5 Ways to Make Low-Paying Markets Work For You
By Lisa Evans
There are many reasons to support this position. Low-paying markets cheapen the work of freelance writers, they devalue your own worth and they’re hard to get out of.
But the truth is, when I started working as a freelance writer, I loved low-end markets. They accepted nearly every proposal I made. They printed my work, and paid, in a timely manner (I never had to wait five months to receive a cheque). Plus, they gave me great clippings to use when pitching other publications. Low-end markets are useful – if you use them correctly. (Note: I’m not talking about content mills like demand media or e-how, but low-paying local newspapers and blogs).
Here’s how I used low-paying gigs to pay off big.
1. I resold articles.
Twice, I took an article I’d written for one an online publication (that paid me $15 a post) and sent it to magazines, landing two assignments. One paid $75 and I only had to change one word. The other required an interview and a bit of re-shaping and paid $90.
Be sure to tell the magazine that the article was previously published on xyz website as some magazines don’t accept previously published work, but others may like the idea and ask you to re-work it for their market, which brings me to my next point …
2. I reused ideas.
I often took ideas that I’d generated for these posts and turned them into query letters to better paying markets. After writing a couple of articles on the benefits of yoga and tai-chi for an online seniors publication, I sent a query on comparing five low-impact exercises for seniors to a national seniors magazine.
3. I spun off research into new ideas.
Most of the assignments I wrote didn’t require a ton of research, but the research I did often got the idea generation wheels in my head turning, resulting in queries I could send to higher-paying publications. An article for the same seniors website on the benefits of pet therapy flicked a switch and resulted in an article on how to choose a pet for your family, which was published in a national parenting magazine.
4. I built relationships.
The editor of a low-paying online publication I wrote for moved on to develop another publication. The first call he made? Me.
Never underestimate the importance of making contacts, but also don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. When he emailed me asking for some articles for the new publication, he offered a low rate. I responded saying I’d be happy to write the pieces, but proposed a higher rate, which he accepted. I was then able to use those clippings to boost my profile and demand higher pay from editors.
5. I boosted my confidence.
The experience I gained writing these posts boosted my confidence and improved my writing.
When I first started writing, I came down with a horrible case of “they’ll-know-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-itis.” I was terrified of pitching high end markets not because I didn’t know how to craft a query, but because I was worried about what would happen if they actually said “yes”!
Writing for low-paying markets gave me confidence in my writing skills. If they thought my work was good enough to be posted on the web for all to see, surely I can get published in a national print mag, I reasoned. I also paid close attention to any edits that were made to my work, which helped improve my skills as a writer.
How about you: Have you ever parlayed low-paying work into lucrative gigs? Let us know in the Comments below!
Lisa Evans is a Canadian freelance writer. Her work has been published in regional and national publications including Canadian Living, Entrepreneur, Experience Life, Skirt!, Today’s Caregiver and more. Visit her website http://lisa-m-evans.weebly.com.