A coworker told me she wanted to freelance but she had no idea what to pitch. So I told her, you have to look at a few magazines and figure out what they want or what they will publish. Then you search your mental database for anything that will fit into that scope.
If they publish a lot of articles on food, drink and raising children, you know that anything written about those three will probably be something they may be interested in. So, here are my tips:
How to Freelance
1. Read a few magazines, preferably ones you want to write for.
Find out what they want. Ask the editor for guidelines and if s/he has any advice for new writers trying to break in. If not, read a couple of issues and see the style and content they want.
2. Narrow focus.
Look at the departments in each magazine as well as feature stories and think of the ideas you could pitch. Then pare them down to ideas that interest you and you can execute in a timely manner. You should have a couple of ideas that could make this round.
3. Write a query with a hook.
What will make them want the story now? If it's timely, then use it. Is it a growing trend? Then say that. Write a one-page equivalent pitch letter with a tempting hook. In it, address any concerns or questions an editor might have. Also make sure it's well-written so an editor can get an idea of your writing style and abilities.
4. Do another pitch.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If you took the time to get to know the magazine, chances are more ideas will pop into your head. Send them out when possible.