One approach is to write articles. I don’t mean SEO articles for pennies, but articles for magazines, trade magazines and the handful of websites that pay decently.
Start with your copy of Writers Market and a pad of Post-It Flags, or small post it notes. Page through the magazines looking for ideas you can research right in your own home town, and flag those. Then make some calls or go visit or do the research – or submit a query and then do the research.
Or, walk through your downtown or mall and look for interesting things that are happening. For example, a nursery might be doing something to teach people about growing organic vegetables. Or a nail salon might be using a new, perhaps less toxic process. Or a new market might be opening. Then go to Writer’s Market
Do you see what I mean?
Ideas truly are everywhere and there are also lots of markets. Here are some more possible ideas.
- Businesses where you shop for trade magazines. Trade magazines can pay surprisingly well and welcome new writers.
- Mall management. Think beyond the stores – what about mall management or mall security or both?
- Walk a small industrial center. I love these places. Go during normal business hours, park and just wander to see what you can find. I’ve run into a world renown maker of wooden weaving tools; next to him was a business selling chunks of hardwoods for all sorts of purposes. I ran into a hang glider designer before I knew they existed, and, because I’m in San Diego, there are always surf and skate board designers, some of whom are famous and others who create real art. Any would have made a great article or two.
- Your library, both writing about libraries, or librarians, or children’s programs and as another place you can generate ideas.
- How churches / charities are handling the recession. This could be a church you attend or one you don’t. Local yellow pages can help you locate charities.
As you’re talking to businesses, charities, etc. keep in mind that any of them may also want to hire you as a writer. Often you’ll have to help them make the connection. Do your interview then after you’ve closed it, just mention that you also do copy writing or corporate writing for small business. Pause just long enough to give them your card and to let them ask a question if they have one.
When the article is published, make sure they get at least one copy. That’s a good time to ask them if they’ve ever hired a writer or to again gently suggest they might want to hire you. If they say no, and many will, you can then ask them if they know anyone who might.
The idea, of course, is to maximize your efforts. It’s so easy to just do, say an interview, and never ever realize there may be another, different kind of writing opportunity with the same person or in the same place.
I can just hear one or two of you saying “… but that seems so pushy…” No, it’s not. Not if you’re polite and always keep a real attitude of willingness to be of service. You have a talent that many need – far more than you realize. Letting people know about that talent is just good business.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu