4 Digital Tools for Writers to Keep You On Track

4 Digital Tools for Writers to Keep You On Track

Productivity
I'm a paper and pencil gal. No two ways about it, I love my paper planner, colored file folders, and 4-color pen. I even have a collection of Flair markers that I use for color-coding or just...coloring. But, when it comes to staying organized in my business, I use what works best--paper or not. As a matter of fact, I've found four digital tools for writers that have revolutionized my productivity and helped me to be better at what I do. Digital Tools for Writers Have you met Trello? O.M.G. I LOVE Trello! I've tried many digital tools for writers like Evernote or OneNote and by the time I figure them out, I'm dropping them like a bad date. But not Trello. Trello's like that beach blonde, blue-eyed dreamboat at…
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3 Amazing Ways to Create a Story Hook for Your Articles

3 Amazing Ways to Create a Story Hook for Your Articles

Craft
Have you ever started reading a story in the newspaper or a magazine and turned the page after the first paragraph? I have. But wait a minute. Why did you do that? After all, the headline captured your attention, right? Yes, but unfortunately, the writer failed to create a story hook to keep you reading. Similar to a fishing hook, a story hook holds bait that grabs a readers attention and a barb that pulls them through the rest of the story. If you've been struggling to break into your favorite publication, take a look at your query letters and see if you've created a story hook that attracts and grabs the editor. Create a Story Hook in 1 of 3 Ways When your editor reads your query (and if…
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Where to Find Good Writing Markets

Where to Find Good Writing Markets

Finding Markets and Soliciting Work
Beginning freelancers frequently put the cart before the horse. Or rather, the idea before the target publication. Do you get an idea and run to write it up only to struggle to find a place to send it? That's what I'm talking about. Finding good writing markets should be your starting point, not writing the story. In this post, I want to talk about why you shouldn't start writing before you have an assignment and where to find good, well-paying writing markets to work with. Why you shouldn't write your story before you have an assignment As we discussed in this post, you want to know the reader you're writing for before you even begin your story. And this post showed you how to define the reader of your target…
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How to Define Your Reader when Writing for Magazines

How to Define Your Reader when Writing for Magazines

Building Relationships
  You have an idea for a story. You think you know of a publication to send it to. So, what's the next step? Next, you need to define your reader. Defining the reader of a particular publication is essential in getting an editor to respond to your pitch. Some aspects of knowing your reader are obvious--the region the publication covers, the topic of the publication or the age of the target audience. Let's take a look at a few examples.     Let's say my idea is "Three Top Ways for Menopausal Women to Lose Belly Fat." Now, I can name dozens of women's magazines on the racks in my nearest bookstore. But, if I don't know who reads those publications, if I don't know the target audience of…
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Need Story Ideas? 2 Quick Ways to Reslant 1 Idea into Many

Need Story Ideas? 2 Quick Ways to Reslant 1 Idea into Many

Craft
Have you ever picked up a magazine, noted the cover story, and asked, "Why didn't I think of that?" That happened to me once on the walk back from my mailbox. Seriously, my husband is a mattress professional so we get Sleep Savvy magazine each month. I read it regularly and have yet to pitch them because I'm still trying to come up with those perfect story ideas. Then there's one in my hand, on the cover no less—with someone else's byline! I have come up with perfect story ideas for other publications, though. And, formulating them can take some effort. Let me show you a couple quick ways to develop the perfect pitch. 2 Ways to Reslant 1 Idea into Many Story Ideas Who Else Needs to Hear This?…
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I Got a Rejection Letter, Now What?

I Got a Rejection Letter, Now What?

Finding Markets and Soliciting Work
 You sent your first (or 50th) query letter last week and you've been checking your email every hour since. Relax! this could take a while. Editors receive scads of emails every day. (I know, I used to be one.) And, if it's a really big pub, they probably don't even have the time to respond to every pitch.  But when they do, be prepared. Whether you get the assignment or a rejection letter, you have work to do. What to do when you receive a rejection letter I got a rejection yesterday. The assistant editor revealed to me the department they needed ideas for the most. And I was on that like nobodies business. I immediately sent the editor three ideas. What I got back was:     SCORE! "We…
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4 Steps to an Organized Article Writing Process

4 Steps to an Organized Article Writing Process

Productivity
Writing a magazine article isn't rocket science. But, let's face it, some folks got it and some don't, right? Not because it's hard or a special gift or anything. But because they just need an organized approach. If you're struggling to get article assignments, or more importantly repeat assignments, from your favorite publications, follow these four steps to an organized article writing process. My foolproof organized article writing process Hone your idea Before you write anything, you must hone your idea. Honing your idea involves studying the publication you wish to pitch. It's where you choose the perfect angle for those readers, narrowing it down to fit into the required word count. It's where you cut that elephant down to a couple of steaks. When I was the editor of…
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How to Write a Regular Column: Step-by-Step

How to Write a Regular Column: Step-by-Step

Productivity
Just imagine: It's 11 pm and your column is due by 6 am the following morning. You have no earthly idea what to write about so you stare at that white screen. You find yourself nodding off, wishing you could just go to bed! This is very real, folks. Idea generation is crucial for writing a successful column and it is hard! After freelancing for magazines for a couple of years--very part time--I landed my first regular column on Natural Health Ezine writing four to eight blog posts each month. I was ecstatic! Shortly after that, I started a monthly money-saving column for my local newspaper. Then another for Christian PF (now Seed Time). Then I secured another column for From Scratch magazine. Over the years, I've written regular columns…
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How to Approach Experts for an Interview

How to Approach Experts for an Interview

Building Relationships
I saw a question in a Facebook group today that I thought you might have, as well. It went something like this: When you research a story that requires interviewing sources, how do you introduce yourself? ... Do you just say you're freelancer writing about a particular topic? Thanks! This is a great question! And, it's an important question. You want to have the authority of a publication behind you so that the person is willing to give you their time. But, as a freelancer, you cannot ethically identify as an employee of a particular publication. Yet, when you have an assignment from a particular publication, you are working for them. So, it's kind of a conundrum. Let's break it down a bit.   What to say to an expert when…
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How Do I Become a Freelance Writer?

How Do I Become a Freelance Writer?

Productivity
  If you've always dreamed of seeing your name in lights, or at least a byline in a magazine, but have no idea where to begin, this post is for you. Some folks just start writing stories and sending them to editors, hoping for a bite. But that is putting the cart before the horse. Magazines don't accept already-written stories. Others email editors expressing interest in writing for them but offer no ideas for stories. While this might work for a small startup publication, it's probably a long shot. If you want to break into the magazine industry, you need to have your ducks in a row before you begin communicating with editors. Let me rabbit trail a bit.   I hate using a GPS app on my phone when…
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