Let’s face it, pulling together a well-researched, feature-length article is a lot of work. So, when you’ve finished, put it to work for you in the form of spin-offs. Spin-off articles are simply articles you can write from your original article that have different angles or slants. By selling spin-offs to multiple markets, a writer can successfully stretch the work he’s put into his original article and make several sales from one basic idea.
Selling spin-offs is not that difficult, but it requires some planning upfront. When you have one market in mind you want to write a certain article for, before you begin your research, identify several other magazine markets that may serve as spin-off possibilities. Then, while you’re researching, keep these other markets in mind so you can capture the additional information you need for them at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll end up retracing your researching steps to put together the pieces you discover you’re missing down the road.
Realize that each article you write will have to be different enough that your first editor will not see it as competition to the one you wrote for her. Editors realize that we writers try to get the most mileage possible out of good research, so they are usually sympathetic to spin-offs. But at the same time, you won’t be helping your reputation any by making an editor mad at you.
To ensure that your spin-offs are not recognizable from your original, be sure to use completely different quotes from your sources (another reason to over-research the first time; you don’t want to go back to your expert for additional quotable material), make sure your slant is totally different than your original, change up your lead and close, and don’t recycle specific phrasing.
If you’re thinking, well, you might as well just write a brand-new article, you’re half right. It will–or should–end up looking like a brand-new article, but keep in mind you’re using the same research and material, just handling it with a different approach. Spin-offs should take much less time to write than your original article, and it can be a lot of fun to come up with creative ways to spin your topic.
You can even think outside the box a little when it comes to spin-offs by not limiting yourself to only spinning off new articles. You can also write fillers, sidebars, poems, or children’s activities from your original article and research. As you consider possible spin-off markets, don’t forget to look for places that buy such features for their magazines. This is a great way to stretch your idea!