How to Get Hired as a Food Writer
Break into the food lover's dream job!
Your Employment Packet
The first step to getting hired involves devising a self-marketing strategy. At the minimum, you will need an employment packet consisting of a well-thought-out resume, clever cover letter and writing samples.
The resume and cover letter are covered in the complete guide.
Your Writing Samples
The samples you show to your prospective employer will ideally match the medium and content of what is required in the job you are seeking. For a radio spot, experience writing radio news would be a good example. National magazines will expect to see published clips from regional or small circulation magazines.
Go over everything you've had published so far. If nothing relates to food, don't despair. Offer your potential employer three solid writing samples, whether they are humor, investigative reporting or an editorial for the college newspaper. Do you have professional writing experience? Previously published writing clips will show your abilities; food-writing samples can push you to the front of the crowd.
If you don't have any writing samples yet, keep reading. This guide covers a number of ways to amass a collection of clips such as posting your work online, starting your own newspaper or newsletter, offering to review restaurants for free, self-syndicating, freelancing food-related articles as well as tons of advice about how to come up with ideas for a story. All this and more is still to come in this guide. ...
Each major city has a daily paper; most communities have weeklies. Really big cities have competing dailies, alternative papers and papers in the suburbs. The variety and sheer number of papers make them a good place to start a job hunt or begin a career in food writing.
For example, I live near a mid-sized city. There are two daily papers, one large chain of community weeklies, a number of independent weeklies, a paper devoted to food and restaurants, a weekly paper on music and arts in the area, senior citizen newspapers, community newsletters and free shopper newspapers in every grocery store and gas station, as well as a business journal. While not all publishers are interested in my story ideas on food and dining, there is still a lot of fertile ground to sell my writing.
Look around your region. Do the dailies have an established restaurant reviewer? See this as a challenge, not an obstacle. Your best bet for breaking in is to establish a relationship with the paper first, so contact the feature editor and pitch a food-related story. This doesn't get you a food writing job immediately, but you'll make a contact in the newspaper business that may lead to other contacts, and if he likes the story, you will end up with at least one published food article to add to your writing clips discussed earlier.
Begin with a list of publications that might be interested in your story idea. If the papers don't overlap in readership, you might even be able to sell the story idea to more than one publication. You should try to contact the editor to pitch your idea-sending unsolicited ideas is not as successful because the editor does not have the time to read them all.
How do you make the initial contact? My experience has shown that e-mailing an editor has about a 50-50 chance of success: half will read it and answer; half will never read it because they don't really use their e-mail or they're too busy with other things. The quickest way to determine if you stand a chance selling a story to a newspaper is to pick up the phone and speak to the editor in person.
This can be a simple question, "Do you use freelance writers?" or "I would like to write an article for you on the buffalo farm in Carlisle County. May I send you an outline of my story idea?" The decision might be made right over the phone if the editor is interested. Be ready to run with it if you hear, "I like the idea; I need it by next Wednesday."
How do you hook an editor with your story idea? Just like you hook a fish using its preferred bait, hook an editor using something he or she can use. Study the publication you are planning to contact. Have they published a similar story in the recent past? Who are this particular magazine or newspaper's readers and why should they read your article? Answer these questions first for each publication you approach and you'll spend less time sending out unanswered article queries.
Here is a sample story idea:
If you intend to use your creative writing as a food writer, it's none too soon to begin thinking creatively. Brainstorm for stories you can suggest to the editor:
Another idea is to choose a food topic that stands alone - bread, for example. Jeffrey Steingarten in his book The Man Who Ate Everything devotes an entire chapter to finding the right water, the right temperature and the right flour to create a sponge that will cause a yeast-free bread to rise. He travels around the country seeking advice and watching the experts - as food writer for Vogue magazine, this is all part of his job.
Once you hook an editor with your story idea and deliver an exceptionally well-written article, you've made inroads into the job of your dreams. Even if no other opportunity comes from that article you've got a wonderful clip to use on your way up. Alternative weeklies pay around $50, while an article at a daily newspaper should bring in $75 to $150.
Visit Here to find the career of your dreams.
by Tag and Catherine Goulet:
FabJob.com is featured in Woman's World Magazine ("Land Your Dream Job" article, April 2007).
FabJob Guides have been featured in stories at The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine sites.