Friday, November 9, 2012
Spinning Your Way to Profits
Remember the old saying, “It takes money to make money.” Spin-offs—making your material work in a number of ways—allow you to make your money earn money. While you may not have any control of how much interest your bank pays you to let them “use” your money, you do have lots of control when it comes to using accumulated materials, as well as actual articles and stories, if you own the rights to them. So let’s start there.
Unless you’ve sold an article or story for all rights, you still own secondary rights. If you’ve sold articles to newspapers, you’ve most likely sold them First Serial Rights for their market. That means you can sell that same article to any other newspaper in the country. The big papers in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are exceptions to this since they often buy exclusive or all rights, but they also pay the most. If you can find newspapers buying articles these days, you may have a treasure of articles just waiting to be used. And while smaller papers don’t pay as much, selling the same article over and over can reap big rewards for practically no work.
You can also rework previously published articles by updating them or changing their focus. You may only need to change the beginning and end of an article to enable you to sell the re-vamped piece elsewhere for secondary rights. Many markets will gladly buy secondary rights. There are quite a few markets out there that pay only five cents a word or even $35 total. While that may not seem like much, if you can find five or ten like that, you’re on your way to self-syndication.
Another way to use spin-off material is to sell the same magazine article to a number of specialty magazines. If you’ve written on a general enough subject, you can tailor the article to fit different markets just by changing the slant. An article about display techniques could be sold to magazines dealing with retail sales, antiques, home decoration, even collecting. It just takes some creative imagination on your part. If the magazine is in the lower end of the pay scale, don't bother to query the editor. Instead, just send the article, attached to an Email, explaining that you’re sending the article to see if that editor might be interested in publishing it. If your article covers a topic of universal interest, the editor will most likely purchase it.
Not only can you write spin-off material, you can also sell reprints of what you've published to specialized markets and databases. For instance, an article on stress management, reprinted separately, might be of interest to corporate managers who want to see that their management trainees have a copy. Companies and associations also buy material to distribute to their customers via newsletters.
Spin-offs do two things: They add a little more revenue to your bank account while spreading the word about your expertise.
But cultivate your sources carefully. Take time to rework the same ones. For example, to get information for an article on the ten questions investment brokers are asked most, a writer who specializes in writing about investing might contact some of the stable of resources he or she has built up over the years. Plus, with a specialty, you’ll already have a backlog of material at hand, so most of your research will already be completed.
Finally, to create financially successful spin-offs, you need to have at least 90 percent of the research material already in hand, and you have to be a fast writer. Try not to spend more than two days on a spin-off piece. If it takes more time than that, you’ll be losing money. Also, try to have your major markets pay for all the research costs by doing more research than necessary in the beginning. That way the cost won’t come out of your pocket later if you need a little more material for your spin-offs.