Pssst… Want some free stuff?
I’m a regular contributor to Veloballs but don’t want my cover blown, as it may affect future letter writing success so I’m posting under a nom de plume. A bit like P.J Proby appearing on Opportunity knocks as ‘The Masked Singer’ but hopefully more successful as my mum named him in four seconds. So here goes. You can get free stuff from writing to magazines. Honest it’s easy money (or easy clobber/gadgets/books etc)
I’ve just bagged a new cycling helmet by being letter of the week in a certain cycling magazine.
I’ve got a confession to make. Genuinely needing a new helmet (I mean my old one was battered, I’m not looking to start a helmet wearing debate.) so instead of buying one I targeted the prize and went for it. I had to write seven letters over three months, three ended up on the letters page and a fourth was letter of the week.
In the words of Red Dwarf’s Lister, ‘Played for and got!’
Here’s my prize list for letter writing, it reads like a low budget version of The Generation Game’s conveyor belt. Oh look, another reference to seventies T.V. I was very young back then, honest! I wasn’t even old to have a Raleigh Chopper I had to make do with its smaller brother The ‘Chipper’. Anyway back to the list.
- A DVD and four different books from Focus magazine (Letter of the month five times)
- A camera gadget bag from Practical Photography
- Five bundles of cycling clobber from Cycling Active (after four identical prizes of Lycra I was cheeky and asked for a jacket and sunglasses instead and got them!) Letter of the month five times.
- A tin of hideously expensive of paint from a Home magazine.
- A pair of Michael Phelps trunks and goggles ( I mean the Phelps brand not a pair of his worn trunks… that would be so wrong!) from a Triathlon magazine… (proud of that one… wrote to them about not being able to do a triathlon as my swimming ability is shockingly bad.)
- Cycling Active also used to run open up the back page to freelancers. got paid real money for that one!
And finally, I never made letter of the month in another cycling magazine (I was trying to win a Garmin) but the editor sent me a personal reply and a book that he thought I’d be interested in as it was connected to the content of my letter.
After my latest helmet success I’m going to retire for the time being, so here’s a few tips
- Buy the magazine, this may seem obvious but a couple of times I’ve been a cheapskate and flicked through the magazine in the supermarket, photographed the contact details gone home and wrote the letter. These do normally get printed but not the star letter, you need to study the whole magazine to get the feel for what the editor wants to read.
- Either – Find an article that interests you and write about how it relates to you/cheered you up etc include some humour if the subject warrants it
- Or – Write a humorous account of a personal story that is linked to the magazines content.
- Do research, my letters to Focus (the BBC science magazine) have responded (intelligently and humorously I hope) to Nuclear power, Time Travel and environmental issues, (entering smug mode – the editor even emailed me back once before it was printed to say what a brilliant letter it was.)
- Proof read it several times (I often alter it 6 or 7 times)
- Email it. Don’t bother posting it, it doesn’t make difference at all and its a lot easier.
I’m led to believe magazines do not receive bulging post bags every month, probably only 200 letters at most so if yours is well written and informative its already halfway there.
Hope this helps you restock your cycling wardrobe. I’m off to buy a classic car magazine to see if I can win a Porsche.