I'm starting to get more clips (it seems like a snowball effect) and I am landing a couple of magazine assignments each month, which inspires me to pitch more, etc. At some point of course I'd love to quit my 9-5 and be able to pay for my own health insurance. My question is, how did you transition to freelancing full-time and do you set a weekly goal for pitching magazine pieces - i.e. this week I'll pitch five stories - or any other tips you have on how to keep the snowball rolling, and growing.
I was in a very fortunate position in that I didn't really have a "full-time job" when I started freelancing. Rather, I'd co-launched an internet company that was eventually sold (sadly, after the internet bubble popped), and I retained a lot of our clients as freelance clients. So...I never really faced the "can I leave my current job" situation because I poached from my current well of work and kept working for them.
But, more to your point, I think a weekly goal is a must. In fact, one of my writer's groups frequently has Pitch Challenges, in which teams try to pitch as many places/editors as they can, and then score points for each story landed. If five a week works for you, and is bringing in steady work, then by all means, keep it up.
I think the hardest thing, in terms of volume, is coming up with new ideas. So don't forget that each idea doesn't have to be "new." It might be a spin on an idea that you're already pitching...or a spin on a story that you've already written. Whenever I'm interviewing an expert for a piece, I try to weed out some tangents or nuggets that might be used elsewhere - I often end up using only a small percentage of the actual interview for the first story, and why let all of that good info go to waste? Of course, it also helps to scour the web (and newspapers, etc) to stay on top of all the breaking research and trends. I've found that often times, even when I'm totally creatively-zapped, digging around some breaking news might help me muster up a gem of an idea.
So readers, how many pitches do you aim to shoot off each week? Is there a method to your madness?