Many freelance writers choose to pursue a specialty magazine market, which may make finding potential markets more difficult but can also increase your chances of being published. Claiming a freelance writing niche allows you to establish your expertise in a specific area, thereby increasing the value of your work. This doesn’t mean that you can’t write for other magazine markets, but your primary focus would be on the specialty magazine market.
The first thing you should know about specialty magazines is that they are looking for writers who are experts, and not the other way around. Many professionals fancy themselves writers because they can string together a few sentences about what they do, but it takes more than that to be published in a magazine. If you are a writer who happens to be an expert in a particular area, then you’ve got what it takes to develop a freelance writing niche.
Your first goal should be to establish yourself as a writer, which means getting published anywhere possible. Some people believe that getting published on the Internet has no bearing on the print world, but this isn’t the case. The lines are already beginning to blur as many print publications find it cost-effective to switch to electronic publication exclusively. The Internet is a freelance writer’s most valuable tool because you can use it to further your career in a myriad of ways.
The best thing you can do is find websites on the Internet that will publish your work. This doesn’t mean you should submit to just any old site — there are plenty of electronic publications that can hurt your career rather than help it — but you should look for Internet resources because you can be published faster than if you were to pursue only print publications.
You’ll be surprised by how many obscure websites will pay for unique content. For example, I came across a tech-oriented website a few weeks ago that was looking for experts on publishing eBooks. I’m not an expert in that area so I didn’t contact them, but it would be a great opportunity for someone who has published eBooks in the past and has interesting insight. That is obviously a specialty area that could prove quite lucrative for the right person.
Pursuing a specialty magazine market means building your clips to prove your worth as both a writer and an expert. Once you have published a few articles, you can begin to query specialty magazine markets.
Include Your Education & Experience. Whether you’re sending a query letter or a full manuscript, you should always include your education and experience so the editor knows why you are qualified to write about that particular industry. For example, if you wanted to write for a magazine on the stock market, you would want to include the fact that you’ve worked as a financial adviser for the last twenty years.
Mention Your Interest in Specialty Magazines. It never hurts to tell an editor why you are interested in writing for that type of magazine. It won’t get you a definite assignment, but it will show that you are discerning about where you attempt to publish your work. For instance, if you are targeting a specialty magazine about snakes as pets, you might say that you have been reading their magazine for years and are continually impressed with their writers‘ knowledge of snakes.Indicate Where You Have Been Published Before. Even if you are including published clips, your cover or query letter should specify where you have been published in the past. This is especially important when pursuing specialty magazines because they will be impressed by the fact that other editors have bought your work. You aren’t just some crack pot off the street who thinks he can write about the stock market or snakes or UFO’s.