It seems that a common problem among new writers is landing that initial publication. Each week there are inevitably new writers sending out an SOS, on Facebook groups, asking for advice on how to get their work published. When I see questions like this I can be relatively sure that questions about creating a portfolio are not far behind.
Getting published is not that hard. You just have to be willing to start at the bottom and yes you may have to write for free. It won’t be like this for long, but you have to start somewhere. Everyone starts somewhere. In addition to starting at the bottom, you have to be willing to do the work. Nothing in life is handed to us.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Network/ Guest Post
If your biggest concern is landing your first publication, then do some networking and land a guest post. There are literally millions of blogs, magazines, and websites out there that need content. Additionally, there are a million more whose sole purpose is to help writers find new opportunities. Look for blogs in your niche and reach out. If you can write quality content, I’m sure that you can find a blog or magazine that will be willing to publish your work. The key to this is quality. The blogger that you contact must see some value in what you can provide, so your work needs to be top notch.
In addition to providing value for that particular blog, remember the purpose of the piece that you send out for publication. This is the piece that you will be using in your portfolio. The piece that will serve as an example of what you can do for future publications/clients. So put your best foot forward!
Get out of your own way.
This one is important. As writers, we are own worst enemy. During the writing process, we are sure that what we are writing is the greatest masterpiece ever created with the written word. However, when it’s time to hit send we can only look at this menace with disgust. How could our busy little fingers ever pound out such drivel! And what was I thinking?
Here is my advice: GET OVER YOURSELF AND JUST HIT SEND.
This is my story. I wrote a piece, that I had very strong feelings about. It was about being a stay at home mom a wanting to be a better example for my girls. When felt that it was complete, I proceeded to read it twenty times a day, until I couldn’t look at it again. I think it took me about 7 minutes to even hit send. I had all the thoughts. “It’s not good enough”, “they’ll say no”, “I should not be a writer”. Blah blah blah. I finally hit send. And you know what? The first place I sent it to accepted it. Not only that, an editor from abcnews saw it and ended up reprinting it on their site.
I am so happy that I didn’t give in to the doubts and I got out of my own way long enough to hit send. My first hit was a home run and I know it will continue to pay dividends down the line. Oh, and by the way, it was unpaid.
The moral of the story is take the chance!
Facebook is a great resource
Do some research and find Facebook groups for writers. I landed one of my early gigs this way. The only requirement is to pay attention and look for opportunities. In other words, show up. I gained some real-world experience in pitching and networking, and I made $50. Finding the right Facebook groups can lead to a wealth of information and opportunities.
The way I see it is the things you do now are the very things that make up your story later. You won’t be the first writer to have highs and lows in your career and you certainly won’t be the last. You’ll submit pieces that get rejected and you’ll submit work that gets accepted. Throw some criticism in there and you have all the makings of a good writer!