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Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of
Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting
"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of
Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank
McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell
author of The Father of All Things
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Writing About Your Hobby
article sponsored by:
Whether you have a yen for yard sales or a passion for pets,
there's an audience hungry for your articles. I found mine
during a trip to Roswell, New Mexico back in the mid-90s.
Since the "Roswell incident" of 1947, alien autopsies and
government cover-ups have become cultural icons and hot
collectibles-thanks in part to the unexpected popularity
of WB's Roswell. Who knew TV's sexy aliens and their
glow-in-the-dark hickeys would heat up the auction circuit
as well as the small screen?
When I visited the alien-friendly city, I bought up t-shirts
and commemorative pens, just like every other tourist.
However, once home, I shifted into my "writer" mode and
slugged out queries on the "story that wouldn't die".
Within weeks, I'd sold a piece on collecting aliens and
UFOs to eBay Magazine and another to Collectors.com.
I even got e-mails from readers who wanted to buy my
commemorative pins at any price!
Those Roswell pieces were the first of over 400 niche-or
specialized-articles I've written. Tightly focused and
packed with know-how, niche articles are some of the easiest
for new writers to sell.
What does it take to succeed?
· Write about your passion. If you're a yard sale
junkie, turn your vintage finds into a killer piece about
starting a home-based business, or how to tell the
difference between treasures and trash. Then pitch your
articles to collecting magazines and Web sites. Do a Google.com
search on "collectibles" to find hundreds of potential clients.
· Actually read the magazine or newspaper you're trying
to pitch. Writer's Digest editor Melanie Rigney says her
hasn't published poetry for two years, and yet she sent out a
dozen poetry rejections in just one month.
· Got a hot tip on saving money? Find a way to twist it
into a niche story, like how to pinch penny's when buying top
brand dog food (pet focus). Or, how women can avoid getting
ripped off on car repairs (women's magazine).
· Learn your way around the Internet. If you need to
interview an expert on raising independent kids, do you know
where to look? (Profnet.com) Or, can you construct an
advanced search on AltaVista.com to track down statistics on
· Find mailing lists on your specialty topic, then join
in the discussion. This is where you'll find those great
other writers are using. Check out Yahoo
and Liszt.com to find niche mailing lists.
· Persevere. Editors want to buy from you. But
sometimes they have a backlog, or they've already made a similar
assignment.If you get rejected, immediately go back and suggest
other topics. I pitched one publication for five months
before they gave me a chance. Today they're one of my bread
and butter clients.
How Do You Find Clients?
Get on the Internet and use your favorite search engine to track
down potential clients. For example, go to Google.com and type
in "alien and collectors". Then, go to the Web sites you think
are appropriate and write the Webmaster or site owner about your
background in the subject.
Then, tell them that you specialize in writing about "alien
collectibles" and would they be interested in hiring you to
write a few trial articles for their site?
Be sure to pick sites which are viable--but that I mean, don't
pick sites that are clearly hobby sites or sites which haven't
been updated since 1999. Look for sites that are selling alien
collectibles and stress that your articles would add relevant
Web content, which is useful for drawing visitors, and for
getting higher search engine rankings.
If the site doesn't offer a free newsletter to site visitors,
suggest one--and suggest that you be hired as the writer.
Remember, much of being a successful (paid) writer is about
selling your ideas.
You can also find clients by subscribing to WritersMarket.com
or by visiting your local bookstore and just scanning the racks
for magazines you think would be open to your specialty.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!!!!
If you write about cats, don't pitch just cat or pet magazines.
How many ways can you find to sell a cat article?
I challenge you to go to the bookstore and find at least 15
magazines you can pitch a cat story too.
Hint: As an example, how about a parent's magazine and an
article like "how the family cat can help teach your child about
responsibility." Get the idea?
Or--if you love music, how about pitching a piece on the
growing trend to buy musicians' autographs or instruments
What if you love outer space? Would you think about pitching
a piece on kid's space books of the 1950s? I did. In
addition, I also wrote an article for Astronomy magazine on
collecting "space stuff."
Do you see where this is going? Take a topic and find
how many ways you can spin it.
Nancy Hendrickson tells all in "Secrets of a Successful
Freelancer,"--a guide to selling whatever you write. She is the
author of five books and over one thousand articles. Join her
free e-mail newsletter course on selling and promoting e-books.
Want more info? Click