Have you imagined breaking into the pet space as a freelance writer? Here, guest blogger and BlogPaws community member Christy Caplan shares her experience creating her dream job: freelance writing in the pet space!
Some of the best advice I ever received from another writer was to “just get started.”
The one area I was most nervous about was having to live on ramen noodles, but bootstrapping is only a stage when you start to make the transition from blogging to freelance writing. My advice? Have a plan in place that includes a savings account you can rely on and start sending those pitch letters to editors to see what sticks! Don’t immediately quit your day job but establish a list of at least 10 publications you’d like to write for and start researching their audience. This is the fun part! My initial list included health and wellness publications like Animal Wellness Magazine as I have credibility with that audience as a Certified Veterinary Technician. If your blog focuses on rescue organizations and animal welfare, consider a publication like BARK Magazine.
What do you want to say about man’s best friends, cats and dogs? Do you already have blog posts written on those topics? What expertise do you have? Do you volunteer at a shelter or are you a pet sitter? All that time you spent on your About Page can now be turned into your bio. Identify a few posts you’re proud of that reinforce the stories you’d like to write as those can easily turn into writing samples when you pitch story ideas to editors. Soon, you’ll have a number of published stories that you can refer to, but blog posts are perfect to start out with as these samples demonstrate your writing chops!
“You can find a magazine for almost every pet and every pet passion out there. Do you love cats and own a few? Magazines like Cat Fancy or Cat & Kitten will be a great market for you. Are you a horse fanatic? You could write for Equus. Do you know anything about sled dogs? How about writing for Mush? There’s a market for everyone’s fancy and the best place to start is with the magazines that are already on your coffee table,” adds the experts at FreelanceWriting.com.
With that in mind, don’t forget that YOU are an expert in the pet space. Editors are looking for knowledgeable freelance writers who are passionate about specific topics, and the goal is to whet their appetite with your story ideas. And demonstrate that you have resources you can rely on for article.
The Pet Community is Generous
You’d be surprised how many bloggers turned writers are happy to meet for coffee and talk about their approach with editors. Start by going to BlogPaws 2018! This event provides a great opportunity to network with other bloggers and writers. There are other industry events including SuperZoo and Global Pet Expo that may be worth attending.
What Makes a Successful Query to an Editor?
The secret to a good pitch letter is not only being familiar with that publication but researching what that editor recently wrote for the latest issue and an idea of their general editorial calendar for the year. You want to be able to customize a query so it’s timely and relevant for that magazine. Prove to that editor that you really know the topic you’re pitching and why it’s a good fit for their publication.
Learn more about pitching:
Practice Makes Perfect
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away! This is about relationship building. The more pitch emails you write, the better you will get at nailing the story angles–and timing plays a factor, too.
Tips for your Toolbox:
- Consider starting with local and regional animal publications: Spot Magazine is a regional animal publication that publishes every few months in the Pacific Northwest. After establishing a relationship with their publisher, I was invited to write throughout the year for their magazine. So, become familiar with the regional magazines you see in your local pet retail shop.
- What about trades, like Pet Age, Pet Business, and Pets+? Pet trades have an enormous amount of influence with a very important audience. Pet trends are key here so you’ll want to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry.
- Network and join animal organizations: Networking is probably the best advice I can give. The more animal organizations you’re a part of the more opportunities that will fall into your lap. This could include board work and charity work. Here are some places to start:
- Dog Writer’s Association of America
- Cat Writer’s Association
- National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
- Women in the Pet Industry
- Build a media list: Start with 10 publications and look under the contact information tab at the bottom of the Website. A lot of publications will include emails where you can send story ideas and your bio. Remember to do research! Search regular columns they have that you can contribute to like a “safety” column where they always use experts.
Now you’re a freelance writer! The truth is you just need to get started. It took me years to come to this realization and once I started there was momentum and now I write regularly for a number of animal publications. Good luck!
What questions do you have for Christy about breaking into freelance writing in the pet space? Have you tried pitching? Any lessons you’ve learned that you can share? We’d love to hear your questions in the comments below!
With deep experience as an Earned Media specialist, reporter and freelance writer, Christy Caplan’s strength is in developing integrated digital marketing strategies. From soup to coffee and select technology products, she has brought strategic marketing campaigns to life to drive sales for top companies such as Ruffwear Dog Gear, Boyd’s Coffee, iFLY Portland Launch, Home Builders Association of Portland, The Heathman Hotel, The Roger Hotel, Folgers, JELD-WEN Windows and Doors and Microsoft. Christy’s unique understanding of social and digital media connects consumers to brands both on and offline and influences buying decisions. Christy’s blog My Life With Dogs PDX is a publishing platform brands partner with to reach key target audiences. Her expertise as a Certified Vet Technician allows her to write about health and wellness issues that take place in clinics every day. She contributes articles to the following publications: Animal Wellness, AAHA (Pets Matter blog), Frugal Portland, Spot Magazine, City Dog Magazine, Pet Sitting World Magazine and Rover.com. She was honored to be accepted into the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) in 2016.
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