Seven practices to give yourself a bonus!
ASK FOR A BETTER CONTRACT
Ask for a better contract when you’re giving up too many rights, you can’t figure out what you’re getting paid or when, or you are an authority or have a demonstrable specialty. Just ask, “Do you have a better contract?” Let them ask you why you want it. Be prepared with an answer. They may not ask. They may ritually give better contracts only to those who ask. It can be as simple as that.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENTS
If you see an expense reimbursement clause, use it. Adhere to the publication’s instructions on how to get reimbursed. Items taken seriously include phone charges for interviews or research; postal mailing charges; travel expenses (discuss before signing) and costs for other goods or services vital to the assignment. Don’t forget to invoice separately.
ASK FOR A RAISE AFTER FOUR ARTICLES
The consensus seems to be that if you have turned in about four acceptable pieces without a hitch, you have just become a known quantity, a measurable asset, and probably worth paying more to keep. Here’s a little secret. Call at 10 a.m. on hump day (Wednesday). Your editor has had time for coffee and it’s mid-week. He or she isn’t getting over Monday or looking longingly for Friday’s arrival. Call and say hello. Ask how they’re doing. Confident and cool, in mid-conversation, just say “I want to negotiate a raise.”
PITCH A FOLLOW-UP OR SERIES
Be aware of related stories that break just as your piece is being published or thereafter. Get the story and pitch a follow-up or series, first to the same publication, then as a scoop on that publication to their competitors if they refuse to publish it. In your query, cite not only the first article but also its popularity by sharing reader mail. When writing the piece, compare information from the first story – this will enlarge the readership for both.
TURN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS INTO PROFILES
You take an informational interview for an assignment. You already know a lot about the person. Depending on their import, fame or popularity, you may be able to publish their profile in a national magazine. If not, you shouldn’t find it difficult to publish in a smaller magazine or better-paying newspaper. Properly written, profiles don’t become dated as easily as other stories, and that’s nothing a minor revision won’t cure anyway. This built-in “freshness guarantee” means you can pitch profiles endlessly until you get published and paid!
KEEP A JOURNAL AS YOU WRITE AND WRITE YOUR MOST INTERESTING EXPERIENCES INTO SALABLE CONTENT
By keeping a journal of your professional writing life, you store up a slew of material for courses on writing, or even a book! More than memoirs, these slices of your writing adventures can become articles, features, fiction, or meat for your bio or query letters. Journaling is impassioned, eager writing about what you know well. You generate twice the material with zero research and then you can cherish it, learn from it and get paid for it too!
YOUR EDITOR, YOUR FRIEND, YOUR NEXT LEAD!
On one occasion when calling an editor who I really hit it off with, I got a lead right away to write adjacent material for the editor’s friend! Another time I queried an editor who, unbeknownst to me, happened to work in a building full of editors in a publishing district. She gladly volunteered to give my information to all the other editors in the building! The lesson here is to be proactively personable with editors.
David Geer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is American, 40 years old, single, with a BA in Psychology. A computer technician by trade, he is now a full-time freelancer. David’s specialties include technology (computers & IT, wireless, Nanotechnology, general), features, research, PR writing, speeches, Web hosting, fitness, How to, general interest, psychology, music and creative writing. Clips include Computer Buyer’s Guide and Handbook, Wireless Business & Technology, Smart Computing, Hostingtech and PR Fuel. David pumps weights at the local “Y” 3 times a week. Also a fan of TV and movies, David’s professional home on the Web can be found at: http://geercom.com