So, you want to write magazine articles to earn extra money? Great! Freelance writing is a great way to earn cash. Let’s assume you’ve already taken the time to learn the various article types and know how to slant a great piece to fit an editor’s needs. Your writing is strong, your topic compelling, your deadline looming.
I’d like to suggest one thing you might have overlooked: the Wii factor. Oh, not the Nintendo version. I’m referring to the “we” factor: universal appeal.
Many twenty-first century articles are focused on the writer, not the reader. We need to reverse that. Any piece you write—personal experience, how-to, informative, inspirational—must ultimately be about the reader, not the writer. Engage him. Uplift him. Sweep him into your story with you. Remind him of something that happened in his childhood. Evoke a strong memory. How? You’ve got to shift from the “Mii” mentality to the “Wii” mentality.
So much of this comes down to captivating the reader. You can win him over with a great story that has a compelling takeaway. Make sure the “tiny nugget of truth” is something he can relate to. If you’re writing about a fishing experience you had as a child, for example, drive home the point that your grandfather taught you how to reel in that first fish. His hand tenderly wrapped yours on the pole as that tiny catfish lifted out of the water. Grandpa celebrated alongside you, and taught you by example that quality time spent with a child far exceeds any other gift you could give. (See the takeaway? It’s clear, isn’t it? And it probably reminds you of someone who poured into your life as a child. That’s the point, after all. It’s the nugget of truth that you, the reader, carry away.)
Think about your work in progress. What sort of article is it? How can you take that piece to the next level? Pause to really think about your reader. Who is he/she? Why will this person care about your story? What’s in it for him? What emotions are you trying to tap into? Will he walk away from your article feeling uplifted? Does your story hit the mark or will the reader toss the magazine down on the coffee table, feeling like he’s been left out?
It’s not about “Mii,” even in a personal experience piece. It’s always about “Wii” (us/the human race/the reader specific).
Here’s a fun suggestion, in closing: Cut a picture of a man or woman out of a magazine and tape it to the wall above your desk. Write for him. Write for her. Write for “Wii.”