I am coming up on a year of working in LA startups as an all around copywriter. Whether it’s a social media post, an email campaign, or an internal announcement, I’m writing…but not what I want to write about. I took a cue from the actors around me who work other jobs until they get the one they really want, and dove into freelance writing on the side.
I knew I was interested in writing about life with a personal angle, the opposite of what I do in the offices. So, I did my homework and began looking into publications that were looking for what I was offering. Then, with a bit of luck which is always needed to land the right thing, I found a site that was in the launch stages, and recruiting writers regardless of experience, as long as they liked what they read.
I submitted some samples, and got accepted fairly quickly. I was excited, and happily typing away until I got an email – they were focusing on quantity and would be cutting the pay per article by almost half. At that point I had submitted five pitches that were pending approval, and reluctantly said yes. After all I hadn’t been published before, there was still pay and I was hoping I could renegotiate down the line.
They responded with a contract. All five pitches had been approved. I took a minute and thought:
1. I was lucky enough that this wasn’t my main source of income. By not depending on writing, I could be a little more selective just as they could be since they had a lot of writers willing to work for them.
2. They clearly valued my quality, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much.
So, I contacted the Editor in Chief and laid out my case. I showed my real interest in who they were and what they did. I explained I was committed to developing a long term partnership, especially as they grew out their site. I also acknowledged that what they were asking for was more than an article, it was my personal experiences, input and time – something I and a lot of people who recruit writers sometimes fail to realize.
She responded literally in two minutes that she understood, and would talk to the Creative Director. We negotiated a higher rate and I’ve been off to the races writing articles ever since.
I’ll be honest, it’s not as steady work as I might like since I can tell they’re mitigating my pitches in favor of cheaper articles from time to time. But, I’m secure in knowing that they value me and when the need for quantity falls away, I’ll remain.
My approach has changed in picking up new opportunities as well. By focusing on building a relationship with those I write for, and maintaining my worth as a writer, I have a career in freelance writing. I’m not just writing whatever comes my way.
Christine Park is a UCLA graduate with a major in English.
The Art and Craft of Writing and Editing
Writing is a constant dialogue between author and reader.
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