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Magazine Article Writing: Sync Up

Sync Up

Do you know what it’s like to be in tune with those around you? If you’re hoping to earn money selling magazine articles, you should. Staying in sync with your target audience is critical. The goal? To meet felt needs (needs the reader doesn’t even know he/she has).

How do you do that? By tuning in. Become a people watcher. Pay close attention—not just to the problems your friends and co-workers face, but how they react to them. Learn from both their victories and their mistakes.

The word sync means harmony or accord. When you’re in sync with your readers, you’re in accord (agreement) with them. In other words, you “get” them, and they “get” you/your article. Being in harmony with someone means you go out of your way to blend your voices. You don’t add dissonance. Your sole purpose is to stand in agreement with the reader and add a lovely harmony to their life experience.

Think about your electronic devices for a moment (your iPod, iPad, Android phone, etc.) When you “sync” them (say, to your computer), they share vital information. Files are easily accessible. The same is true with your reader. When you’re really synced, you have access to what they’re thinking and feeling. As a result, relevant, life-changing topics emerge. You won’t write the same old, same old. You’ll feel compelled to offer solutions to very real problems. And your readers’ lives will be impacted.

When was the last time you “synced up” to your readers? Here are a few easy ways to do so:

  • Listen. That’s it. Listen to your friends as they share their experiences. Don’t feel compelled to fix their problems. Simple allow them to open up and share.
  • Pay attention to the little things. Your friend might say she’s dealing with a weight issue, for instance. But maybe what she’s really dealing with is an issue that goes all the way back to her childhood.
  • Is there a common theme…some issue that keeps coming up in your circle of friends? (Say, an empty nest theme or a health-related situation?) If so, consider writing a themed article, one that many people will connect with.
  • Listen to people outside of your circle. Focus on the underdogs, the ones who can’t seem to catch a break. What are they struggling with?
  • Begin to think of creative solutions to the problems you’re witnessing. Don’t go the usual route. Think outside the box. Give real people real answers, not pat/cliché ones. They’re tired of things that don’t work. If you need help figuring out how to do this, study the writing craft. Take writing courses online. Get the help you need to write in a compelling way.
  • Speak from your life experience. If you have a story that might bring hope, share it. Just be careful not to do so in a condescending way, however.
  • Deep calls to deep. If your friend is dealing with a genuine crisis, (and you decide to write an article on the topic), make sure you express deep/true emotions in your piece. Be sure you protect her privacy by using pseudonyms. Don’t betray her trust.

 

Here’s a challenge: Over the next seven days, make it a point to sync up with those in your world. The pieces you write will (potentially) change lives…but it’s just as likely the stories you hear will change yours, as well.

 

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Magazine Article Writing: Going From Mii to Wii

From Mii to Wii

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.

What’s missing?

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.”

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