I was impressed when the irrigation company was so customer friendly in designing my new sprinkler system. So one day, while discussing the project with their representative, I asked if they’d be interested in an interview. Sure, they said, impressed with my credentials as a “freelance writer.” While those inside the business realize that freelance means scrambling for a byline and some semblance of a check, civilians still admire a writer with a camera.
My research for a magazine that accepted landscape, lawn or irrigation pieces resulted in TURF Magazine, a trade publication for irrigation specialists. The sample copy arrived soon enough, and I pitched my story. The editor asked for samples of my work and gave me the nod if I included pictures.
I threw a camera on my husband and dragged him along to the formal interview. We had soft drinks, met in the conference room, and cut up about grass catastrophes, the lawn care companies from hell, and exploding sprinkler heads. Hubby snapped a few pictures with our digital camera, and we left.
The editor loved the piece. With the assignment having been so seamless and uneventful, I surfed the Net one night wondering what else would be written about “grass.” This editor was worth a steady relationship. I found a grass rooftop on a college dormitory in a nearby city and a foundation that preserved historical cemeteries, including the lawn maintenance.
Off went an email to the editor. Back came acceptance of both suggestions. In a week, I scheduled both interviews, snapped pictures and completed the assignments. The check arrived two weeks later for both pieces.
This sequence of events covered a three-month time span. Three articles in three months equates to three checks. My relationship with TURF Magazine was a success story. But the story continued to spin. While visiting the irrigation company for more watering heads for my new shrubs, I asked if the salesman had seen his company’s interview in the magazine. He flashed me a copy with a big smile on his face. Cool, I thought. People are happy from what I did. He placed a call to the gentleman I interviewed for the piece to let him know I was in the shop.
Out walks not only the employee I interviewed, but the owner of this company. Both grinned ear-to-ear and heaped gobs of praise on me. I’d been the first interviewer who’d gotten the facts straight. “Best interview we’ve ever had,” were the words he used. The owner shook my hand and reminded me that his company also did elaborate fountains not only for homeowners but businesses and corporate entities. “We’d appreciate it if you considered a piece about that arm of our company.”
“Sure,” I said. That evening an email went to my editor.
“I’m forwarding your proposal to the editor of Landscape Construction Magazine,” she said. “I’ll introduce you to that editor.”
Twenty-four hours later I had another assignment – for my fourth article.
Nurturing relationships in the writing business can result in full-circle writing – opportunities that come back to you. Consider these lessons when pondering writing assignments and you might seed, fertilize and grow subsequent assignments that lead to regular work.
1. Be nice to everyone. Your writer’s eye works in every aspect of your life. You never know who you meet in relation to your child’s school, your day job or your personal hobby that could result in an intriguing proposal for a publication.
2. Exceed the editor’s expectations. Submit more photos, beat the deadline, write all the captions and suggest ideas for headers and layout.
3. Thank the editor along the way.
4. Thank the interviewee and follow-up when the article appears in print to make sure he/she has a copy. In one case, I asked the editor to mail additional copies of the magazine to the subject of the interview.
5. Pitch new ideas quickly on the heels of a successful piece. The editor has warm-fuzzy feelings for you at this point.
6. Reconsider old interviewees for new articles and new publications. You’ve already made the connection, and they know you are good at what you do.
Writing with a full-circle in mind not only perpetuates opportunities for your career, but also makes your life easier. Working with the same editors, the same subject matter and even the same interviewees can simplify your world and enhance your reputation.
C. Hope Clark is a full-time freelance writer and founder of FundsforWriters.com. She is also author of The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success.
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