Warning: array_key_exists() expects parameter 2 to be array, null given in /home1/vbordeau/public_html/kingdomofpaidalot.com/wp-content/plugins/mycred/addons/sell-content/includes/mycred-sell-functions.php on line 195
Turning Your Expertise and Creativity into Cash
In week 3, we analyzed the guidelines of one particular magazine, so that you can do the same with magazines that catch your professional interest.
In week 4, I’ll share a technique that helps you to take a broad subject and narrow it down until it is magazine sized.
Okay. This is where it can get fun! You’ve got your expertise lists and you’ve got magazines that look appealing to you – and you’ve matched up the magazines with areas of expertise. You’ve also studied the guidelines of at least one intriguing magazine in detail. Now you need to develop an idea for your first query.
For our example, let’s say that you’ve worked as a dog trainer and you’d like to publish an article in a magazine that helps women live healthier, happier, more productive lives. So, you know that the topic relates to dogs and needs to be relevant to women’s quality of life.
Here’s where the “rule of 7” comes in. For four years, I worked as the managing editor of a regional publishing house in Ohio. Too often, queries that I received were too large in scope, with topics more suitable for a book proposal than a magazine query. Make sure you avoid this pitfall! To do so, try the rule of 7. This rule says that, if you take a broad-sized subject and narrow it down 6 times, you’ll typically have a topic that is right-sized for a magazine article.
Here is an example using our hypothetical example of you having dog training experience and the magazine focusing on making women’s lives better:
- Level 1: dogs
- Level 2: pet dogs
- Level 3: activities for pet dogs
- Level 4: activities for pets dogs and their owners to enjoy together
- Level 5: exercising with your pet dog
- Level 6: exercising with your pet dog to lose weight
- Level 7: lose 10 pounds a month by exercising your dog
See how the seventh level sounds like a magazine article topic? I don’t know why this trick works, but it usually does.
Caution #1: make sure that you’re actually narrowing the scope with each numeral rather than listing similar and/or related topics. If you don’t employ this strategy correctly, it probably won’t work.
Caution #2: as you narrow down your idea, make sure you’re doing it in a way that suits that magazine that you want to query.
Note: if you find yourself repeatedly creating related topics when trying this exercise, your mind may be helping you to create a book on a subject and your list may work as a book’s table of contents.
Here’s another example of the rule of 7. Let’s say that you have access to a botanist and you want to write for a regional magazine that shares things to see and do in a particular geographical area. The process might go something like this:
- Level 1: botany
- Level 2: trees and plants
- Level 3: trees and plants in Ohio
- Level 4: trees and plants in Ohio state parks
- Level 5: trees and plants in Findlay State Park
- Level 6: teaching children about trees and plants in Findlay State Park
- Level 7: Findlay State Park: 5 fun ways to explore plant life with children
You may be saying that you don’t need to go through this exercise – that you can come up with magazine-sized ideas on your own. If so, that’s great. And, if you find that this exercise helps, then use it until you can brainstorm right-sized ideas without needing to go through this process.
Come up with an article idea for the magazine that you’ve selected, using expertise that you have or have access to. When you are finished, head on over to part 5.