Everybody is different, so how we go about launching a writing career is going to be a different story for everyone. For some of you, a quick query to Working Mother might be the first you’ve ever written. You nervously hit the SEND button on your email program and go about your life. You check your email later that day and find an acceptance of your pitch at a pay rate of $1.00 per word! You create an article based on that piece that’s just different enough to send to the regional parenting magazines, and you sell nothing … for a week. Then the acceptances come pouring in.
Or maybe you always got As in college writing classes and everyone you know says you rock as a writer. But you are having trouble getting any of the RPMs to give you even so much as a nibble. Then you try an online literary magazine that pays and you have found your niche. You go on to sell many pieces to Chicken Soup for the Soul, then try the regionals again and find even more success.
This is my Writing Story because I think it’s important to remember how you started doing something you are very passionate about.
I always thought of myself as a writer growing up, but I didn’t think I was that great at it … nothing special. I got good grades in English and Creative Writing classes in school and even wrote some decent papers during my community college years. I was always observing, journaling, venting on paper. Interesting things happened to me, but I didn’t know how to craft them into something people would want to read.
I had three kids when I started writing for money and was a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom with a husband who traveled frequently for long periods of time. I loved being a mom more than anything in the world, and I also loved recording every thought in my head while I held my nursing baby during her naptime and her big brothers watched TV nearby. Trying to not let Caillou suck out all my brain cells with his whining was a top priority back then.
We had a little paper in my city called Mother and Child Reunion that was like a regional parenting magazine only smaller and more like a little newspaper. I always found helpful parenting articles in there and wondering if I could offer them something of value. In 2006, I submitted a series on how to make money with your kid on your hip. They were only used online, and I was too chicken to ask for money. I was just happy to have a writing credit.
Next I went after my local RPM, Kansas City Parent. I had whipped up a piece about stocking up on meals (kind of a passive aggressive vent, unfortunately!) and sent it off. It ran in the January 2007 issue, I received a $25 check, and I was on top of the world.
Next up was New Beginnings (La Leche League’s magazine), and I sent off an essay on how much I love having my kids nap on me. It ran in the March/April 2007 issue, I got 2 free copies, and I was ecstatic again.
Then I stumbled upon an article online about selling reprints and started trying to send out my Stock-up-Mentality article. I made many submission mistakes, receive one kind rejection, and didn’t hear from anyone else.
After that, I got fired up about kids and fundraising, pounded out a piece, submitted it to my local newspaper, and saw it in print 6 months later, in January 2008. The pay was the satisfaction of my family knowing I could write and hearing my name on a local radio station when the host agreed with my stance.
Time to head back to the regionals, I told myself, because I loved writing articles and decided I should be writing for an income. I enjoyed some success with various magazines and kept collecting information for new markets.
Then I got pregnant with this guy, my fifth child (below) in 2009 and thought it might help other writers to learn from my mistakes and to have the list of markets, guidelines, and pay information I had compiled.
I headed into the land of ebooks while also submitting magazine articles and doing some other things on the side, like writing for Contently.com and Scripted.com and proofreading on Fiverr.com and Scripted.com.
Honestly, some of my most successful paid parenting articles came about because of annoyance at other people. I channeled my frustration into my writing, as I had done since I was a little girl, and I found that sometimes venting pays. Some examples:
· I thought my friend was nuts for grocery shopping daily with her small children in tow, so I wrote called Stock-up Mentality, sharing tips for meal planning and stocking up on groceries and meals to save time and money.
· I was getting frazzled about expectations put on my family to be several places at once on Christmas morning, so I wrote 8 Tips for Holiday Sanity. I have since earned $954 from this one article, selling it as a reprint all over the United States. And it still sells every year. Talk about residual income!
· Even though my kids were not in school, I was still affected by fundraisers through activities they were in. Instead of giving up on the whole process, I wrote Rock the Next Fundraiser and also Fundraising Life Lessons Learned. These were to put a more positive spin on that newspaper op ed.
From there, I headed in a more positive direction and started penning informational pieces: conquer the kid clutter, how to get started homeschooling, traditions (birthdays, seasonal, holidays), and so much more. Now I’ll write just about anything, including humorous listicles (Parenting by the Numbers is an article I wrote that’s humor + list + article = listicle), essays, and informational pieces on things that have zero relevance in my life (Co-Parenting Best Practices, Kindergarten Separation Anxiety, etc.).
My love for words remains all these years later. I love writing ebooks and want them to be as helpful as possible. I love writing regional parenting magazine articles and working with amazing editors. I also love connecting with other writers J
What’s your Writing Story?
*This was an excerpt from the PDF and ebook versions of my book, but it had to be omitted from the print edition due to space!
Have files of article reprints that you own but have no clue where to start reselling them? Have ideas for some fantastic new pieces but no idea who might want them? Check out my thick 441-page print book of tips, tricks, and insider information, as well as 384 paying parenting and family markets! You can order "How to Get Published (and Paid!) Writing About Your Kids" on Amazon here.