, white papers, greeting cards and more over the past few decades. And I believe that is part of the exciting freelance journey: There is always something different to work on.
Several years ago, I discovered the wonderful world of newsletter writing. There was an ad on one of the job boards asking for writers who had experience writing for health markets. I answered the ad and, if my memory serves me correctly, within a few hours I had my first health newsletter assignment. The article was only 250 words, and it paid $75. When you are used to writing magazine articles that are 1,500 to 3,000 words long, 250 words seemed like nothing. In fact, it took all of 20 minutes to write and, within the hour, it was accepted by the editor, and the money was paid via Paypal.
A quick trip to the library led me to discover several newsletter directories and it was like finding a pot of gold! There were hundreds of newsletter publishers in every category from A to Z listed. I was especially interested in business and health topics and I found enough prospects to keep me busy over the next few months.
Fast forward to the Internet and e-mail days, and you can find endless newsletter opportunities online, 24/7 – even online directories! Figure out what topics you like to write about: parenting, education, business, health, science, politics, shopping, etc., and then search for newsletters in those markets. Another great source of newsletter opportunities are Associations – for profit and not for profit. (Obviously the for profit ones will pay more but there are also some not for profit ones that do have large freelance budgets.)
A good place to begin looking for professional associations is by visiting the Directory of Associations. There you can search by topic, and even by state. Look in your own hometown for newsletter opportunities. A few years ago, a local hospital sent out a monthly newsletter and I normally didn’t read it…until I realized it was an opportunity for freelance cash! Sure enough, right on the masthead it gave the name and e-mail address of the marketing director. A short email introducing myself led to nearly 15 monthly assignments for no less than 3 articles per issue. (Hint: larger hospitals have larger freelance budgets.)
Other sources of newsletter opportunities include Marketing and Public Relations Agencies and specialized newsletters publishers like THIS ONE. Look for The Oxbridge Directory of Newsletters in the reference section of your library (the online subscription is very pricey). They list over 20,000 newsletter publishing companies.
Start looking for specialty newsletter opportunities and you will sell articles like never before.
Do you have advice on writing for newsletters? Please leave a comment below! 🙂
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John Riddle is a freelance writer, author and ghostwriter from Bear, Delaware. His byline has appeared in major newspapers, magazines, Web sites and trade journals all across the country. He is the author of 34 books, including a few health and medical titles, and has worked as a ghostwriter on numerous projects. John is also the Founder of I Love To Write Day, a grassroots campaign he launched in 2002 to have people of all ages practice writing every November 15. Last year over 25,000 schools all across the United States held special I Love To Write Day events and activities. He is a frequent speaker at both Christian and secular writing conferences, and recently appeared at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about John by visiting www.ilovetowriteday.org.
The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication
Practical resource outlining the self-syndication process, step-by-step. Packed with detailed information and useful tips for writers looking to gain readership, name recognition, publication and self-syndication for their column or articles.