Monday, August 20, 2012

Last week I spoke at our Voices Third Thursday meeting on how to make a career as a freelancer. So, I thought I would share a few tips about how to be a good freelancer and keep those assignments rolling in: 
  • Respect deadlines. Turning in an assignment late -- especially more than once -- makes editors grumpy and lessens the chances they will turn to you for future assignments.
  • Be familiar with the publication. This means reading a few issues and understanding the various departments, the tone, the focus and the kind of content they publish.
  • Pitch the right contact/editor. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly who that is, but at least check out the masthead or even the website where there are often submission guidelines. If it’s still unclear, you can always call and ask.
  • Accept edits and rewrites. Don’t be offended if the editor asks you to rework a piece. That’s part of the business and will help you develop thick skin. Use it as an opportunity to learn some new writing techniques.
  • Follow AP Style (or the publication’s preferred style). Most newspaper and magazines follow Associated Press style rules so familiarize yourself with those. Editors are happy when they don’t have to edit a ton of style (and grammar) errors. And happy editors give you more assignments.
  • Make yourself invaluable. Act like part of the team even if you aren’t technically on staff. Become that go-to freelancer who meets deadlines, writes clean copy, pitches good ideas and is pleasant. 

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