Monday, 24 September 2012

You're the best person to write this piece because ...

I was contacted by a writer who'd come up with an idea for an article for a local magazine, however, her tutor felt that the idea was something staff writers were capable of producing.

It struck me that perhaps the tutor in question may have had a background in newspapers, because publications like The Times, The Daily Mail and The Sun all have staff numbers that Boat Spotters Monthly can only dream of!

Having looked at this student's idea, whilst it could work for her local magazine target, I also felt that it could work for a national magazine too. But, another point I wanted to make here is that whilst the other tutor felt the idea could be written by a staff writer, sometimes it is not your idea you need to sell, but your experience. Why are you the best person to write this idea? Your experience gives you an insight into the idea that a staff writer might not be able to bring to the piece.

A few years ago, I sold an article to The Daily Express financial pages. It was about the benefits of saving a small amount of money each week for Christmas through a Christmas Savings club. Now, any staff writer is capable of researching and writing such a piece. However, the Daily Express commissioned my piece because of my experience with this subject:

  • For three years, I ran a Christmas Club at my place of work,
  • Not only had I set up the Christmas Club, but I'd also 'sold' the idea to my work colleagues, therefore I knew how to sell the idea to the readers, too,
  • Drawing upon my experience, I could give advice to readers about how to set up their own group and the steps they needed to take to ensure the club's probity,
  • I could also contact past members for quotes.
So, remember. It's important to have good ideas, but think about why you are the best person to write the article. That's where you can have an advantage over the staff writer. No editor is going to turn away a great idea offered by the person with the right experience. So, what are you waiting for?

Good luck!

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