Freelance Writer Now has the word “now” in the title because many people don’t realize they need a writer until the last-minute and then they want one “NOW!” It takes a talent, planning, skill and professionalism to deliver great writing on time. I am proud that I was asked to meet what I thought were impossible deadlines and create articles that withstand the test of time.
A few months ago, I received an email on a Tuesday that a major publisher wanted to interview me for freelance writing work. We talked on the phone on Wednesday and she asked me how long it usually takes to write a feature article.
I told her when I interview three experts sources it usually takes about a week.
“Fine can you have three of these articles by next Friday?” she asked.
This it was a new client for a major source and she also added that I could use articles written before or people I interviewed before.
As the panic set in, I realized I had to get smarter in how I wrote my articles and also contact the sources with public relations representatives who I knew could deliver.
Long-time public relations specialists know that when they are called upon to get a source on deadline and they will get what I need on time
For the interviewing process, I developed a system offering available times to sources and also keeping track of the multiples available times. By the following week, I had interviewed over ten sources.
Things have changed greatly through my career as a freelance writer. After the advent of email, you would think would make things easier. But what email does, is it creates a situation in which emails get forwarded and moved around and not answered immediately. The best way to get responses is to follow up with a phone call.
If there is a company without a phone number, it gives me a reason not to contact that company. It indicates that I will not be able to get a response in the time needed. It also indicates that the company doesn’t have the knowledge that phone numbers are very important communication tools.
Inexperienced public relations people will ask for me to write-up all the questions to send to the client. This never works. Because I have found it takes me two to three times longer to write-up the questions then it does to ask the questions during a telephone interview. On top of that, the answers that are generally received are group think answers by the PR rep and who knows who else and don’t make sense. The answers then require a separate phone interview to get straightened out.
Getting back to my assignment to complete three full-length feature articles by the following week.
I chose to contact the people who I knew would return my email and my calls. I chose public relations companies that I already had a strong relationship with. I also was able to pick the topics that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on who to figure out who to contact.
When I first started writing in the last century and contacting media relations staff they would ask, “What is your deadline?”
With a new influx of text-oriented younger people, they don’t ask about deadlines. They also tend to ask a lot of questions for information that is work for me.
I was able to handle the darn-near impossible deadline situation by stating that the matter was urgent and that I had to have the interview completed by a certain date. I contacted extra sources as backup.
The next phase of the process is a skill that makes my articles sparkle. After I interview three resources, I shuffle everything they said to me in my head to make it clear to the reader what three experts impart that you cannot get anywhere else on a blog or from a single source.
I find talking to experts fascinating and fun. What they don’t realize is that I know what competing experts have said on the same topic.
Experts tend to be people who have a vast amount of knowledge but don’t necessarily know how to frame that knowledge in a way for the general public to understand it.
My job as a freelance writer is to take complex information from multiple sources and then take all the ingredients and bake into the most incredible “pie” of knowledge that you can savor.
Another thing, I learned from this experience is that it is best to find out the exact style of the publication. Originally it was stated that the publication used AP Style.
When I wrote for Investor’s Business Daily, they always use said for direct quotes and says for indirect quotes.
The media group preferred the entire article to be in the same tense. When looked at the media outlets there were multiple styles used. Then I asked for a style guide and was told that freelancers do not have access to their style guide.
I called a longtime friend and publisher o ask what I should do.
“If they’re paying you. Give them what they want,” she said.
After hundreds of thousands of hours of writing for these many years I can write in any style you want it just takes me a little time to figure out your style guide
By the second round of articles, I had mastered their writing style as well as their editing style. Today, editors don’t have the time to edit therefore they want somebody who can write and then edit their own work
The way I do this is I need the article written a few days before it is due and then I need to come back and look at the article with editors eyes as opposed to writers eyes.
The most important things about getting articles done on time and in the style requested are discipline and advanced planning.
We live in a last-minute society. Last minute texting, doesn’t work for writing feature articles. The interviews need to be completed a week or more before the due date. I need to write-up my notes in a computerized text format after the interview, so I remember everything the subject tells me.
I need to check the correct spelling and the title of the source from the source as well as spend time cleaning up the actual wording.
I like to think that publishers and hire me because of these benefits that I deliver:
- Get articles written on a tight deadline.
- Match the style of the publication.
- Use excellent sources.
- Check facts.
- Fascinating new information that is totally original and not regurgitated from web sources.
In this new year, I hope that you find the information you need in a way that you can understand it easily. If there is any way I can provide that for you let me know.