From freelancer David Hochman (who has written for New York Times, Esquire, Men’s Journal, Playboy, and has “too many assignments”), here’s a simple tip for getting assignments from markets you want to write for.The tips in this article complement the curriculum of the Travel Writing program at MatadorU.
Last week David Page found this little nugget at UPOD from host David Hochman, who was cool with us republishing the entire post here at the Notebook:
In my continuing quest to reassure you that freelance writing is NOT ROCKET SCIENCE and that it’s possible to make a very good living doing this, I will say the following:
People always want to know how they can get good assignments from outlets they want to write for. For many people, the gulf between desire and assignment feels like it’s a mile-wide, and you don’t have a lifeboat, and there aren’t enough cliches like these to even begin to think about pitching. WHAT CAN YOU DO? HOW CAN YOU MAKE LIVING? WHAT THE EFF, RIGHT?
Here’s what you do: Ask.
You ask an editor. Ask an editor at a place you’re itching to write for WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR? WHAT THEY’VE BOUGHT RECENTLY FROM FREELANCERS? WHAT SPECIAL ISSUES ARE COMING UP?
This will not only show you to be interested and professional, it will also reduce the mystery by a thousandfold. You’ll have a clear plan and maybe even a deadline for when to pitch before their next story meeting. I do this all the time. I send an email to an editor or have lunch with him or her or go to fucking New York to talk to them in person, and guess what? I have too many assignments.
I am not a genius. I am not remotely the best or smartest or most talented or most efficient freelancer (well, maybe I’m one of the most efficient). But I do know what needs to happen to get work and it’s ASKING.
How you get to the editor is your challenge, yes. But it’s not that hard.
Okay. Goodbye for now, ye happy people of Poddenstein.
No, I did not think very hard about the phrasing of this email. I just batted it out and didn’t even reread it. But you get the idea.
*Learn more about how to become a travel writer — check out the MatadorU Travel Writing course.