Friday, February 19, 2010

On Getting Articles Published

It's one thing to write insightful and well-crafted prose, quite another to navigate the business of writing - actually getting published and making money from your craft. Most of the ideas for this post come from The March/April issue of Writer's Digest, which attacked theme: Your Economic Survival Guide. Lots of great stuff here. I'll center in on ideas for getting articles published.

1. Build Relationships. Maybe you meet writers at socials or writers' conferences. Offer to take them to lunch to ask for advice. If you've written for someone before, keep in touch! Keep a good client list. If you came through with a good article last time, they're more likely to take your idea next time. Submit to them regularly.

2. Understand the Market. Perry Perkins makes a full-time living writing articles. At first, he wrote articles and used Writers Market to try to find appropriate places to place them. Then, he took a different approach. He spent several days reading through Writers Market, cover to cover, studying it. This knowledge can become a brainstorming list to dream up articles a certain publication might love. Then he could write queries based on what magazines were looking for, rather than trying to taylor his articles to fit their purposes.

There's an interesting parallel to Warren Buffett's advice to a young person wanting to learn how to invest like him. Basically, he told him to start like he did, studying every publically traded stock in the United States. The person objected - there are thousands of stocks! To which Buffett replied, "Start with the A's". I think Buffett's point was: if you want to pick the best companies, it helps to understand how they compare with other companies. The more companies you know and understand, the better decisions you can make.

Writing is a skill. But we sell our writing in a market - an industry. The more thoroughly we understand that market, the easier it will become to find the perfect match for our articles, and to propose articles that would be the perfect match for specific publications.

3. If your writing is good, then it's a numbers game - put out lots of submissions. Trying to move up from making a partial living to making a full living, Perkins upped his submissions from an average of 2.5 per day to 15 per day (assuming a five day work week). It worked!

4. Query big, well-paying publications first.

5. Don't put hours into an article until you know someone wants it. Query first.

6. Know the publication, giving editors what they want, when they want it, how they want it. You know this by studying their guidelines for submission and reading their publications.

Leftover Questions

I've written article for magazines, but have never done extensive article submission. Do most magazines accept multiple submissions? I suppose that since Perkins recommends hitting the big publications first, they he's giving them a week or a month to respond before submitting the proposal to lesser publications. How long do you give the major publication? And if there are 10 lesser publications, do you send out those 10 at the same time? What if more than one wants it? Do you write two similar, but different articles?

If you have answers or suggestions, please let me know.

31 Recent Blogging Insights

From a blogging seminar and Writer's Digest article:

1. Be extremely specific/niche. Find what's not already published on Amazon.

2. Blog about what you love.

3. If you need to make money off it, find a topic where "Something You Love" meets "Something People Will Pay For." You may love to write about your cat and the cutesy things he does. But will people pay for it? (I think this is one of the most overlooked insights in people trying to make money with their blog. It's not just, "blog every day with quality content." You've got to ask if you're putting out information that people are willing to pay for in some fashion.)

4. Break up copy with bold headlines, subheads, etc.

5. Have several beginnings of posts on your blog home page, where they can click for more.

6. Headline Tips:
  • Be Concise
  • Use full names of people and places
  • Include key words and phrases
  • Include story details.
7. Choose your own domain name, cheap from

8. Link back to earlier posts = 2 page views.

9. Ask for input - engage your audience!

10. To build a following, post every day for 30 days, then 2 - 3 x per week.

11. Comment on other blogs and track back.

12. Wordpress Direct ( is search engine optimization on steroids.

13. Set up supporting blogs that link back to your main blog.

14. Reciprocal linking is suspect to Google - looks like an arrangement.

15. Try to manage several of your social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) at once.

16. Pre-populate your tweets and blogs to save hours.

17. People and search engines love "Top Ten," "How to..." and Videos.

18. Embed the video on your blog rather than just link to youtube.

19. Put your blog address on the video.

20. Try live streaming free at, to connect with people in real time.

21. Monetize with e-books. The blog is the jumping off point.

22. Monetize with "Donate" button. "If anything I've written helped you, donate now." Just set up a merchant account with PayPal and embed the code.

23. One person with an airline insider weekly e-mail asks readers to donate once a year. It's enough to make a living. The average donation is $50 per month. He works at it full time.

24. Monetize with premium resources. So you have lots of free resources available, which lets them know you do quality stuff. Then you sell e-books or a members only section.

25. Monetize by being an Amazon Associate. When you recommend a book, you have a link to Amazon. If someone buys, you get a cut.

26. Monetize by selling ads. But you have to have a lot of traffic to make it work. You might do better approaching a compatible company than just going with Google Ads.

27. Approach other blogs with posts they could use. That gives you links coming back. Some successful bloggers get most of their traffic from other blogs.

28. Write guest posts for another blog or publication. One blogger writes a monthly column for her state's main newspaper. It gives her respect and brings people in.

29. Use 1.5 spacing. More inviting.

30. Go to Google Trends ( to find hot topics and hot searches. Other sources of trends = Technorati, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit.

31. Submit appropriate posts to article marketing directories such as or

32. Do clear calls to action: "Sign up for my newsletter," "Buy my book."

"Blogging is just like networking - the one with the most friends wins!"
"We need 1,000 eyeballs looking at our writing!"