Friday, December 23, 2011

Make a List and Check It Twice

Everyone knows that Santa Claus makes a list and checks it twice before going on his merry way to bring gifts to all good little boys and girls. Most people do the same before going Christmas shopping. But I bet you never thought of making a list of not only all the places you could sell your writing, but also the different forms of writing you can sell, produced from the same research.

Too many non-fiction writers research an article or book idea, write and publish it, then forget about it. As the old saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

First let’s look at the many types of articles you could write based on the subject matter. If you work in education, you might consider writing one for a journal in your field. But that’s pretty much a dead end to a freelance writer and either doesn’t pay anything or very little.

If you like to travel, you have a myriad of article types to choose from. There’s always the straight travel article about the places you visit, but you could write several on the adventure or sports side of those places. And don’t forget food and historical articles about them.

If you prefer a more scientific approach, you could write about new scientific discoveries and about how they affect medicine, commerce, or industry. Writing trade articles can mean steady work.

And then there’s business and finance articles. Pieces about new business ideas, new businesses, and business advice are always in season. How to market certain types of businesses is yet another approach. Interviews with top business professionals helps those on their way up.

You could also approach a subject by its effect on people. Family relationships, genealogy, art of living, and sociological influences are just the tip of the relationship iceberg.

Your second list should be all the ways you can treat the same subject. One of the easiest articles to write is the how-to piece. Combine this with the standard advice article, and you have a winner.

If you like helping others, you may want to work your information into an inspirational article.  Tell it from your own life, and you have a personal experience piece. An article told from your own insight is one of the most powerful out there. And readers love them.

Take a look at the past and put some nostalgia into your work. Nostalgia pieces are becoming increasingly popular with the ever-growing crowd of baby boomers out there. They like to remember how things used to be, even if their memories cloud over some of the bad things and make the past seem rosy.

Reader’s Digest always said that humor is the best medicine. But not everyone can write humorous articles. Just because you think something is funny doesn’t mean your readers will. Try your humor out on your friends first.

Perhaps you want to get serious and write exposés. These take a considerable more research and time, but in the end can be worth while. If the exposé is too much for you, then perhaps you’d like to try writing controversial essays, although the market isn’t too open for them. In today’s publishing world, a blog on a controversial subject will be more likely to succeed.

And for all those books you’ve read researching an idea, perhaps you can find time to write reviews of them.

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