Write Less and Earn More — With Spin-Offs

I remember the day I completed my book Addicted To Shopping and Other Issues Women Have With Money. I was free at last! I decided to take a week off, sleep late, read a novel, have lunch with a friend, prune my roses, and clean out the office clutter.

As I reached that last item on my list, however, I took another look. There were pages upon pages of research from my previous non-fiction books. I had quickly jammed them in a cabinet after meeting each deadline, never giving them another thought. After all, that was old stuff. I was on to something new. While straightening my files, however, I suddenly saw for the first time, the ‘gold’ in them thar pages! Hidden in a drawer was enough material to keep me writing magazine articles for years. I had actually shoved aside potential income.

If you’re like me, you’ve been allowing your research to collect mildew instead of money, then read on, and I’ll show you how to write less and earn more.

  1. Set a monthly goal — to write five or more articles a month — or whatever is realistic for you.
  2. Create a computer file to keep track of your spin-off submissions: date, title, magazine, results.
  3. List the publications you wish to write for, including name, payment range, and type of articles needed.
  4. Establish a schedule for writing the spin-offs you’ve planned. Devote one hour each evening, or use the time while a toddler naps, or write on your lunch hour at work, or as you wait in the orthodontist’s office or at the soccer field.
  5. Look through your idea file, magazine articles, journals, personal experience, or manuscript notes. For example, an article titled “When Parenting Styles Collide” resulted from research left over from my book, Innovative Grandparenting. A devotional article, “Friendship Tea,” arose from an experience I had after moving into a new neighborhood and feeling alone.
  6. Resubmit rejected articles to the next similar magazine in your targeted category, i.e., parenting, juvenile, religious, camping, history, etc. They will find a home eventually. “Family Museum” about a custom my husband and I have of displaying precious family treasures in a glass-front cabinet in our living room, finally landed at Home Life, and journaling notes from a camping trip resulted in one of my favorite pieces, “Where the Wild Things Grow.”

Payment ranges from $50 or $75 to several hundred, sometimes more, depending on the magazine. I can generally write such an article in about two hours, so you can see the excellent potential for earning extra income. And if you write in volume, the potential is even greater. Editors are always in the market for sharp, informative pieces on a wide variety of subjects. Below are some spin-offs I’ve written over the years.

Article Title Publication
“How to Throw a Great Winter Party” Reflection
“The Blessing Bag” Oblates
“Personality Puzzle” Office Hours
“Wisdom and Wrinkles” The Joyful Woman
“Getting Along With Difficult People” Evangel
“Happiness is Having a Hobby” Rainbow

Additional spin-offs can come from each of these. Twist a title, turn a word or phrase, add or subtract an anecdote or piece of information not used before. Then re-slant them for a different group or sell the same piece to a non-competing market. I did this with “The Two-Minute Pickup,” showing readers how to tackle their to-do list in two-minute segments, based on an interview with my friend and professional organizer Marcia Ramsland, creator of this technique.

Many editors accept simultaneous submissions so there’s no end to writing less and earning more! So what are we waiting for? Lunch with a friend? Pruning roses? Reading that long-awaited novel? Not now. We’re too busy — meeting new deadlines and collecting cash.

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