Writing for Dollars - How to get Started
"When you provide good information from which readers can learn and profit, people are more likely to buy your products and services."
- Heidi Richards -
So just how do you get started? The first step, of course is to write the article. The second step is to find the right medium. I have a small business in the floral industry. So the floral community would be my first likely target. Industry experts are generally the most sought after writers for targeted publications. Since I write mostly about sales and marketing for small business, my second likely medium would be business-related publications, such as those published by Chambers of Commerce, small business journals and other retail industry publications.
I have also found that each type of media that has printed my articles has different criteria for submission. Some want you to send a letter outlining your ideas while others will allow you to submit the actual article. However, most editors prefer that you send a query letter first and include a paragraph about yourself. I also include a link to both my websites in case they want additional information. However, many ezines and online publications allow you to send the actual article. Visit your library, online or local bookstore or do an Internet search with the words query letters for the "how to's of writing them.
It should go without saying that the article must be grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. A publisher is looking for quality content that will make her or him look better to the reader. The more unique your article, the better your chances of getting it published. Real-life, personal examples and stories have a much greater chance of getting published than do "book reports." Make sure the article is yours! No plagiarism allowed. If you do copy someone else's work, not only will you open yourself up to all sorts of legal problems, you will destroy any credibility you hoped to establish.
Whether you write articles for print media or for online publications, follow these guidelines to increase your likelihood of getting them published.
P Read the publication. Become familiar with the writing styles and content. It took several months, before one of my articles was accepted by Balance Magazine. It was an article on leadership, which they liked and found space to include. Because I was patient, tenacious and had developed a relationship with the editor, I was asked to be the South Florida Profile Editor and now write an ongoing series of articles called the PMS Principles". I interview successful women in South Florida and write their stories. What a great way to gain exposure! By the way, the PMS stands for Partnering, Mentoring and Service, which is also the title of a new book I am writing.
P Send your article to the assistant editor when there is one. You will find her or him listed in the publication.
P Ask the publication for their editorial calendar (often found on their website). An editorial calendar lists the "focus or theme of each issue. This is a great tool to use when deciding what to write and submit.
P Find out the submission requirements (writer's guidelines). These will include length of article, format, number of words, do's and don'ts, as well as deadlines for submission. In some cases it will also include writer's compensation, if and when they pay for articles.
P Write about what you know. It's easier to "sell and easier to write when you draw upon your own experiences and those of others you know. You could also write about a personal experience or a hobby you pursue (if it is newsworthy).
P Keep it simple - plain text, simple fonts, 12-point type are generally the most widely accepted format.
P Use short paragraphs. Commercials use sound bites to keep the audience's attention. Short paragraphs have a better chance of keeping the reader interested.
P Don't over-punctuate. By this, I mean the use of the exclamation point!!! or - or ??? mark. Overusing punctuation will make your words have less impact over time. And if you are submitting your articles on the Internet, these are often flagged as "spam and may never even be read.
P Ask questions. Then answer those questions. This will keep the readers attention and interest.
P Bullets can accentuate your points. Since people read in sound bites, bullets help the reader absorb the information in bite-sized pieces.
P Use creative headlines to sell your message. Instead of "How to Write Articles, use "Writing for Dollar$ or something more enticing. Send me a note with Headlines in the subject line and I will send you the article on Headlines that sell.
P Keep track and follow up. This gets more difficult over time, since your articles might be reprinted and you don't even know it, unless the publisher sends you the courtesy copy. Keep track of where you submit your articles, and follow up with editors to find out if and when they will be used. If editors don't use your work, ask for feedback. This will help you become a better writer. Create a record for yourself of the publication, the URL (web address) and the name and contact information of the person to whom you submitted your article.
P You can submit your work online to some of these more popular places. Keep in mind, there are literally thousands of ezines out there, below are just a few sites to submit your work.:
Never give up! Be patient. As the saying goes, "timing is everything, and editors and publishers are busy. If your content is good (and interesting) eventually someone will notice and you will get published. Once that happens, capitalize on the momentum and keep going. The purpose of writing articles is after all to get people to start talking about you. Oscar Wilde said "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." Make writing a part of your marketing plan and who knows, several articles later, you could be the talk of the town.
Excerpted from The PMS Principles - Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business - 2005 - Heidi Richards
About the Author
Heidi Richards is the author of The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business and 7 other books. She is also the Founder & CEO of the Women's ECommerce Association, International www.WECAI.org (pronounced wee-kī) - an Internet organization that "Helps Women Do Business on the WEB." Basic Membership is FREE. Ms. Richards can be reached at Heidi@speakingwithspirit.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.