The following is a guest post from Denene Brox.
Freelance writers work hard to build up a solid portfolio of clips. It can take months or even years to build strong working relationships with editors. When a new editor or client gives you that first assignment, it’s important to nail it so that the editor is eager to work with you again – hopefully month after month.
I have written regularly for a number of publications – many of them approach me with regular assignments. In fact, my biggest client last year, which accounted for about 50 percent of my income, was a client I've never pitched once (other than an initial introduction letter). How did I get to the point where I don’t have to query certain editors?
Here is all you need to know to keep your editors coming back.
Meet Your Deadlines
At one time I found this hard to believe but there are many unreliable writers out there who turn in late assignments or just go M.I.A. on their editors. The good news is this makes it easy for the rest of us to get and stay on an editor’s go-to list of writers. Be that writer who turns in assignments on time. Score extra points if you submit your assignments ahead of deadline.
The last thing an editor wants to do is scramble to replace a writer. So maintaining communication is vital. If you’re going to be late or can’t complete an assignment for any reason, be sure to communicate with your editor.
My editors know that when they give me an assignment it will be in their inbox by the deadline. And I know that by being consistently reliable I am greatly increasing my chances for future assignments.
Don’t Fuss Over Edits
Busy editors don’t want to put up with ego-driven writers who fight them about every small editing request. Whenever one of my editors asks me to make changes to an article, I gladly do it. I have no creative attachments to the articles that I write, so editing is a breeze. Besides, I’ve never had an editor make an unreasonable editing request.
Take my advice: Stay on the editor’s favorite writer list by making editing a no-fuss affair.
Don’t take creative liberties with article assignments. Most of my articles are for trade magazines and I must follow the specifications given by my editor for the article. Writers who turn in stories off-topic and miss word counts don’t get offered future assignments. Editors like to do minimal edits. If they have to totally rework your story every time, don’t be surprised if they stop calling.
Know Your Reader
Always keep your readers in mind when writing articles. When writing for consumer publications things like age, race, geographical location, and income are all important reader characteristics to keep in mind. If you’re writing for a business audience, what are their business problems and how will your article help them overcome them?
If you can write specifically for the publication’s audience, you’ll be an editor’s dream. A trade editor recently told me that a writer who understands her publication’s target reader is more valuable than a writer with lots of experience.
Keep these tips in mind as you’re building your portfolio and you’ll soon have lots of repeat business from happy editors.
How do you maintain relationships with editors for repeat assignments? What tips would you give a new freelance writer to help them make a long-lasting impression with editors?
About Denene Brox
Denene Brox has been a freelance writer for more than six years. She’s based in Kansas Cityand specializes in career development and health topics. She is also the webmaster of Freelance-Write-Now.com, a site that teaches beginners how to get started in freelance writing. Download her free step-by-step guide, How to Write a Magazine or Online Article, for more tips on writing winning articles.
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