Wednesday 19 October 2011

Some tips on writing for a living

For over 20 years I have worked as a freelance writer. In that time I have written for many different publications on so many different topics - football, vegetarianism, humour and lifestyle pieces. I've done them all. Check out some of my published articles here

1. That's why my first tip would be to that you need to DIVERSIFY. Don't think that you can just specialise in one topic and that will be enough to make you a living. You must be able to write about anything even topics that you didn't have a clue about until you did your research.

2. You haven't been paid until you've been paid. Don't spend money you don't have. Trust me, publications can take ages to pay and sometimes they need reminding. Always be polite.

4. Editors are a fickle lot. They change their minds all the time. One minute they love your ideas and will say things like 'we'll take it to a features meeting' or 'these are great.' The next they are ignoring your emails or telling you 'we decided to go with another feature.' Until you have a firm commmission stating work count, what should be in the piece, the fee and the deadline DON'T treat it as a commission.

5. Try and have as many ideas out at one time. DON'T pin your hopes on one one or two. Remember mud sticks. Throw as much mud as you can.

6. Improve your chances by offering a pictures and words package. Editors love these as these pieces can be used quickly. Make sure pictures are at least 300dpi and of good quality. Get yourself a decent camera.

7. Follow the brief to the letter (the commissioning email). Don't make the piece too long, too short and make sure you know if the ed wants box offs (boxed off pieces of information).

8. Look up for special dates coming up. Many editors struggle to get new material for say Valentine's Day and Halloween. Help them out and do it way ahead of time. Around 4 months if aiming at a monthly and 4 weeks if aiming at a daily newspaper (allow three times that for a weekly magazine).

9. Study publications before you submit ideas. A movie magazine is not going to be interested on a piece on flower arranging.

10. Never give up no matter how many nos you get. Some of my best ever yeses have come when I was on a losing streak.

Good luck and get writing.
Note - I also have writing tips on my blog.

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