The course: Introduction to Freelance Writing
The Introduction to Freelance writing course was probably the most challenging course of the program for me. While the idea of getting paid to write is interesting to me, the need to reach out to strangers for interviews was a struggle for my introverted side.
In this course, we talked about how crucial the opening paragraph of a freelance article is. It sets the tone for the piece and grabs the reader’s attention. With so many sources of information and entertainment available today, it’s critical for the opening of a story to hook the reader. If an article doesn’t seem interesting, the reader can easily ignore it for something they like better.
We talked about the research that goes into writing a freelance article. There are a number of helpful resources for research that we learned about, like databases of journals offered by libraries. As with all writing that requires research, we were reminded how important it is to find sources that are credible.
This class also taught me some of the practical aspects of freelance writing. We talked about how to write and send a query strong enough to pique an editor’s interest. We also discussed preparation strategies and crucial technology for interviews.
I left this course with an increased understanding of how freelance writing works and the strategies writers can use to make a living with it. While I don’t currently intend to pursue a career in freelance writing, I feel confident that I would know where to start if I had an idea for an article.
I knew I wanted the bulk of my article to be an interview on mindfulness in classrooms. The challenge with writing a query was finding the unique angle that would draw interest from editors and potential readers.
I established the main character–teacher and counselor Lisa Baylis–early on in the pitch. It was important that my audience know who the article would be about and why they should be interested in that person.
Because I was writing for an audience that might have limited knowledge of mindfulness, I included some background information on what mindfulness is, similar to the information I would include around the third or fourth paragraph in the feature article.
I included information about a scientific study on the benefits of mindfulness for school-aged children to increase the credibility of the information I was proposing to include in article. I also mentioned my plans to interview local experts in psychology and teacher training to provide a factual background to the story.
At the end of the query, I included a biography of my credentials to convince editors why I would be the right person to write the article. I focused on my prior publications, my education, and my personal connection to the topics of meditation and mindfulness.
I made quite a few revisions to my query. In my original draft, I opened with a generic statement on mindfulness. This was partially because I wrote the query before completing the interview. For my revision, I decided to open the query with a scene, which I felt would be more engaging for readers.
I also chose to refine the target market for this. I aimed to publish this in a local parenting magazine, and tailored the content of the query toward that. I felt that was the best way to tackle a popular topic in a way that was unique and relevant to potential readers. That choice led me to put a stronger focus on how local parents and educators could get involved.
Finally, I updated my biography to include some of my more recent accomplishments as a writer.