For years, I have been preaching to writers about spinning off material. My mantra: go to your research material for additional articles with new slants – and earn more per hour invested because you will already have done much of the research. I like to call it “making your research earn its keep.”
But you don’t always want to wait until you’ve already completed an article to look for spin-off articles, posts, and columns – especially when you’re working on a profile piece – where the source or expert gives you time to ask a lot of questions.
Think ahead when asking those questions
You likely already have a specific slant for the article you’re working on – perhaps it’s a profile of a successful new business owner, emphasizing how she achieved that success, for an entrepreneurial website. Or a profile of a local home owner, focusing on her lush landscaping for a home and garden magazine. Or a profile of a retiree who has become involved in volunteering in a big way, and thus centering on the cause that’s now a major part of his life for a local lifestyle magazine.
While you are putting together your list of questions pertaining to this initial article, add questions for possible spin-off articles –
♦ What associations or clubs does the person belong to? Most organizations have regional or national levels that produce their own publications or have their own websites. Many of these use freelance material, and some pay quite well. For instance, from our example above, AARP The Magazine likes features on members who are leading enriched lives. Most associations or clubs, whether regional or national, are interested in articles about their newsworthy members.
♦ Is the person active in any religion? I dare say every religion has multiple magazines – some multiple websites – and many buy freelance material, especially if it is about members who are doing well and doing “good.” If the person you’re interviewing is active religiously, be sure to ask if (and how) their religion has influenced whatever else they have accomplished and you are writing about for your profile.
♦ What is the heritage of that person? Ethnic magazines are big today, plus many nationalities put out publications. If your profiled subject traces his or her heritage to one that does, the magazine(s) reaching that audience may be interested in a story. Also see if any websites exist for the person’s heritage so you can investigate for potential freelance sales. If the person’s heritage features prominently in their life or successes, be sure to explore that aspect while you’re there.
♦ Is the person a graduate of any college or university? Most have alumni magazines and many pay for freelance articles and profiles. Be sure to ask questions relevant to their time at university, in order to flesh out any alumni magazine stories.
♦ Did the person serve in the military? Similar to college alumni, veterans have their own magazines. So be sure to find out if the person served, and if so, the particulars – and how that experience may connect to their successes or interests today.
♦ Does the person pursue any hobbies or personal passions? All hobbies and avocations have magazines and websites. Most of them love to have information about successful people who also pursue their hobby or interest. Ask questions about their pursuit of any hobby or passion.
Follow all avenues to potential spin-offs
This is not intended to be a complete list of questions to ask your profile subjects – it is a “getting started” template for exploring potential spin-off articles. Research the person on Google or Bing or Yahoo before you do the interview to see what you can learn. Not only will that help you form better questions for your main article, but it may well also point to other avenues to explore for additional articles. Be sure to add questions pertaining to those other avenues to your main list of questions.
Admittedly, many of these spin-off markets will not pay high fees; but because you will already have most – if not all – your research done with the original profile, your income per hour should meet your minimum requirements. You may need to go back to the person later on to ask additional questions, in order to flesh out one or more of the spin-off articles, but you should be able to ask those via phone or email – and thus they should take up very little additional research time.