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How to Serve Your Client

How to Serve Your Client

Building Relationships
  Writing is a service profession. When we write content for a magazine, blog or website, we provide a service for our clients. That makes you, and me, servants. Do you have a servant heart? Do you go above and beyond to serve your editor or are you frequently counting the words to make sure you don't offer him more than you are getting paid for?   How to Serve Your Client When I send a query to a publication, I always include an idea for an optional sidebar--or two. When I write my article, I suggest sub-heads and quote-outs. And I work hard to formulate a compelling title and a great hook. If your editors frequently re-write your headlines or leads, figure out why and change how you do…
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Does a Freelance Writer Need a Website?

Does a Freelance Writer Need a Website?

Marketing, Portfolio
  As a freelance writer, I want to be able to find folks to interview. I wrote a story about blogging for hobby farmers. I was excited about this story because I could highlight some of my favorite blogs by interviewing those blog owners as experts. But I had some trouble. Where is your contact information, Tammi? You don't have a contact tab on your site. Nor do you have your email address in your sidebar. I thought I'd leave a comment on a post and ask you to get in touch with me, but your posts don't accept comments. I Googled you, tried your Amazon page, and even tried to find you on Facebook. I know you have a farm to run, but do you want to sell your…
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Check the Changes Your Editor Makes

Check the Changes Your Editor Makes

Craft
  This is one of my best tips, ya'll. And I'm giving it to you for FREE! What makes this one of my best tips? If you do what I'm going to share with you here, you will build a great working relationship with your editors so that they want you to write for them. Breaking in is easy, folks. Staying in is another story. When I started getting published, I wanted to know what changes the editors made to my stories. (Because I'm a geek that way.) I mean, what commas were they removing, which sentences were they rearranging, how were they changing my quotes? I still want to know. So, when I receive my contributor copies in the mail—after the happy dance, of course—I open the magazine to…
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Do You Know Your Reader?

Do You Know Your Reader?

Craft
One of the main reasons I reject story pitches I receive as editor of a regional lifestyle publication is that the story would not interest our readers. The clue is in the word regional. Our magazine covers a certain region of the country. I regularly receive pitches for articles about places to go and people to see outside of our region. Um, hello? If you don't know your geography, look at a map. Likewise, one of the most frequent edits I make in stories I receive is vocabulary. If I, a college-educated, middle-aged woman who studied three foreign languages and worked vocabulary workbooks for fun as a kid doesn't know what a word means, surely my average reader won't either. (FYI, the average American reads on a seventh-grade level.) Know…
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How to Write a Query Letter that Sells

How to Write a Query Letter that Sells

Finding Markets and Soliciting Work
    Breaking into freelance writing has a few hoops. One of those hoops is how to write a query letter. As an editor, I regularly receive pitches like the following: I know a mover and shaker in the dairy farm industry. How about a story about dairy farming? Because this guy told me he is a college student looking for work, I explained to him a little about how to pitch an idea. But if I received this pitch from a professional freelancer, it would be deleted, without delay. Does that sound harsh to you? Let me explain. My first question is, "What about dairy farming?" Do you want to write about the history of dairy farming? New technology used in dairy farming? The consequences of the latest laws…
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How to Make Your Editor Happy

How to Make Your Editor Happy

Building Relationships
  Many freelancers would pay money to be told How to Give an Editor What He Wants. But you don't have to because I'm going to give it to you for free. Why would I do that? I love teaching other folks what I've already learned. If you stop and think about it, it's a no-brainer and I can't bring myself to charge for no-brainers. Even after I tell you these two easy steps, I have huge doubts you will follow through. Did you catch that? There are two easy steps to giving an editor what he wants. Two! Ask, then deliver. That's it. Ask Honestly, all you have to do is ask an editor what types of stories he's looking for currently, and he'll tell you. Promise. I had…
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Batch Writing

Batch Writing

Productivity
I write different kinds of things for various clients. I write magazine articles. Some short, some long features. I write blog posts, my own and for other blogs. And I write emails. I also edit and proofread--magazine copy, websites and blog posts. In addition to writing and editing, I have email to answer--from several accounts. I have invoicing, research, phone calls, and a myriad other job duties. How do I get it all done? In batches. Once your brain gets into a gear, it's easier to just coast in that gear than it is to switch gears, mentally. (Picture coasting in 5th on the highway versus constantly shifting between 2nd and 3rd in city traffic.) In other words, your productivity is higher if you do a batch of blog posts…
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Are Your Stories Alive?

Are Your Stories Alive?

Craft
  Are your stories alive? Or are they boring narratives that no one wants to read? Here is an example: BORING The head chef said that the best way to get paper-thin slices of tomato is to use a sharp knife or a mandoline. ALIVE "Your knife must be sharp," said the head chef as he pinched thumb and forefinger together, sliding them through the air. "A dull knife smashes the skin of the tomato as it cuts and then you end up with something that may as well have been out of a can!" Three rules to making your story come alive: Interview people in person. If you must, use the phone but never email. You get your best quotes from conversation. You get your best descriptions face to…
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Thoughts on Deadlines

Thoughts on Deadlines

Building Relationships
I can approach deadlines from two perspectives--the freelancer and the editor. From the freelancer perspective, I need deadlines. I once had an editor that told me to send the story when I had it and she would work it in. Really? To this day, I don't understand how she managed her editorial content. But, the truth of the matter is that I ALWAYS put her projects on the bottom of my list because I didn't have a deadline. Once I have the deadline for a story in hand, I put it on my calendar a full month ahead. For instance, if my editor asks me to turn in the story by July 1, I put it down for June 1. Why would I do this? Because you never know. You…
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3 Secrets to a Productive Day

3 Secrets to a Productive Day

Productivity
Many writers struggle with productivity. No wonder. Distractions come at us from every angle, every hour of the day. If you work from home, the children vie for your attention. If you work online, Facebook disguises itself as a chocolate bar--tempting, tempting, tempting. Business coaches have seemingly bred like rabbits, all eager to tell us how to spend our time. Yet the activities they promise will "move our business forward" don't actually get our work done. Writers need to write. Putting pen to paper, so to speak, is what generates income. Posting to social media channels, writing our own blog posts, live streaming on Periscope, creating fremiums to build our email list, researching markets, while all worthwhile activities, do not pay the bills. Secrets to a Productive Day So what…
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