Congratulations! You cracked your target market. They bought your pitch, they published your article, and the check cleared. How do you maintain that momentum?
I love the one-off article because it encourages a diverse portfolio and growth in new directions, and fills in the between-assignment gaps and late payers all freelancers deal with. But, building relationships with publications you like to work for, and to whom you’ve demonstrated your competence, creativity, and reliability takes your career to the next level.
Tips that work for me:
This is common sense, but often freelancers fall short. Unless you drop dead, meet that deadline with polished, professional work. If you absolutely can’t, let them know early enough to re-assign the article. If they ask for edits, pay attention to what they want, any subtext, and meet the needs. If relevant, provide sheets for the fact checkers with correct source information, and let the sources know they may be contacted.
–Keep the on-line link handy. Create Word and PDF documents for your clip file, along with physical copies if it’s in print. Promote the piece on social media, your blog, and your website.
–If you quoted sources, send those sources a thank-you for their contribution, the link, and the clip for THEIR clip file. That is your job, not the publication’s job.
–Let the publication know that you did the above for your sources. Sometimes sources complain to the publication that they didn’t receive notification/tear sheets. Also, thank the publication for the opportunity.
–If appropriate, post the link on your online web portfolio platform. There are a variety of free and paid sites, including Contently.com, Clippings.me, etc.
–Timing is different for each publication. Some like regular contributions; others will publish someone once a quarter or six months or a year. Do your research. If they’ve had a good experience with you, they’ll want more.
–Pitch multiple pieces if the guidelines allow. Some publications like more than one option; some prefer a single pitch at a time. Do your research. With publications that like multiple pitches, they often hire me for ALL the ones I’ve pitched (3-5), and spread out the publication/payment over a period of months. That means you know you have X deadlines and you know you have X income during that time.
This is different than “networking.” Networking makes an initial connection to grow a mutually beneficial relationship. Kinkeeping is the next step. I write holiday cards, contact them with congratulations to other articles I liked, check in after a natural disaster, etc. You don’t want personal intrusion but you want to set up a relationship that is about more than money.
In the best situations, the above steps land me more “return” assignments. The editor thinks of me in relation to the editorial calendar. The editor assigns articles instead of waiting for pitches. When you hit that point with your editors, it pays off in the long- and short-term.
- Networking and “Subtle Promotion” on LinkedIn! By Elizabeth Armenta (WriterLiz, LLC)
- Networking Techniques That Work Fast and Pay Off Big! By David Geer
- People Need People:The Power of Networking By Kate Wicker
- Persistence and Networking! By Ramona Richards
Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in fiction and nonfiction, with six novels, dozens of short stories, and hundreds of articles to her names. She is also an internationally-produced playwright and radio writer. Her newest release is PLAYING THE ANGLES. Her blog is Ink in My Coffee: https://devonellington.wordpress.com.