Becoming a Helpful Hints Columnist

I would like to write tips on how to save money, for a newspaper or magazine. The tips are plain and practical, but may be able to help someone. Can you suggest how to get started?

By Hope J. from Wilmington, NC

June 17, 20090 found this helpful

Research your community's newspapers. Don't look just at the big major news dailies; look at weeklies, glossies, freebies, mailers, etc. Query each paper's editor with your idea. Be prepared to state how often you propose running a column and how long each would be (either in word count or, if you can determine it from the paper's specs, in column inches). If you've done anything like this before, enclose clips/samples. If you haven't, consider writing up a teaser--not the full text, but just enough of it to pique interest.

Big national mags might do this type of column also, but you're more likely to see success with them if you have a history and a nice portfolio, and the smaller local papers are a great place to build that.

If you're willing to do this free/as a community service/for the experience for a while before trying to turn it into income, you might also look into your local community blogs. Some of them are affiliated with paper-and-ink publications and can give you an in as well as build your portfolio. Caution: Keep on top of this. Be prepared to stop blogging if you find your work is being reproduced elsewhere either without your permission or in affiliated papers without notice or pay. Check terms of all community blog sites carefully--if the site managers automatically claim rights to everything that's posted, run the other way.

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June 17, 20090 found this helpful

With newpapers going out of business right and left, I would look into something with the internet.

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June 17, 20090 found this helpful

Once you decide which publications are likely to carry that information, contact the editor. If it is a newspaper, contact the food and home editor. Ask if you can submit a sample column for his/her perusal. It's competetive. If accepted, you might get their regular rate. If your column proves successful, you might consider approaching other publications. But if you sell it to more than one paper you are likely to be demoted to syndication rates. They are typically under $5, but the advantage is you can sell it to as many papers/magazines as you want.

Good luck!

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