Interested in breaking into writing or breaking into a new area? You can't go past writing fillers. Fillers are one of the most overlooked opportunities in the freelance writing world and offer one of the best opportunities for new writers.
Fillers Are In Demand
I've spoken to hundreds of editors and been told over and over again that fillers are the one thing they never get enough of. Most publications tend to publish more freelance fillers than they do freelance articles. Yet, they often receive 100 times more articles than fillers.
This is a gap in the freelance market that you can take advantage of.
Fillers are a Great Place to Get Started
Many publications are careful about publishing feature articles from writers they don't know. Even if your article is good, an editor might decide not to publish you because they don't know you as a writer. This is especially true if you don't have a lot of experience or any clips. But even without experience or clips, most editors will consider a filler. In fact, many editors treat writing fillers as the testing ground to see if a writer can be relied on to write feature articles.
Here's what one editor had to say about fillers:
"One of the best ways to break in is to write fillers. It gives me a chance to start to build a relationship with a writer and see that I can trust them. Of all the freelancers I work with, over half started out writing fillers." - Margaret, Magazine Editor
So not only can writing fillers get you some clips, it also has the potential to turn into a long-term writing opportunity. Consider fillers a stepping stone to much bigger things.
The Smart Way to Write on Spec
Fillers are almost always submitted on spec. This means that you avoid the problem of having to query the publication and sell yourself as a writer, because your filler is doing the work for you and showing the editor your writing skill.
The big argument against writing on spec is that you spend your time writing pieces that might never sell. Fillers reduce this problem because they are short and take less time to write. So even if your filler doesn't sell, you haven't wasted as much time as you would have on a longer feature article. Fillers are also more flexible, with few publications having set guidelines for fillers. This means that a filler will often be suitable for more than market. So if it gets rejected once, it's not a waste of time. You can just send it to a new market, often without having to make any changes.
Fillers Rely on Information, Not Writer Qualifications
Fillers usually rely on information, not on the writer's qualifications. This means that you don't have to sell yourself when you submit fillers. Instead, the information you put in the filler sells it for you.
This makes fillers a perfect option for writers lacking the experience or clips to sell themselves to an editor.
You Can Write a Lot of Them
Since fillers are short, you can write a lot of them and submit a lot of them. You could literally have hundreds of pieces out in the market for consideration in a short time. And if you write them well, you could have a lot of them published in a very short time. That means you can build a list of clips fast.
And one other benefit is that magazines don't have as limited a space for fillers as they do for feature articles. So if your filler gets accepted, it's likely to get published fast. The same isn't true for feature articles, where an accepted article will often be scheduled for an issue a year or two away.
That's one more good reason why fillers are a great way to build clips fast.
Once you've got the clips, then you have a few more options. Until then, fillers are a great place to start.
And one final tip. Once you have the clips and start moving into feature articles, don't forget about fillers. As you're researching a feature, take note of interesting facts, trivia, or anecdotes you come across. These can make fillers and be an added bonus, bringing in some extra cash and some extra clips.
Shelley Wake is the editor of "Getting Published Without Clips." Packed with inside information, proven methods, hidden markets, and more, it's successfully launched hundreds of freelance careers in record time.