Can Writers in Small Markets Ever Hit it Big?

Today Ruth Writes is officially one year old. It’s been a helluva year.

The plan was to support myself by working as a fund raising consultant and pursue journalism projects in my spare time. This being the Digital Age, I figured that armed with an iPhone, a MacBook and a Canon Digital Rebel, I could work for anyone, and from anywhere, in the Wi-Fi’d world.

Things have not gone according to plan. And I’m starting to think my location—Grand Rapids, Michigan—may have something to do with that.

The hardest thing? Breaking into larger markets. For 3 years, I’ve been writing about the arts, lifestyle and travel for an online regional magazine. I’m ready for a new challenge.

Experts suggest a few things: Ask editors you know to introduce you to editors they know. Work your way up the publication ladder, says New York Times contributor Wayne E. Pollard. Use clips from a regional magazine to get a byline in a statewide publication.

But a quick scan of my LinkedIn network reveals that the editors I know are connected to… other editors I know, who work for publications paying $100 or less for features. Yeah, or I could network my way into a sweatshop.

There also seem to be a few rungs missing from Michigan’s media ladder. I searched “Michigan” and “magazine” in Writer’s Market and found exactly zero magazines that met Pollard’s criteria.

Still, if I’ve learned anything this year it’s perseverance and agility so, in a burst of optimism, I messaged a few area writers and invited some non-local “2nd-aries” to join my LinkedIn network. An immediate reply from a travel writer in Japan did wonders for my spirits.

New travel writing friends aside, I want to be realistic about my current market’s limitations as I take Ruth Writes into Year 2, and I’m hoping you’ll help a sista out by sharing your experiences…

How has your location impacted your freelance success? 

Photo by WSK_2005

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2 comments on “Can Writers in Small Markets Ever Hit it Big?
  1. Hi Ruth —

    I get this question all the time. The thing to know is this is a global business now, freelance writing. You can absolutely earn a great income from any location — even outside the U.S.

    I have one writer who went through my one-on-one mentoring program who lives in a tiny town in Idaho. He was afraid he would need to move back to Denver to make it…but a year later, he is still living in his dream town, and now makes over six figures.

    There is opportunity wherever you are…and also opportunity to go after clients that aren’t anywhere near you.

    I hope you’re a Freelance Writers Den member…we’re doing a live training on how to do cold calls Wednesday that might open your eyes to how to land the clients you want. There’s also a Marketing e-course in the Den that could help you…plus of course the advice in the forums of the 160+ members on how to find the clients you need.

  2. Ruth Terry says:

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks so much for reading and for the tips. Right now I’m on a bare essentials professional development budget, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Den, so I will definitely keep it in mind.

    My “reply” just got REALLY long, so I think I’m going to turn it into a post… Thanks for getting my creative juices flowing!

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I'm a smart, sassy, globally-mobile freelance writer, content creator, brand journalist and nonprofit storyteller. The world is my office. Email me to find out more.
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