Young, Fabulous and Self-Employed!
We like to think of ourselves as being all of that. But did you know there’s an online magazine that’s called Young, Fabulous and Self-Employed? YFS, for short. It has a really strong social media following of millennial entrepreneurs, and it’s the darling of business magazines.
In today’s post, Lori Rochino shares how she got published in YFS Magazine and why positioning yourself as an expert is all about mindset.
Take it away, Lori!
Whether it’s your first or one-hundredth time, pitching an editor for publication can bring out feelings of performance anxiety that could prevent even the bravest from hitting that “Send” button.
YFS Magazine seemed out of my league. With the glossy photos and top contributors killing it in their industries, it didn’t seem likely I’d get published.
But I did, and today I’m here to tell you how.
I sent the pitch to YFS Magazine through their online submission form complete with the story, bio and head shot. Lo and behold, they published my piece about working from home in a small space.
Here’s what I did to make my pitch successful:
1. Think like the editors and make it easy for them to say yes.
Most editors can tell whether or not you read their publication, and it’s based on the details of your pitch (or story submitted).
It’s been said before in this series, but it bears repeating: always read a few of their previous posts or back issues before you craft that query or write that full article. I’ve learned from experience that the last thing you want is for an editor to either ignore your pitch or write you back a rejection letter on how they don’t need another story like the one you just sent them because they just published something similar.
For example, I knew I wanted to write about design and work-from-home spaces, so I had researched what had NOT been previously covered up in the subcategory section of the navigation bar on their website.
I also looked at the main page to see what kind posts were popular. This is how I got a feel for the type of content that gets liked and shared.
This helped me decide what story I wanted to write.
2. Choose a topic that they typically cover but give it a different angle.
As I did my research, I noticed two articles were specifically related to general home design, and the other three were more general “work-from-home” posts.
I did a Google search to see if they published small space design articles in the past, and I learned they had NOT.
So I made sure to include the small space angle in both the headline and in the body of the article.
Thus, I chose the headline, “How to Work From Home in a Small Space” — so “work from home” provided a more general topic that they covered before, and “in a small space” a more a specific angle.
3. Position yourself as the expert by using your own unique experience on a subject.
First, a caveat on how not feeling “expert” enough is really a mindset thing more than anything else.
As a society, the general paradigm is that a true “expert” would have a long list of credentials, preferably of the post-collegiate variety. That may be true if you’re performing surgery or teaching at college level.
As for other fields, generally speaking, some expertise is necessary, but a lack of degree or certain credentials should not deter you from taking that FIRST or NEXT step.
By “expert,” you don’t need to be the “full-vision-realized” version of an expert with advanced degree (but if you have one that’s cool too). You just need to be a few steps ahead of your readership, or have an experience where you failed and learned as a result.
Here’s a super simplistic example. Charlie is seven years old and can tie his shoe laces like a pro. His sister Sally is four years old and doesn’t know how to tie her shoe laces. In this case, Charlie would be considered the “expert” because he has “experience” and was able to teach his sister how to tie her shoes. Had he not done that because he just didn’t feel “good enough,” then he would have lost the opportunity to help.
Being an “expert” from a writing or blogging context is just about being a few steps ahead of your target audience.
In my case, I used my experience as a declutter coach. I admit, I am not Marie Kondo and don’t have a New York Times bestseller under my belt. But I’ve had experience coaching clients to help create and set up home offices within their homes – usually working with a limited amount of space.
So think about your own background and any challenges you faced that you could teach.
If you’re an emerging health coach, was there a diet or health issue you faced in your own life that could help others overcome a similar situation? If you worked at a college admissions office, is there a question or concern anxious students keep asking you over and over again that you could address?
Those are the things that would make for an interesting article that could help others and add value to their lives.
(Gina’s tip: This is such great insight, and something I believe in too. For a few other views on this topic, check out these posts: Why You Don’t Need a Journalism Degree to Be a Successful Freelance Writer and What Makes You an Expert)
4. Pitch several outlets simultaneously in order to gain momentum.
I had also been pitching to several similar sites daily, so I was already in my “pitching” zone at that time.
Some places accepted my pitches, others rejected them and many more ignored them, but it really didn’t matter, as long as I met my self-imposed quota (4-5 daily for 5 days a week at the time).
The momentum was there, so I knew things would start happening.
I really believe in the power of momentum. I noticed that when I go to the gym regularly, it’s easy to continue to work out on a consistent basis. But as as soon as I stop going, the momentum stops and it’s hard to get back into it again.
I truly believe that the same goes for pitching. Once you stop pitching, it may be hard to get started again, so try to keep some consistency in the process. The number of times you pitch weekly is up to you depending on your own goals and schedule.
By the way, if you don’t have a blog or published clips, not to worry! Editors are always on the lookout for fresh content. If you leverage your background and experience for the right outlet, you’re likely to get published.
Here’s what I got from being published on YFS Magazine:
Business entrepreneurship as you know is not typically a smooth, “go-from-point-A-to-point-B” ride, but more like a messy, squiggly-line journey that a 4-year old drew up with a Crayola crayon on construction paper.
I can’t say getting published on YFS Magazine led to any one specific result per se, but it did lead to OTHER opportunities that I never would have thought of and for which I’m super grateful, such as:
- Increased visibility which led to opportunities to connect with other influencers with service-based businesses. I was invited to present on their platforms and connect with their audiences via webinars.
- Affiliate relationship opportunities to sell products and share in commissions.
- More inquiries and sales conversations for both my freelance writing and my coaching services.
- Writing contracts in new markets (which is super exciting).
- More Twitter followers.
- Oddly, an inquiry for foreign language rights to the article (which was kind of cool too).
Key Takeaways to Pitch YFS Magazine
So, in a nutshell, here’s what you should remember:
Pitch a specific section of the blog or magazine outlet.
Position yourself as the expert based on your own background and experience—work on the mindset part too if needed and believe you’ve got something to share that can be of service.
Then build this momentum in both posting and pitching to the best of your ability to build traction to ultimately get published. For more on pitching with confidence, check out Gina’s How to Pitch Like a Man post. It’s one of my favorites on Horkey Handbook.
I hope this has been helpful for you. So, for this week, where do you plan to send your next pitch?
Lori Rochino is a Freelance Writer based in the greater Philadelphia area where she lives with her family. She enjoys traveling to places that are both child and dog friendly (she has a corgi).
She is the author of Fifty Shades of Simple: How to Prioritize in the Age of Information Overload. Her work has appeared in both national (SUCCESS, Huffington Post, YFS Magazine) and local outlets alike. Check out her blog Lorirochino.com where she hosts the Simply Designed Life Podcast.