Quick Tip: Use Media Directories to Find Freelance Writing Clients

For this week's quick tip, I'd like to bring up an oldie but goodie -- a tip I've been passing along to freelance writers for years, coming from my background in PR.

Instead of using the same writer's market lists that most other freelancers are also using, find new prospects in media directories instead. 

How Media Directories Are Different

Media directories are similar to writer's market directories in that you can find a list of publications, sorted by industry, and sometimes including editors' names and direct contact information. They're used by PR professionals for media relationships campaigns.

The main benefit of using media directories to find new freelance clients is the fact that they're much more comprehensive than most writer's market lists. For example, Cision's database boasts 1.9 million "contacts, outlets, and opportunities" compared to the 9000 listings at WritersMarket.com -- which includes book publishers, not just outlets for freelance writing pitches.

You can find newspapers, magazines, and in some cases online and broadcast media outlets (which are often under-tapped markets that need writers). You'll find potential clients most of your competitors won't ever think to pitch.

The downside is that media directories can be costly for freelance writers. But if you can't afford tools from companies such as Vocus, Cision, or BurrellesLuce, no worries. There are other resources you can tap first, sometimes for free. Just know that these free resources aren't always as up-to-date, and they might involve more legwork on your part, such as linking you to each publication's site rather than giving you all of the details right in the directory.

Free and Affordable Media Directory Resources

If you'd like to introduce larger media directories into your prospect-hunting process, here are a few to get you started. All of these examples are free except for the one from MediaBistro.com.

  • The Alliance for Audited Media Member Roster -- a segmented list of publications including newspapers and magazines (with links to their websites where you can usually find contact info)
  • MondoTimes.com -- an extensive, and free, database of media outlets including newspapers, magazines, and broadcast outlets
  • The Internet Public Library -- a link directory pointing you to newspapers (sorted geographically) and magazines
  • TradePub.com -- a directory of trade magazines
  • MediaBistro's Mastheads -- an alphabetical collection of magazine mastheads available to paying AvantGuild members
  • Library subscriptions -- some libraries subscribe to one or more media databases (it might violate their license to use it for commercial purposes, but you can browse them to get an idea of the kind of information offered)

Do you already use media directories to find new freelance prospects? Tell us about your favorites in the comments (that is, if you don't mind sharing).

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12 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Use Media Directories to Find Freelance Writing Clients”

  1. Thanks, Jenn, for sharing this info. When I first got started in trade magazines, my library carried Bacon’s. Then, Bacon’s went out of print (errr). So this is like manna from heaven! :))

    • I don’t know if they were taken over, merged, or what, but Bacon’s ended up with Cision. So the database should still exist, just under a different name. 🙂 My library carries Gale’s directory of print and broadcast media outlets. I used to be a fan of Burrelles, but I haven’t used theirs in years, so I’m not sure if it would still be my preference now. Because I’m no longer in the PR game for clients and I don’t take the querying approach for the vast majority of my freelance gigs, I don’t actually use this tactic much. I’m just surprised more freelancers don’t know about some of these resources. Hopefully now they will. 🙂

  2. Hi Jen! You just made my life easier! Thanks for these awesome deets! I always come back to sites who offers tips, stories, resources for freelancers like me so expect me to be a constant visitor:-) Speaking of these, I also fancy infographics like this one about freelancers and how it really is to be one. Hope you won’t mind me sharing the link here

    Thanks again Jen!

  3. Jennifer .. Thank you SO MUCH for this article. I was researching where I could get magazine editor contact information at a reasonable price and stumbled upon your article. After reviewing the various services you mentioned, I’ve decided to get the Mondo Times Advanced Membership. Thank You ~ JoAnne


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