What if there was some geeky, sci-fi way to land freelance writing gigs?
You know…like step through a portal, or tractor-beam yourself great clients and interesting assignments that pay well.
When I figured out my niche (science fiction), that’s exactly what I wanted. But I couldn’t find a lab-tested, proven method like that to get freelance writing gigs.
So I started mixing a concoction of the best practices I could find, and pitching editors ideas to land assignments.
It was kind of like a mad-science experiment in search of a formula to get freelance writing gigs. And it worked (cue insane laughter).
Even if you’re not a fan of Star Trek, science fiction novels, or futuristic technology, you can still use this method to write, pitch, and land freelance writing gigs.
Step into my writer’s lab, and I’ll show you how it’s done.
1. Use laser-beam focus
Yes, you may absolutely adore The Matrix movies. But you can’t expect to sell an article about why you love them…at least not when you’re first starting out.
So what should you do instead? Narrow your focus.
For example…if you’re a science writer, you could pitch an article about why we should be more concerned about electromagnetic pulses or how simulated reality could become our reality one day.
Find a way to stand out to editors in your niche
I geek out over Star Trek, and I wanted to land freelance writing gigs about it.
So I began to develop stories ideas based on things like what I loved about a particular facet of the show, why an episode particularly resonated with me, and what the future held for the franchise.
You’ll need to do the same with whatever niche you like to geek out about.
- What’s new in your niche that intrigues you?
- Would readers of a specific magazine, site or business be interested?
- Has this topic been written about before or recently?
- How can you shape your idea into something with a fresh angle or present something new?
Tip: Jot down five topics you’d like to write about. Then choose the one you know the most (and are the most excited) about. This will get you started.
2. Accept the mission to educate and entertain
Unless you’re writing a review or an op-ed, you need to give the reader (and your editor) more than just your opinion.
- Optimally, you want to give them an “ah-ha” moment or an “I didn’t know that” moment.
- On a really good day, you give them BOTH.
So how do you do that?
Educate and entertain, starting with your pitch to land freelance writing gigs.
It’s a skill you need to develop to land freelance writing gigs. Why?
- Just because you love something, doesn’t mean an editor or readers will.
- You’ll land more assignments if you pitch ideas that educate, entertain, or help readers to think, learn, and become more immersed in your particular niche.
Tip: After writing a pitch or before sending your assignment to an editor, ask someone who isn’t as informed about your niche to read it and give you feedback.
- Did they learn anything new?
- Was it interesting to read?
- Did they understand the focus of your article, idea, and main points?
- Or was anything confusing, boring, or hard to follow?
If that last question turns up concerns, you still have some work to do. Give your pitch a rewrite, or ask a pro editor in the Freelance Writers Den to review it.
3. Seek out smaller publications
If you’re new to writing about a particular niche or don’t have freelance writing experience, don’t grab for the brass ring right away.
For example…I started writing about science fiction for Movie Pilot, (now-defunct) which was a website devoted to television and movies. I wrote over 350 articles (not all about science fiction) for Movie Pilot, and gained a ton of experience.
And you know what happened? I gained confidence, too. I took one step outside that comfort zone and submitted to StarTrek.com, which is the premier site for everything you ever wanted to know about that franchise.
If you’re just starting out…
There are many opportunities for writers to land freelance writing gigs…EVEN if you don’t have experience or a massive portfolio of work.
You could start out by guest-posting for a small niche blog, regional magazine, or trade pub.
Tip: Don’t stay too long in the smaller leagues. When your articles or posts are getting great feedback and a decent amount of reads, be confident enough to move on.
4. Identify yourself with a simple bio
When you pitch an editor or publisher a story idea, identify yourself with a simple bio.
In other words: There’s no need to provide an exhaustive resume, list of every publication you’ve ever written for, or need to mention every niche magazine you subscribe to.
For example…If you’re pitching a new science marketing, and you’ve written for Medical Futurist, mention that with just a few other details. Keep it simple. Your bio isn’t going to impress an editor as much as the words you’ve written in your pitch.
If you have no previous experience, you can still land freelance writing gigs by showing off your writing skills with an amazing pitch.
Tip: Have several different bios prepared as publications will want different word counts. Keep a 50-word, a 75-word, and a 150-word bio handy. Update it regularly as your experience increases.
5. Speak to your audience in their own language
Yes…there really are Star Trek fans who speak Klingon.
Your fascination with the latest breakthroughs, news, or people in your niche needs to be tempered with words your target audience understands, ESPECIALLY if they might be a new reader, subscriber, or site visitor.
That means keep the five-dollar words to a minimum. Readers shouldn’t need a dictionary to look up words you’ve chosen.
TIP: Think critically as you write. Is this a word that is used in everyday language? If not, and you feel like you have to use it, you’ll need to explain it within the body of your article.
Set phasers to ‘land more freelance writing gigs’
When you’re passionate about a specific nice, science fiction or something else, it helps you:
- Find clients
- Write better content
- Land more freelance writing gigs.
Maybe you’re not gunning to write about a television/movie franchise, aliens and UFOs, or space travel, but you’re equally stoked to write for niche pubs and clients in your niche.
If you’re a geek like I am, now is the perfect opportunity for your passions to collide to pitch more prospects and land more assignments…Carrington, out.
Need help landing freelance writing gigs? Let’s discuss in the comments.