Just like most things that are worth it in life, becoming a published writer is no easy task. There are A LOT of chances to make mistakes when there’s no real guide book to this career. That is a major reason why I decided to launch my course, Fit to Freelance, but more about that later. Here are some of the mistakes I made in the early days…
- I didn’t pitch. For several years out of college, when I would contact a magazine that I loved, I would just introduce myself and tell them about myself and tell them that I’d love to write for their publication. This gave editors nothing to work with and I basically never heard responses from any of this emails. Sure, you can get work on-assignment with a magazine or website but it’s usually after you’ve proven yourself first.
- I didn’t research editor’s names. I used to start emails with ‘Dear Editor’ and, just like my pitchless emails mentioned above, these usually didn’t result in a response. To figure out who you should be contacting with a pitch email, read this recent post.
- I didn’t follow-up. Once I got a little practice and started writing valuable queries, I would send one and done. I would wait and wait for a response and then finally hesitantly decide it was time to move on to the next editor or topic idea. Once I got the advice to follow-up, everything changed. I got more responses and, even when they were no’s, I was thrilled to have the information, closure and direction.
- I didn’t send enough queries. My cute (and pointless) little introduction emails I mentioned above and my early quality queries had one thing in common: inconsistency. I would send a few here and there with no regularity. Momentum is no joke and once I dove head-first into sending mass amounts of queries (during what seemed like all of my free time) was when I started to gain some traction and I started to land paid article assignments.
- I didn’t do enough site research. I’m always familiar with a magazine or site before I pitch an editor but sometimes I’ve failed to run a search on the site and make sure they haven’t run a similar piece in recent history and this is still a mistake I make from time to time. Sometimes I forget and sometimes there is just so much information on a site, it’s difficult to weed through. It’s made that much more difficult when you cannot sort your search history by date since an editor might be up for re-running an article topic after some time.
If any of these seem like obvious mistakes then, lucky you, you are steps ahead of where I started, even with a journalism degree and a college internship at a fitness magazine! (By the way, here are the 6 reasons you don’t need a journalism degree to be a paid fitness writer!) Because I had to stumble my way through the trenches, I want to help fellow aspiring writers get to their goals a little quicker and with fewer mistakes along the way. You can find a lot of my advice on this site and you are always welcome to send questions my way (firstname.lastname@example.org) but if you appreciate a more streamlined approach to learning, you’ll enjoy my FREE Master Class or, perhaps, my full Fit to Freelance Course since it will take you step-by-step to seeing your byline. Click here to find out more!