Writing and selling articles is more than just a way to supplement massage income. It can actually lead to other massage-related revenue, like developing and teaching massage CE courses. If you’ve thought about writing articles, but have reservations, let’s change that right now. First, let’s take on fear number one:
- I’m not an expert.
It’s a common misconception to believe that you need to be an expert in order to turn out a good article. But you don’t. Instead of being the expert, you just need to find the experts and/or the research to support your piece.
For example, years ago I wrote a series of articles for runners. The premise was: if I’m running and have pain, how do I know when I should stop running?
I wasn’t a runner, so I chose 3 experts to interview. One was an orthopedist (not a runner), the other was a podiatrist (marathoner), and the last was a sports researcher (ultramarathoner). Basically, the orthopedist said to stop running if pain occurs as you run. The marathoner said to check in with the pain and if it starts to get worse during the run, consider stopping. The ultramarathoner said you can definitely run through some pain as long as you understand the potential damage being done.
The three opinions, taken together, served as a what-should-I-do-when-running-in-pain “gauge”. The orthopedist and ultramarathoner were on opposite ends of the gauge and the marathoner was in the middle. The reader could then determine where on the gauge she felt most comfortable.
Here is the link to the article series: Running with Pain articles.
- I can’t write.
Stop right there. I was a horrible writer 25 years ago. My grammar was in the hopper and I couldn’t organize my ideas. At the time, I hired a middle-school, English teacher to tutor me, I paid for professional editors to help me, and I always had my wife go over my articles in great detail before I submitted them.
I was an extreme case. You probably aren’t and only need to start writing regularly. Once you do, you’ll be able to identify your stuggles—and you’ll be able to find help on the Internet (more than likely for free).
- I don’t know who to contact.
This is an easy one. Years ago, a lot of writers would use writersmarket.com to find out about submission guidelines for magazines. But now you don’t need to pay to find out how to submit an article. Just go to the magazine’s website and look for the article submission instructions. Sometimes you will submit your query letter or article on the magazine’s website. Other times you will be instructed to email an editor.
- I don’t have the discipline.
What is it that you want out of writing? That will be the driver to help you to establish the discipline to do it. At one time, I needed article writing to help pay the bills. Money was my driver then.
Now my article writing is about me saying what I want to say. By allowing my voice to come through, I create opportunities that weren’t possible when I was just writing for magazines.Discipline for me is dependent on having the right carrot in front of my face. Click To Tweet
- I’m scared to put myself out there.
As much as I wanted to have a voice, I was terrified to put myself out there. What if someone didn’t like me?! Well, it happened. Years ago I wrote an op-ed piece about the rising cost of veterinary care. Let’s just say that not everyone agreed with me. This experience upset me so much that I basically didn’t write for a year.
The reality is that not everyone is going to agree with you. And they shouldn’t. The person that disagreed with me had some valid points—even though I would still stand behind the op-ed piece 100%. Most of the time, people are not going to go after you. And if you don’t want the heat, just stay away from controversial topics.
How to Get Started
Here’s what I would do to get started:
- Identify a writing market to pursue.
Believe it or not, the first writing market I pursued was wellness, not massage. Why? Because I wasn’t an expert in massage! Soon after I added massage and fitness. Op-eds came later.
- Pick a specific topic in that market.
If you’re counting on money from writing as part of your income, sometimes you may have to write about something that doesn’t really move you. When this happens, it can be hard to stay motivated. So when you’re first starting out, save yourself the extra stress of working to stay engaged and pick a topic that lights you up.
- Pick some magazines where your topic would be a good fit.
It’s a good idea to read some articles in the magazines that you think might be a good fit for your topic. Once you find them, study the writer’s guidelines. The guidelines will give you the important information about what the editors want and don’t want in an article. Think of the magazine editor as your massage client, you want to give the magazine editor (massage client) the article (massage) that she wants.
- Start writing.
I pitch articles before I write them when I’m working with an editor who knows me. But when you’re first starting out, I would recommend writing the article first. For one, you won’t have the pressure of having to produce your first article under the gun of an editor’s deadline. And, two, you’ll have more confidence after you have an article ready to be shopped around.
Becoming a Writer
You don’t need to be an expert to be a writer, and once you start getting your reps in (writing regularly), your confidence will grow. To get started:
- Pick a market to work in, like massage.
- Pick a specific topic in that market that interests you.
- Identify the magazines where that topic would be a good fit.
- As you write the article keep in mind the magazine’s submission requirements.
In upcoming articles I will show you how to write a query letter and help you home in on the massage market.