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Becoming a stringer isn’t necessarily difficult. If you have writing talent, the ability to work well alone, and a willingness to keep up with deadlines, you may be a good fit for a position as a stringer. However, you will have to put time and effort into finding opportunities, as you probably won’t find stringer positions advertised in help-wanted ads. You’ll need to research the publications for which you’d like to write, and work hard to squeeze your foot in the door.
Start with taking a look at a local news publication for which you’d like to write as a stringer. Don’t stop with just one copy or issue; instead, peruse several copies of the publication, paying close attention to its editorial style. Brainstorm to come up with ideas for the types of articles you could submit to the publication. The publication you approach may provide its stringers with topics for articles or it may require them to submit ideas. It is best to have some ideas handy, just in case.
Prepare a portfolio that includes clips of your previously published work. If you do not have clips to showcase, don’t get discouraged. Simply write a sample article and polish it well. You want your sample article to show the editor what he or she can expect from you if you are hired as a stringer.
Once you are prepared with article ideas and writing clips or samples, it is time to contact the editor of the newspaper or publication you’ve chosen to approach. You may contact the editor by phone or snail mail. Some people even suggest visiting the editor’s office and requesting a few minutes of his or her time. If you do decide to contact the editor in person, be sure to do so after the publication’s deadline. No matter what method you choose, be polite and to the point; ask whether the editor uses stringers and let him know you are interested in writing for the publication as a stringer.
Though many stringers approach newspapers and other news publications for work, be aware that other opportunities exist as well. For example, you may be able to find stringer work with a trade publication that has a small staff and a need for quality articles. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when considering publications to approach for stringing work. Last, but not least, don’t give up if you are turned down. Perseverance is key to landing your first assignment as a stringer.
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