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What’s It Like to Write a Dating Column?

JozenCummings

Jozen Cummings knows how to set up a perfect blind date. As the dating reporter for the New York Post‘s Meet Market column, he calls himself a “date-maker” instead of a “matchmaker.”

In Mediabistro’s latest installment of So What Do You Do?, Cummings talks about the lessons he’s learned from working at the Post and what it’s like to write a dating column:

What’s the writing process for a dating column?
I work with OK Cupid a lot — they send me single people and I work with their compatibility algorithm. I also created a questionnaire where I ask participants everything from what their favorite board game is to the type of places they prefer hanging out. I care a lot about the dates I set up. I know what time they’re going out and where they’re going. Even though I’m not anywhere in the vicinity, I keep my phone close in case they need anything. Then everybody who goes out is instructed to give me a recap of their date. When I get the email that’s basically going to tell me everything that happened, I cannot tell you how nervous I am because I just hope that people have a good time. That’s what I care about the most.

To hear more from Cummings, including how he created his successful blog, read: So What Do You Do: Jozen Cummings, Blogger And Dating Columnist For The New York Post?

– Aneya Fernando

Earn $1 A Word And Up At This Health-Conscious Pub

EatingWell

EatingWell‘s editorial mission is to “deliver the information and inspiration people need to make healthy eating a way of life.” This popular pub features plenty of healthy recipes, science news and food writing that’s bound to get you hungry.

Nutrition pieces are always in demand, as are travel stories (as long as they have a clear health tie-in). New writers who manage to break into the book often establish fruitful relationships with the editors there:

The best place to break in is the front-of-book “FRESH” department, which focuses on trends in health, sustainability, foods and farming, with stories about people who are revolutionizing how we enjoy food. The editors would like to see more pitches for investigative pieces on nutrition, as well as stronger, science-based queries on food and sustainability. Rather than merely outline the latest study, writers should be able to make the data relevant through storytelling.

For editors contact info and more on what they’re looking for, read: How To Pitch: EatingWell.

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Freelancers: When Should You Leave A Client?

LifeAsAFreelancer

Becoming a freelancer after working full time at a more traditional job can be a daunting transition. You are suddenly forced to be your own boss, create your own schedule and hunt for clients yourself.

Although there are plenty of benefits to becoming a freelancer, one of the major downfalls is the lack of financial stability. And nowadays, there seems to be a constant battle between what you should be paid and what you’re actually getting:

The “I can get it cheaper mindset” seems more prevalent since the Internet boom. Clients see numerous listings for blog posts at “5 cents a word” or “$6 a page” or “$10 an hour.” So often they don’t realize how unrealistic these rates are once issues like research, interviews, deadlines — plus overall skill — are factored in. Graphic designer Lucy A. Clark feels you have to hold your ground. “Unless you can educate [potential clients] about what’s really involved, walk away,” she said.

To get more tips on freelancing, read: Pros and Cons of Life as a Freelancer.

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Your Guide to Publishing Personal Essays

CraftPersonalEssays

Personal essay writing is all the rage right now. Every major publication online seems to have a “Life” or “Relationships” section. Some sites are entirely dedicated to narrative, first person stories (I’m looking at you, xoJane.com).

Writing about your own experiences can be a valuable exercise in turning observations into something meaningful. But everyone knows that sharing anything personal (let alone controversial) on the Internet can result in some ugly feedback:

If you publish your essay online, especially in a vociferous blogging community, be prepared for anything. I have been called irresponsible, a bully, mean-spirited, lazy and more. I have also been praised for my candor, my writing style and my sense of humor. Any time you publish your work, you open yourself up to criticism, but with the personal essay, criticism can cut deeper because it’s in response to your personal life. Learning how to cope with negative feedback is a constant practice, says Carinn Jade, blogger at Welcome To Motherhood. “I think 97 percent of my comments have been negative. If I’ve written a piece that’s a real trigger for me, I’ll really try not to read the comments.”

To get more tips on writing a great personal essay, read: You Life in 1,000 Words: The Craft Of Personal Essays.

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How Soledad O’Brien Would Have Covered the Government Shutdown

SoledadOBrienSoledad O’Brien, the former CNN morning anchor, now has another label to add to her already impressive resume: CEO. O’Brien recently launched Starfish Media Group, a multiplatform company that has already garnered partnerships with HBO, Al Jazeera America and CNN.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do?, O’Brien talks about the challenges of being your own boss, gives advice to undergrads and tells why journalists should follow their passion:

What would the field look like if journalists could spend the bulk of their time reporting on their areas of passion? How would that translate to the information and the consumers of that information?

I’ll give you an example. Let’s talk about a “shut down the government” story. Most channels are going to be sitting in D.C. going back and forth like, “Here’s John Boehner and the president.” That’s really going to be your coverage, as if the entire world revolves around Washington. As much as they can shut down the government, the impact is not going to be felt solely there. You could tell that story through the communities that are going to be affected. I think that right there, if you told it that way, you could really change the debate that’s going on in the news.

To hear more from O’Brien, read: So What Do You Do, Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group?

– Aneya Fernando

How to Write a Successful Magazine Pitch

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Sending a cold pitch to a major publication such as AARP The Magazine can be daunting. Freelancer Joan Trossman Bien knew she needed to get the editor’s attention fast, and that her subject had to be relevant and timely. She ended up pitching a story about Dulanie Ellis, a 64-year-old documentary filmmaker who found her passion in the second stage of her life.

The mag’s features editor Margaret Guroff thought the piece was a better fit in the FOB, and she passed it along to another editor, David Dudley. “The bottom line here is that Joan’s idea had at least three or four big things going for it,” said Dudley. “It hit on an issue that we’d been wanting to write about (the fact that American farmers, as a population, are getting so old on average). [And] it had a simple, easily understood premise that would make sense even in a short 200-word piece.”

THE PITCH:

Ms. Guroff:

I would like to write a profile for you about a woman who has truly found herself in the second act of her life and has made the many changes needed to accomplish her new passion. There is a new trend developing among baby boomers, brought about by a combination of circumstances and a belief that once you step aside, you lose your involvement in life. The majority do not intend to retire. Dulanie Ellis counts herself in that crowd.

Read the full pitch and find out why editors bit: Pitches That Worked: AARP The Magazine.

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How Quarterly.Co Helps Bloggers: Revenue!

MitchLowe

Mitch Lowe, co-founder of Netflix and former president of Redbox, knows a thing or two about how to create a successful business. Now, he’s the CEO Quarterly.Co — a subscription service that lets people receive physical items in the mail from influential contributors of their choice. They include everyone from musicians to bloggers, entrepreneurs to artists. Marie Claire creative director Nina Garcia and Bill Nye the Science Guy are the company’s most recent sign-ups.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do?, Lowe talks about how the service helps media pros:

How do you think the journalists, authors, bloggers or the media outlets themselves benefit from participating?

In a couple ways. The revenue is one. Right now they get a substantial percentage of the profits. And in addition, they are able to build their fan base and their brand in a whole new way, in a way that’s not currently possible to do. In addition, many of them participate in some of the products — they might own or they might be a sponsor of some of the products that they put in there — so they benefit because our subscribers are highly influential people. I can’t tell you the names of people, but they are people who anybody would love to have their products in the hands of.

For more, read: So What Do You Do, Mitch Lowe, Co-Founder of Netflix and CEO of Quarterly.Co?

– Aneya Fernando

CNN’s Countdown Clock: Is it Necessary?

How many other times in recent history have cable news networks utilized cheesy countdown clocks to signify impending doom? If one were to crawl out from under a rock and turn on CNN for the latest headlines, one would encounter the dubious timepieces are counting down to the debt ceiling (which, by the way, the majority of Americans don’t understand or care to) or counting up to how many days, hours, minutes, and yes, even seconds that a lucky 17 percent of federal employees have been “Out of the Office.”

Unknown-3

Shouldn’t countdown clocks be reserved for things like asteroids and viral plagues?

Read more

Adventure-Driven Stories Land $1.50 A Word At Outside

Outside

Outside magazine has evolved over the years and no longer focuses solely on active lifestyle. Of course, the monthly mag still boasts articles on exploration, sports, adventure and fitness. But now, it also carries pop culture, tech and science stories.

The pub’s content is 70 percent freelance and the readership is predominantly male — although not all of them are the typical “outdoorsy” rock climber you might expect. Many city dwellers read the mag too. The pub has a newly redesigned website, which is also open to pitches. So how do freelancers break in?

“A pitch on the best hikes in the National Parks probably won’t get you far,” said senior editor Abe Streep. But travel news that leads to actionable service — say, a story on how the Grand Canyon’s new permitting system for rafters affects readers — is very welcome. News that leads to service is the ideal: new lodges, new technology, new training tools.

To hear more advice from Streep and get editors’ contact info, read: How To Pitch: Outside.

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How to Rebound After Your Story Has Been Rejected

KilledStory

Whether it’s in your love life or your work life, being told ‘no’ can sting. When an editor rejects your writing, it can feel like a personal attack — but it’s usually not.

Editors kill stories based on a number of reasons, such as timing issues or internal changes in the publication. In any case, it’s important to find out why your piece was killed and then move on:

Whatever you do, don’t be overly apologetic. You’ll only appear desperate and needy to the editor, which doesn’t bode well if you hope to work with him or her again. I learned the hard way that editors simply don’t have patience for it. Instead, thank them for the opportunity and assure that you’ll apply the lessons from the experience to future assignments. Regardless of the reason, it’s never easy dealing with the rejection of an assignment. But instead of getting emotional, wondering if you’ll ever be good enough, try being logical, suggests New Jersey freelance writer, Stephanie Auteri. “I like to remind myself you can’t make everyone happy and you can’t be the right writer for everyone.”

To hear more words of wisdom from veteran freelancers and editors, read: 6 Things to Do After Your Story Has Been Killed.

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

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