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    Home Articles

    Introduce Yourself to Local Markets

    A minor political scandal broke in the small Mississippi town where I was living, and the local paper scrambled to cover all the angles. Unfortunately, most of their writers lived in larger cities at least 50 miles away -- which, if you know Mississippians, might as well be in another country.

    The initial stories were peppered with inaccuracies about the town and the political scene. Like the rest of the locals, I was irritated by all the errors, and almost stopped reading the paper altogether. But then, one day, I noticed little sprites, dancing all over the paper. Could those possibly be ... dollar sign$?

    I sat down and dashed off a bold letter to the editor, proposing a follow-up story with quotes from residents and an interview with the political whistleblower -- who just happened to live 2 houses away from me, and often gave me gardening advice. I had no clips at the time, unless you count the poetry contest I won in 11th grade.

    But within 24 hours, I had an assignment.

    Weeklies, small dailies and regional tabloids lack the cachet of the big, metro papers or the national glossies; they are often overlooked by freelancers. A working writer can find some golden opportunities with a simple letter of introduction and a few follow- up phone calls.

    1. Identify the editors of small newspapers, shoppers' guides and local publications in your area who need to produce regular features, news items with a local spin, and home-grown human interest stories. If you live in a very small town, take a look at the next county as well.

    2. Don't forget about businesses that send out regular newsletters, like the tourist bureaus, the Rotary Club and the local junior college. Someone has to write that copy -- why not you?

    3. Pare down your list based on your own writing skills and interests. If you understand education issues, pitch a school resource guide to the Chamber of Commerce; they get requests from new residents and visitors all the time. If finance is your beat, write a piece called "How to Make Your Vacation Pay for Itself" for the regional travel mag. Like to write about food? Propose a new cooking or restaurant column to the weekly paper.

    4. Introduce yourself! Write a short but powerful letter of introduction to each potential market, personalizing each letter with the editor's correct name and title. This one has worked for me:

    Smiley Face News

    Anytown, USA

    Dear Editor -

    I am a freelance writer in Anytown, specializing in travel and in parenting issues. My work has been published in numerous print and online publications, including ABC and XYZ. As you can see from my clips, I have covered a wide range of local and regional topics. Additional samples are available on my professional website,

    I am currently available to work on a variety of assignments, including feature stories, guest columns, interviews and round-ups of regional events. I believe my experience and abilities are well- suited to your publication.

    I look forward to discussing your current needs! May I contact you during the next week to propose a few articles? If you have any questions, or need more information, I can be reached at 111-222- 3344.


    Writer With A Purpose

    5. Make those calls! Be charming, professional and brief. Have a few ideas to toss out. Make an appointment, take your relevant clips and figure out how you can help this newspaper or mag better serve its readers this year.

    A final note: do your best work and meet your deadlines. One happy editor leads to another, and another, and another ...

    Copyright © Kay Bolden

    Kay Bolden publishes FamilyFest Newsletter, a free online magazine for families of all shapes and sizes, and is the author of Think Outside the Minivan: A Guide to Travel with Kids, available at She earns vacation money by writing for weekly newspapers and travel agencies.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

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