Freelance Blog + strategy

My Favorite Place for Finding Article Ideas
hiding behind a treeEver feel like all the best ideas are already taken? Or that they're hiding in some super-secret spot that only the savviest, most talented journalists know about? Actually, it's not that hard to spot an awesome idea for an article--if you know where to look. For me, that place is what I'll call the "footnotes." Now, most blog posts or magazine articles don't have footnotes the way a longer, more scholarly piece of writing might. But often there are juicy little tidbits of information thrown in like a footnote. It's not the focus of the article or blog post, but it's interesting enough to make you curious. Take the actress who offhandedly mentions her vegetarianism in an interview about her latest movie (Bingo! Call The Vegetarian Times!). Or the article on another topic that happens to include a statistic about how seniors are the fastest growing group of gym members (AARP, anyone?). Or the name of a new book mentioned in the class notes of your alma mater. It could even be a random comment your friend makes in conversation or a tangent a source goes off on during an interview. I'm constantly looking for these golden nuggets hidden in all the information I consume on a daily basis. The reason this strategy works is that editors typically want stories that haven't been done to death. So, instead of pitching the exact same topic you read about on someone's blog or in your city newspaper, you're using the tiniest morsel of information as a springboard to something else entirely. I did this recently when I pitched a profile about a new coffee shop in my city, which I discovered because it was mentioned in passing in an article about another coffee shop. I also employed this strategy when with a profile about a new nonprofit I discovered through the newsletter of writer's association I belong to. Sure, it takes work to read with this level of attention instead of skimming everything. But over time, you get better at spotting these hidden gems and amass a knowledge of quirky trends or interesting people. Your turn! Have you employed this strategy? Did it work for you? Where else do you look for article ideas? Do tell! Flickr photo courtesy of pcgn7

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