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Anne Wallingford, WordSmith


Freelancer's FAQ

Clipless? Don't Worry

Clipless? Don't Worry

by Beth Ann Erickson

When you start querying magazines, you'll need clips. First... in case you don't know what a clip is, here's the definition: A clip is a copy of an article or sales letter you've written.

So, how do you acquire clips? It's a catch 22 situation, isn't it? You want the writing jobs, but without clips or a portfolio, it's kinda tough to break into print.

So do what I did. I published my own newsletter. I purchased a good desktop publishing program (one with lots of wizards) and sent them (along with a short sales letter) to all the companies I wanted to work for. On my first mailing, I landed a two-page fund raising letter - and they didn't ask to see any clips. I didn't charge them much - only $400 - but I was on my way.

I still mail that newsletter four times a year. And now that I have a ton of clips/sales letters/articles/you name it under my belt guess what? Nobody asks to see my clips. And it's because they really like my newsletter.

Your newsletter not only showcases your writing talent, it also establishes you as an expert in your field. So learn everything you can about your craft, then share the knowledge with your prospective clients. Put out a great newsletter and word will spread.

Today, decide if a newsletter will work for you. Think about the subject matter you'd like to cover. Then think about a few article ideas - maybe you can even send those articles to other publications....


Otherwise known as... Still clipless? Don't Worry... Part Two

How can you land writing jobs when you don't have a portfolio and don't have time to publish a fancy newsletter?

Here's another technique I used to get piles of clips:

I approached my local newspaper and offered to be a stringer. The pay isn't very good, but it gave me a BIG supply of clips, lots of writing experience, and I made valuable contacts in my community.

So, what's a stringer? A stringer (at least in my community) is simply a freelance writer for a newspaper. I covered local city council and school board meetings and wrote a 500 - 750 word article for each one.

After I began covering these meetings for the local paper, I was able to raise my wages by approaching the local radio station's news director and asking if he'd like me to cover the meeting for him. Because news directors are usually VERY busy, they were usually happy to take me up on my offer.

By the time I "retired" from covering these types of meetings, I was making between $50 and $75 per meeting. Not bad for an evening's work.

Another benefit of being a stringer is that I was able to learn how to condense a LOT of information into a short article. I also met my communities "movers and shakers." It taught me how to manage my time, and every now and then I got to write feature article.

Having some of my articles "picked up" by the Associated Press News Service was another feather in my cap and a great addition to my resume.

So if you need lots of clips, lots of experience, and have time to write for your local paper, try being a stringer. You may like it.

About the Author

Beth Ann Erickson is Queen Bee of Filbert Publishing and the only writing ezine that'll make your writing sparkle, help you write killer queries, and get you on the road to publication fast. Better yet, you'll receive the e-booklet "Power Queries" when you sign up for your free subscription. Subscribe today at

© 2001-2012 Filbert Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Article originally ran in Issue 17 of the Worldwide Freelancer Writer, Gary McLaren, editor. For more information on freelance writing and a database of more than 1,900 writing markets, visit

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012