Some magazines post ads seeking regular freelance contributors, but for the most part they choose from resumes and story ideas submitted to them. Securing an ongoing gig requires impressing the editor not only when you first reach out to her but also with the quality and timeliness of the work you deliver. To persuade an editor to work with you regularly, demonstrate that you can address the audience’s needs and consistently turn in stellar work.
Show Editors Your Credentials
At many publications, you can break in by sending the editor a letter of introduction that outlines your qualifications and demonstrates that you understand the magazine’s audience. In your letter, mention other publications you’ve written for, especially those in the same niche or industry as the magazine you’re targeting. Offer to submit writing samples and ask how you can be considered for a contributing writer or contributing editor position. You can also include one or two story ideas to show the editor you can pitch ideas of interest to the magazine’s audience.
While those glossy national magazines look appealing, if you’re seeking a regular position as a contributing writer, you might have better luck at a small newspaper or magazine or at an industry publication. Many cities and states have their own magazines, sometimes run by the tourism office. Also, browse trade magazines. Nearly every industry has one, from pizza parlors to dry cleaners. In addition, many professional associations publish magazines. They’re often more open to working with new writers or those without established reputations, and they often prefer to work with a stable of regular writers.
Give Your Best Effort
Treat even a one-time gig as though it’s the beginning of an ongoing relationship with that publication. If you work the way you would for a full-time job, editors are more likely to see you as cut out for being a regular contributor. Don’t begin an assignment until you’re sure you understand the editor’s instructions. Offer frequent updates and reply promptly if the editor asks for a progress report. Also, prepare to change the direction of the piece or change or add information if the editor requests it.
Nurture Client Relationships
Winning ongoing writing gigs is sometimes simply a matter of keeping in touch with editors you’ve worked with. Once you’ve proven yourself to an editor, it’s easier to ask for repeat assignments than to send a cold email to someone new. Inquire about topics editors need covered or if they’re open to you pitching additional ideas. You can re-establish communication with editors you’ve worked with in the past, but they may be more likely to offer you additional assignments if you ask immediately when you turn in the first one, especially if they had a good experience working with you.