Earlier this week, I told you that I am scheduled to speak to a group of freelance writers in Sacramento soon. I asked what you would want to hear from me if you were in that audience. Yesterday, I responded to someone who said that markets were always an issue for her—where to find new markets for your writing.
Another freelance writer told me in an email this morning that she has “zillions” of ideas and different slants on subjects and has no problem finding people to interview on the topics. But then she is sometimes unsure where to send the article.
I can see where that would be an issue for writers and I’ll be sure to cover that topic, too. Basically, that’s why I generally choose the market before I come up with the topic. Not always—sometimes a topic just begs to be explored. But if you know which publication you are going to approach with the idea before you write the article, you are free to slant the piece or your query letter to fit their particular requirements.
This writer says she is confused by the question, “What is your rate?” Don’t you hate when the editor of a magazine asks you that? If you quote a large amount, they may not even consider you. If you give them a lowball figure in order to get the work, you may be cheating yourself. It’s a problem! When I get that question, I begin researching that magazine’s typical pay scale. I have to admit it is not always easy to find this information. But if you can get an idea of what they generally pay—between 25 cents and 50 cents/word or $250 for a 1,200-word article or $125 to $500 for an article of between 1,000 and 5,000 words, for example—you have a starting place to work from. If you can’t locate that information anywhere—their listing in Writer’s Market or another magazine directory, at their website in their submission guidelines, etc.—ask them. Ask, “What is your typical pay scale for a 2,000-word piece on a trendy topic like this from an experienced freelancer?”
If you are left to wing it, consider what your goal with this magazine and this article is. Do you want to establish a relationship with this magazine? Do you need a certain amount for this particular piece in order to cover your time commitment and expenses? Look at the magazine—does it have a lot of advertisements, is it for an upscale or unique audience, or does it appear to be a home-grown magazine for a small readership? Do they look like they can afford to pay well or not? All of this could play into your decision on what to charge for your article.
Another issue for many, many freelance writers is how to organize our time. There’s a lot going on in a prolific freelancer’s office. That’s for sure. We’re juggling several ideas, magazines/ezines, interviews, invoicing, articles-in-progress, what to have for dinner, whether the piece we just finished will be accepted or rejected, when we’ll receive payment, keeping supplies on hand, etc. And many of you have an outside job, as well. So how does one keep it all organized? I’d like to hear from some of you on this subject.
I put it all in writing. I keep good records—I record everything. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it is, if you forget to log something, that’s the one that will be in question eventually. It’s a Murphy’s Law thing.
I also work from a written schedule every day. In the evening, I go over that day’s schedule. Those things that I didn’t get to, I roll over into the next day’s schedule. It has worked for me for years and years. If circumstances are such that I don’t get a schedule written (it happens but very, very rarely), I feel a little lost.
I appreciate those of you who have sent me your questions and shared with me the issues you face in your freelance writing businesses. I should be able to finish up an editing job I’m working on today and start outlining my speech. You have helped a lot.
There’s still time to chime in—what questions would you ask of a speaker on the topic of freelance article-writing. And what tips would you share with this group?
On a Personal Note
Did you notice the new review for Publish Your Book at Amazon.com? Thank you, Sandy. Did you see that one of my articles appeared in the IBPA Independent this month?