By checking grammar and spelling errors last in the editing process, you won't waste any time by correcting those on something you may delete.
If you're writing for a newspaper or magazine and are new to professional writing, it's customary to introduce yourself and your story in a query or pitch letter. Find the name of the editor who will be handling your piece (i.e.; if you're writing an article about cars for a newspaper, find the name of the car-section editor). This information can be found in the masthead, a box containing the names of the editors, usually found near the front or comment pages of a publication. Write a catchy but brief outline of what your story is about and why that publication's readership would be interested in it. Also include a few lines about your experience as a writer. The tone of this letter should be professional, but affable and friendly. It is not the place to make demands, or admit your shortcomings as a professional writer. Discussing wages and freelance fees should come after the editor has accepted your pitch.
If you have no experience as a professional writer, do not start off pitching columns (opinion pieces). Columns are generally reserved for people who have either been working at a publication for a very long time, or for people who have a particular expertise in a field. If you're new to writing, start small. Think obituaries, human-interest stories and simple news articles. It's generally easier to start with newspapers than with magazines. Try writing for life, fashion, arts, cars or travel sections before pitching stories to news. These sections tend to be understaffed and therefore have a greater budget for freelance writers.
If you're interested in pursuing a career as a writer, be realistic. People who make their living as writers generally start to build their portfolio of published work as early as high school. It generally takes even the most dedicated writer several years before he can make a living off of the trade. In other words, don't quit your day job. Ease into writing gradually, perhaps doing freelance pieces while maintaining a more stable job part-time.
Take some courses in both non-fiction and fiction writing. Not only will they help with your work, but also you can make contacts in the business by getting to know your professors and fellow writers. This will help you to be taken seriously when you start pitching articles for publication. Being a good freelance writer means knowing how to write and how to network.
Make sure your article answers five "w" and one"h" questions: who,why, where, when, what and how.
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