Help a business consultant become an editorial freelancer....
December 12, 2007 9:37 PM   Subscribe

I am currently working at a consulting firm and consider myself to be a half-decent writer. Before I apply for my MBA, I'd like to enhance my application by writing articles for business magazines. How could I do this? Do you recommend any particular publications that might be willing to take a freelancer?

I currently read the WSJ,The Economist and Business Week and would love to become a contributor or freelancer for these publications... Do people cold-call them? Should I send them ideas? Are there other publications I should aim for first?

[more background]
I have a bachelors of engineering, ran and wrote for a lit. magazine in college, and currently work in business. I want to get my MBA, but my grades aren't at the top of the heap, so I thought I could enhance my applications (and be creative) by writing articles for a business magazine.

This is so far from what I did in college that I have no idea how or where to start. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
posted by moooshy to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
With the industry being what it is, almost all of the major business magazines are taking on freelancers..but you'll need much, much more than the experience you currently have. You might try a local publication...perhaps your town's newspaper or even a business-related website.

At the national level, magazines like Business Week and Forbers work mostly with journalists with three to five years' experience. Most of the young "reporters" actually do research and provide snippets for the big reporters for a year or two before they even get their names in print. Many of them have years of experience working in the business section of daily newspapers.

Again, look at something on the local level. Good luck.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:42 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's hard to break into professional writing. You'll need to have something of a portfolio before you get hired. You can start a blog to get exposure and to build your portfolio. You can also contribute to online magazines. Start small.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:18 PM on December 12, 2007

Uh...that should be "Forbes."
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 11:30 PM on December 12, 2007

You start with a boffo query letter. Get an idea for a story that you'd like to write, then pitch it. If you don't know how to write a query letter, do some research. The national publications are going to want to see some impressive credits in your clip file, so you should start small. Go to the library and browse through The Writer's Market. Find some local or smaller publications within your realm of expertise that you could pitch a story idea to. Also pitch to any newsletters or industry-specific pubs you see floating around in your office. Getting that first article published is the key. Then you've got that all-important credit for your clip file that you can refer to and include in your future queries.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:55 AM on December 13, 2007

Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine is an internationally distributed glossy mag (you should be able to find it at your local B&N). They use nothing but freelancers. They pay literally nothing, but if you can write well and have some knowledge of Smartphone or Pocket PC (Microsoft OS only) use in the enterprise, you might get a few bylines there.
posted by bricoleur at 4:09 AM on December 13, 2007

start by writing for your local business publications. the wsj/forbes/bw won't even look at you without years of experience. (it has nothing to do with your quality as a writer...they just want you to have a proven record before they spend any time or money on you.)

you might also look into writing for trade pubs ("human resources monthly" or whatever, i can't think of any offhand). another place lots of writers get their start is with the in-flight magazines published by airlines.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:22 AM on December 13, 2007

I'd aim a little lower - American City Business Journals runs weekly business papers in many cities, and many of them are hungry for freelancers.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:12 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Local business publications are a good idea, but also go after specialty publications related to your consulting experience -- Consulting Magazine, CIO Magazine, things like that. Also look at business school publications. Some are well endowed and target a nonacademic audience -- I'm thinking Stanford Review of Social Innovation, but there are a lot of publications in this category (go browse the business school library current periodicals section). Such publications are of a scale to consider letting you in with your experience, and will be more likely to be receptive to the kinds of articles you probably want to write if you're coming from consulting and headed toward business school.
posted by gum at 9:47 AM on December 13, 2007

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