Talking with Olga Mecking was a bit like chatting with myself 25 years ago when I was just a few years into my fledgling career as a freelance journalist. Olga is a polyglot, Polish by birth and living in the Netherlands with her German husband and three young children. She is totally dedicated to making it as a freelancer and her drive and passion make her the ideal role model for other new writers.
We meet in the coffee shop of The Hague’s Filmhuis and I almost miss her. I find her with her back to me, head bowed, reading a book on her iPad, sitting behind a pillar. But that’s typical of Olga I guess, for, despite living in the same city I have never bumped into her in the flesh so to speak. Online however, it is another story. That’s where I find her all the time.
I mentor new writers and have done so for more than ten years. Mostly they start by taking my Definite Articles course either online or in a live workshop and then I do my best to help them get a career off the ground, first with blogging, then writing articles for free and then moving to source hidden paid-for markets. I suggest my mentees and students write for six different places.
“I had been published in fewer than six, I think,” she tells me before taking a sip of her ginger tea. “Maybe six places but some of those were guest posts on other blogs.”
It is gratifying to find that the ‘rules’ I have been bashing my students over the head with for years still hold true and more gratifying still to discover that she, like me a few years ago, is pretty good at finding paying markets. Like me, she recognised that getting published, albeit for free, for a reputable publication would really give her career a leg up. My launchpad publication back in the 1980s was the Weekly Telegraph.
“I wanted to write for Huffington Post,” she explains. “They pay now by the way.”
Being able to say you have been published by a big name does wonders for the ego as well as the portfolio. Of course, Olga maintains her portfolio, over at OlgaMecking.contently.com and an impressive sight it is too. She began by blogging as EuropeanMama for seven years. She then moved up to being paid as a freelance and has three years under her belt.
“You need to read and write a lot,” she advises. “And to pitch and pitch. I have about three successes for every ten I send out and I try to pitch most days. Oh, and you need to think of yourself as a writer too.”
Now that is dedication, motivation and being serious about what she wants.
“It’s not just about pitching, though,” she continues. “You have to follow up once or twice too. I follow up first after a week. Many pieces were only picked up after my second follow-up call.”
We both agree that it’s vital a writer can ‘see where the stories are’. I believe that a writer can spot a paying market too. This is why Olga spends so much time online.
Like me, Olga gets bored quickly. She has found it hard to stay within one niche and finds the expat issue niche to be too limited. She rarely writes for EuropeanMama now. But one thing that never bores us is writing in any form or genre. Olga has produced an anthology of posts by bloggers in the Netherlands, called Dutched Up and has just translated her grandfather’s holocaust memoir into English. One Chance in a Thousand is now available on Amazon.
Writer | Mentor | Teacher | Publisher
'Sharing what I know to help others to grow.'
Jo Parfitt has published 31 books, helped more than 100 authors get into print and more than 1,000 to begin writing. She's an inspiring, compassionate and encouraging teacher.
Jo has run Summertime Publishing since 1997. She has lived abroad for almost 30 years – in France, Dubai, Oman, Norway, the Netherlands, Brunei and Malaysia. She specialises in inspiring others who write about expatriate issues.
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