Today we're going to talk about setting some goals that relate directly to a career in writing for print. Starting the NY off right can set the tone for the entire year, so it pays off to do a little "leg work" on the front end of things. Here are five great goals to pencil into January that will help you get set up:
1. Re-tool your resume(s).
Freshen up all of your resumes and include any print writing credits you haven't yet added from last year. In print writing, staying current is important. Most editors will ask you for recent samples, so be sure you have them handy to send out. This also means checking in on your LinkedIn content, Facebook presence and any other online "resume-type" sites you belong to so that you can update them.
2. Reach out to editors.
This time of year most editors are just settling back into their routine, so it can be a good time to touch base. Shoot a quick e-mail to those you have already worked with and wish them a wonderful New Year. Then let them know you are available for assignments. You can also contact editors at publications you would like to write for--this works especially well for trade magazines.
3. Brainstorm and start a "tickler" file for the year.
A "tickler" file is a big list of possible article topics that you can flush out when you have the chance--or check for ideas when you are thinking about queries. Brainstorm a big list of ideas and keep them in one spot for times when you need some creative inspiration. Add to it as the year goes--when you have an idea, just pop it in there for future reference. It's a very helpful tool!
4. Set a few goals and order subscriptions.
Choose a few publications you would like to land an assignment in for 2012 and order a subscription to them. Begin to get a feel for what types of articles they run, what their unique "voice" is like and what you might be able to contribute. Reading a publication on a regular basis is one of the best ways to get ready to pitch a query. You won't duplicate what they've already run, and you will come across as having a thorough understanding of the magazine. Believe me when I tell you--editors really love that.
5. Set up your system for keeping track of queries.
No time like the NY to do this, and it really is necessary. Web writing typically does not have the kind of lead time that print writing does. You can send a query and the follow-up time can be as long as a whole year. If you have something that is already working for you...great! If not, think about what might help you stay on top of this organizational challenge and set it up. Outlook has a calendar feature that might work for some people, smartphones do as well. I use a big desk calendar so I can see the whole month at one time. It doesn't really matter what you do, but having a plan is crucial.
Do you have any suggestions for print writers who are going into the New Year? Drop a comment below!
On a personal note--I really believe in taking the time in January to do some extra legwork and log the long hours. Getting things off to a good start has been one of the keys to my success as a print writer. I can't emphasize enough how important I think it is to swing into the NY strong. And I wish you all the very best!
Note: This post was originally published on January 7, 2012.