Trade journals often compete for advertising dollars. After writing for a trade journal for a decade, I became an industry expert and quite in demand among the competitors.
But after 10 years of covering trade shows and connecting with my readers, the business relationship ended when I was asked to stop writing for another media company whose readership overlapped so slightly with that of the other company. They didn’t want to see my name in the other publication.
What to do? Both comprised nearly 40 percent of my income. The other media company had no problem with me writing for whomever I wanted – they understood the nature of freelance writing. Because of that attitude, I’ve always given them first dibs on article ideas.
I severed my relationship with the first company and continue to write for the second. I sent clips to a smaller competitor in the trade and was contacted by an editor eager to work with me. I recouped the lost income and we had a great relationship – until he died.
A battle ensued over this family-owned magazine between his wife and son. She begged me to stay, guaranteeing four stories monthly.
The son told me she lacked business experience and wanted me to write for his start-up, adding he could only finance two stories monthly.
I followed the money trail. That lasted three months before her magazine “disappeared”, along with pay owed me.
Here I was again – all of this industry knowledge and nowhere to go. But this wasn’t about personalities, it was about experience. The son embraced me, the “prodigal writer”, because he knew the value of knowledge.
When faced with having to choose between competitors, consider advertising share, circulation and the magazine’s standing within the industry. When all else fails, go with experience, as the editor does when hiring you.
Carol Brzozowski is a veteran freelance writer specializing in trade journals. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Carol resides in south Florida.