Monday, June 15, 2009

How to get paid for writing, Pt. 2 – Finding story ideas

How to make money writing, Pt. 2 – Finding story ideas

As a freelance writer, story ideas are key. Editors don’t want to hear – I want to write for you. They want to hear what you can offer. Pitch story ideas. Generally, don’t try to sell something you’ve already written.

First, ask yourself two questions:
1) What do I want to write about?
2) Where can I sell it?

This is sort of a chicken and egg dilemma, in a good way. You can pick a publication and find out what they are looking for by reading back issues. Try to come up with a story idea you think they will buy. Or, you can come up with a story idea and figure out a publication that might be interested.

I look for story ideas this way. I regularly check certain web sites, like the state Department of Public Health and the NIH. I know my way around these sites because I’m a health writer. I check in with sources about what’s up. I look at bulletin boards and free publications. I keep up with the publications and web sites in my beat – not just the Globe health page but trade pubs like Modern Healthcare, which covers the business of health. I localize national issues.

I basically have story idea radar on all the time.

Again, expect rejection and deal with it. The market – like all markets – is tight at the moment.

Next: What makes a good story idea?

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