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The Secret to Spin-offs: A Simple Technique for Reslanting your Work
by Kelly James-Enger
As a freelancer, you have a limited number of
hours to dedicate to earning money from your work, whether youre writing part-
or full-time. Make the most of it by squeezing as much as you can out of your
Reslantingwriting about the same topic more
than once, with a different anglemeans youll spend less time on future
stories, which boosts your hourly rate.
It took me several years to grasp this fact,
though. Like most freelancers, when I started writing, I dug for story ideas,
looked for appropriate markets, and queried magazines. When I got an assignment,
I wrote the article. Then it was on to the next idea, the next market, the next
story. I wrote about topics ranging from how small businesses could protect
themselves from employment discrimination claims to how to improve your memory
to animal dissection alternatives to religious weight loss programs. Each story
took a considerable amount of time to research, but once I was finished with it,
I never revisited the topic.
If that sounds a lot like the way youve been
working, break yourself of the one idea=one story habit right now. Instead,
start thinking about the different ways you can reslant material to different
markets. That lets you take advantage of the information thats already in your
head, in your story files, and on your hard drive, reducing the amount of time
you spend researching the subject. But if youve been a one idea/one story
writer in the past, you may have to think creatively to come up with reslants
the first few times you do it.
I suggest you brainstorm from the outset. Give
it a try:
Write down your article idea here:
What angle do you plan to take with it first?
Which market(s) will you pitch?
What audiences might be interested in this
information? Dont just think about whether its a topic for men, women, or
both. Think more broadly. Is it a subject that parents would care about?
Business owners? Fitness buffs? Attorneys? Engineers? Gamers? Seniors? College
students? Frequent travelers? Professionals? People on a limited budget?
Hobbyists? Residents of California? African-Americans? People with disabilities?
Pet owners? Homeowners? Gourmands?
Considering potential audiences, what markets
might be interested in this information? Again, think broadly. Consider consumer
magazines, trade publications, and regional magazines and newspapers. Even if
some of the markets dont pay that well, a story that takes minimal time to
report and write may be worth it.
What angles would be of most interest to each
audience and market?
Lets try an example. Say your initial idea is a
story on the benefits of antioxidants for older people, and you have a
health-oriented publication like Prevention in mind. Thats a great
start, but dont stop there. How many different angles can you take with the
piece? How about:
* A piece for a womens magazine on the
importance of eating fruits and vegetables?
* A story for a parenting mag on ways to help
kids eat more produce?
* A nutrition story for a fitness publication
about how antioxidants help your body recover from exercise?
* A short piece for a mens magazine about
whether antioxidants like vitamin C help keep your immune system
* A health piece for a general interest magazine
on whether its more beneficial to get your antioxidants from your food or
* A story on local farmers markets for a
regional publication, extolling the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables?
* A cooking story for a food magazine featuring
recipes high in antioxidants?
Get the idea? Youve now got eight possible
pitches instead of just oneand Im sure you can come up with more.
Try this exercise whenever youre hashing out a
new story idea. You may be amazed at how many different approaches you can come
up with for one seemingly tiny kernel of a story idea. Even if you draw a blank
at the outset, youre bound to come across information you can use for other
approaches and angles, and youll have a leg up when it comes to finding experts
on the subject as well. Starting with one story idea is fine, but the more
angles and markets you can come up with, the more times you can cover that
topicand make more money for your time.
© Copyright 2004, Kelly James-Enger
Kelly James-Enger has authored more than a dozen books, including Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success (Writers Digest, 2012) and Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: The Writers Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books (CreateSpace, 2010). Check out her blog, Dollars and Deadlines, for practical advice about how you can make more money in less time as a nonfiction freelance writer.
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