By Rusty Fischer

The editor of The Buzz On series reveals how to face, keep and stick to an editor’s demanding deadline

Looking for up-to-the-minute market listings but tired of plugging in and logging on? Why not look on your front doorstep? The newspaper can be a valuable asset in your quest for freelance writing markets:

Class (ified) Act!

Owning a computer is no reason to neglect that inexpensive yet invaluable tool that lands with a thud on your front stoop each Sunday morning. Many potential jobs are for businesses who need quick, crafty, and quality freelance writers to help fill their Web sites, brochures, or other copy-with the quickness.

Start with the ‘professional’ jobs. Look for publishing companies, magazines, or newspapers who need columnists or copywriters. Sure, you may have to write for a construction trade magazine or a pharmaceutical brochure, but getting your foot in the door is getting your foot in the door.

If there’s nothing in the professional section, try the part-time work or miscellaneous employment sections. Freelance writing is often considered part-time, and can occasionally be called miscellaneous. Either way, don’t let another Sunday go by without checking out the Classifieds for part-time, or even full-time, writing opportunities.

Even if you don’t get the job, keep the contact information handy and check in periodically, whether there’s an ad in the paper or not. Where I live, there are several corporate offices for several large educational publishers. You can bet I stay in touch with the right people from time to time, if only to pick up a brochure or workbook assignment here or there. After all, you never know when today’s little assignment can turn into next year’s four-year assignment!

Arts Section Sifting

Another great place to find potential writing markets is in the weekly Arts section. Here you’ll find author readings, writer’s conferences, writer’s groups, local authors who’ve just been published, and contests galore. So what? Where’s the money in that? Well, I can tell you from experience that word of mouth is an editor’s, and thus a freelancer’s, best friend.

Take an author reading. Unless the author’s last name is King or Grisham (and we’re not talking Bonnie or Scott, either) chances are the event will be ill-attended and often quite painful for the author who is reading or signing copies. (Trust me, I know!) What a welcome sight a likeminded soul such as yourself would be, (even if you do have an ulterior motive).

Chat the author up. Who is her publisher? Her editor? What does she do locally to keep busy? Who are her contacts? You’ll find many authors who remember their pre-published days and will often move heaven and earth to help you.

Local writers’ groups are great places to meet other likeminded souls and learn about local, and not so local, writing opportunities. These groups often run contests and occasionally even publish anthologies of their writings. Often, the only way to find your way into these meetings, contests, or books is through the local newspaper’s Arts section. So read it!

That’s Entertainment!

Most local newspapers have a weekly entertainment section detailing the weekend’s cultural offerings. Despite the slant toward such events as pig callings and pie eating contests, these sections are nonetheless full of chances to make valuable writing contests.

Most of these sections list local poetry readings, upcoming author appearances at local bookstores, or writer’s conferences. They also usually list the names and addresses of smaller bookstores, which are often great promoters of local talent and occasionally host writer’s groups or readings.

Additionally, entertainment sections often need local movie reviewers, art aficionados, or restaurant critics to write, often for next to nothing, since the newspaper doesn’t consider this stuff ‘real’ news and isn’t willing to pay their regular reporters or columnists to do it. Send the appropriate editor on the Entertainment section’s masthead your list of credits and some appropriate samples, or maybe even a new movie or restaurant review. You might be surprised how often this simple act turns into some type of work down the road.

Reader Be There

You’d be surprised by how many newspaper clippings I receive as samples of a freelancer’s work. Are these folks hard-hitting reporters or world weary journalists? Hardly, although that’s always my first impression. When I delve a little deeper, however, I usually find out that the writer has responded to their local paper’s weekly reader column, which is often just a glorified ‘letter to the editor.’

Nonetheless, the writer usually gets a byline and sometimes even a picture, and while they are rarely paid for such infrequent columns, they do get a professional looking tear sheet that appears to be much more impressive than it actually is!


Rusty Fischer is the author of FREEDOM TO FREELANCE: The Editor of The Buzz On Series Reveals How To FIND, GET and KEEP Your Next Freelance Job, available for sale as an eBook from


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