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Friday, July 21, 2006

How To Prove You Can Write When You Have No Clips

The other day someone asked me a question. It was: 'How do you apply for a writing job when you have no writing credits?'. I knew the answer because when I relaunched my writing career last year all my writing credits were old. They proved that I used to be able to write, but there wasn't any recent history to show that someone had thought my writing was worth publishing. The advice I gave is based on what I did. Here it is:

1. Use your blog as an example of your writing. Point editors towards it and they'll be able to see your writing and people's responses to it. That will give them an idea of how popular you might be with their readers.

2. Turn some blog posts into articles, sign up with EzineArticles and upload them. The next time a job comes around, you will have clips you can show. Also, find a few places in your genre that are looking for free content and offer it to them, provided they link to your blog or site. This is a short term strategy (I don't advocate writing for free long term) designed to get you some clips. This worked extremely well for me, and it's great for promotion too.

3. If you know the publication you are approaching for a job or writing commission, write a short piece of the type they publish and send it as an example of what you can do. If you haven't got a lot of publication credits, this at least shows you've read the mag and thought about what they might want to publish.

4. Practice, practice, practice. While I was doing the EzineArticles thing, I also wrote reviews for three sites. I didn't get paid directly, but I learned a lot about what people found useful and what type of writing they responded to best. It's a good way to start to find your writing voice.

These strategies worked well for me. At the moment I have more writing work than I know what to do with, and it's only taken a year. Admittedly, I had a headstart in terms of writing experience, but in the case of clips, five year old clips are worse than nothing, so I was starting from scratch.

Now, this is just a start. I'd love to hear from the rest of you what worked when you were getting started. And editors and publishers (you know who you are), what are you looking for in a new writer?

A final question, not quite related. I'm thinking of offering an article spot in my monthly newsletter to anyone who writes about writing. No money, but a short bio with a link to your site or blog. I'm looking for 6-12 articles of 300-400 words initially. I don't mind if they've been published before as long as you own the rights. What do you think? If anyone's interested, drop me a comment

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