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Targeting Your Markets
by Kathleen Ewing

There are dozens of online newsletters for writers. Some provide a few markets or a couple dozen. You can subscribe to any number of them and spend a lot of precious time reading through those newsletter market listings without finding markets that suit your purpose. And you can tell yourself the time is justified because you are researching markets for your writing. But, if you are serious about a freelance career, you should be asking yourself not only where those newsletters find those markets, but also how you can find more of the specific types of markets you need.
 
You can purchase annual print publications such as Writer’s Market or American Directory of Writer’s Guidelines. But, as you did with newsletters you will find yourself searching through markets you don’t want or need, with the added disadvantage that many of the markets listed may be outdated before the publication even hits the rack at your local bookstore.

A better option is to visit online market databases.

www.writersmarket.com There is an annual fee to use the database at Writer’s Market online. But the internet version is more current than the hard copy publication and has a handy submission tracker.

www.woodenhorsepub.com One of the best databases, Wooden Horse has the added bonus of editorial calendars, which provide a heads up on exactly what types of articles editors want for their magazine for the next year. Requires a subscription, but different levels of prices are geared to your needs. You can give it a trial run for 24 hours for $1.99.

www.writingfordollars.com The listings here are free, have convenient categories, brief descriptions of each magazine and a direct link to editorial guidelines.

www.absolutemarkets.com This database is currently being renovated and may be worth a look when construction is complete.

Your best bet is to select databases that you can search by topic. An alphabetized database sends you right back to square one, wasting your most valuable asset—time—sifting through dozens of markets that have nothing to do with your subject matter. If you knew the names of all the magazines you wanted to target, you would go directly to their websites to look for guidelines, wouldn’t you?

Another good option is to learn how to utilize search engines. Begin with google.com and a search string “call for submissions” to see what results you get for current editorial needs. To filter out requests for erotica, motorcycle repair and cockroach extermination, it is best if you refine your search at the outset by adding “+agriculture” or whatever topic you have chosen to write about. And don’t limit yourself to reliable old Google. Try other popular search engines such as yahoo.com, altavista.com, dogpile.com or bing.com to see what variations in results you get.  

Another route is to check the search engines for directories or databases. A quick Bing search of “magazine database” may provide you with zinio.com, a directory of e-zines, while the same search on AltaVista might turn up one titled magportal.com or mrmagazine.com.

And while you are searching for markets to boost your career as a freelancer, don’t overlook trade magazines. Some pay every bit as well as top consumer mags without the hordes of competitors. Try tradepub.com for a start. Under agriculture, you will find magazines on poultry management, pest control and pig raising. Line up a couple of interviews on what’s happening down on the farm and enjoy a trip to the country to jump-start your freelance career.

No matter where you find guidelines, always check the magazine’s website to be sure everything is still current, including contact information. If you can’t find a website, visit masthead.org to see if editorial information for your targeted publication is posted there.

Subscribe to newsletters because you learn from the articles, enjoy the advertising or want to stay current on what is happening in the industry. Print them out and read them while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, lounging around on lunch break or picking up the kids at soccer practice. But don’t use them as a primary source of marketing information.

© Copyright 2010, Kathleen Ewing

Kathleen Ewing is an award-winning freelance writer headquartered in Central Arizonas high country. Among her credits are feature articles for Art Calendar, American Falconry, Bend of the River, TrailBlazer and Hobby Farms magazines. Visit her blog at www.rodeowriter.blogspot.com

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