This is How You Create Work Opportunities for Yourself


James Swanwick

You’re about to see a GREAT example of how one of my readers is generating work opportunities.

Seattle-based Daniel Vu subscribed to my newsletter in June 2013, and completed my Insider Journalism Secrets program in December. He emailed me last week to tell me he’s been using the strategies I outline in the book and audio interviews. And because of that, Daniel says, he’s now given himself a chance to get paid work from two online magazines.

I’m going to let Daniel tell you his story first. Then we’re going to look at screen shots of Daniel’s exact email and twitter correspondence with the online publishers, and dissect what worked. Take it away, Daniel:


James Swanwick Student
Daniel Vu

“James, I hope you wouldn't mind a progress report of what's going on so far. Using the strategies you talked about in Insider Journalism Secrets and your previous advice on investigating, I watched a recent episode of Vice on YouTube about the crisis in South Sudan. I found the reporter's Twitter (the one who appeared on the episode) and cold Tweeted him a question on how he got the job. By pure luck, the Editor in Chief of Vice tweeted to me instead and referred to me to pitch story ideas to the Features Editor based in Los Angeles. I got his email, and sent him a couple story ideas. A day later, he asked if he could see some writing samples after he thanked me for the story ideas. I gave him my writing portfolio via my blog and some posts I've done so far. I haven't heard from him yet but sent him another couple of story ideas. Will update more on that!”

Click, below, to enlarge the screenshot of Daniel’s twitter exchange…

Daniel Vu twitter screenshot 3

Let me tell you what I like about this. Daniel took action. He watched the video and reached out to the reporter.

The reporter didn’t exactly give him much in that first tweet. Daniel could have let it go and been discouraged. But he didn’t. He kept going.

And when he did, he got a name. He got a contact. He then followed up and now he’s in consideration for a paid gig. Great work, Daniel!

Later, Daniel messaged me to tell me about another work opportunity he’d created.

Take it away again, Daniel:

“James, I applied your strategies to an up and coming publishing startup and not only was the CEO impressed, he offered a slot for the next issue coming out! Not paid and I’m not out of the darkness yet, but without your book and help, I wouldn't have gotten a foot at the door for this one.”

Click, below, to enlarge the screenshot of Daniel's correspondence

how to get work in journalism

How to get work oportunities

Again, I love what Daniel has done here. As you can see, he’s introduced himself, he’s suggested story ideas, he’s pointed out a spelling mistake to them (Editors love this), he sounds passionate and knowledgeable. This is why he is in the game.

If I were to find any fault in Daniel’s game, it would be that he started this email talking about himself too early. I would have probably written the email like this…

“Hi, I’m long-term reader Daniel Vu and I loved your article on [insert reference to an article written by the person you’re contacting here]. I’m a writer myself and thought your readers would also be interested in these story ideas because [insert reason here]:

1. [insert story suggestion here]

2. [insert story suggestion here]

3. [insert story suggestion here]

Here’s some background on me: [insert background here].”

In my version, I’ve started the conversation by praising the editor and speaking about him.

THEN I talk about me. You may only get two seconds to grab the attention of an editor you’re cold emailing. So you better make it as much about THEM as you can.

Create opportunity

Now, in this particular situation with Daniel, his email was good enough. Daniel took action and that’s all that matters. He made things happen. He created opportunity. He’s in the game.

This proves again that your chances of success increase when you simply take action. Any action is better than nothing.

Now…what if Daniel had done what MOST aspiring writers do, and simply emailed his resume with a request for work? What if he’s emailed that resume in without story suggestions and without displaying a basic knowledge about that media organization?

I bet nothing. Someone there would have read it and hit delete or ignore. Or maybe not read it at all. But Daniel offered value. Daniel suggested story ideas.

Daniel had researched the organization, found the appropriate contact, started the dialogue and taken action. Daniel followed all the steps I teach in Insider Journalism Secrets.

And it worked. Great work, Daniel! Keep that up and you’ll go far in this game.

I’ll be sharing more success stories from my readers in the weeks ahead.

Until then, keep creating opportunities for yourself!



What do YOU think about how Daniel played that game? How are YOU going to play a similar game to get yourself work? I want to know your action plan.

Do you have examples of making this work? Send them to me! Leave your comments below this post and let’s get the conversation going. I read every post.

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