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Sunday, April 15, 2012

And Let the Writer for Hire Promotion Begin...Hot Freelance Tip of the Day

My new book, Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success, was published last week by Writer's Digest (several weeks ahead of schedule.) For the next six weeks, make sure you're tuning in here regularly. I'll be blogging regularly, sharing lots of practical strategies and freelance advice, doing guest posts on some awesome freelancing blogs you should know about (if you don't already), and doing giveaways as well.

Every post, I'll share a Hot Freelance Tip of the Day, which will likely tie in with one my 101 secrets

Today's tip? If you're a new writer, pitch a market, whether it's a print magazine, an online publication, or a blog, that you can write for more than once

First, it's much easier to pitch ideas to a client who has worked with you before. My queries to my regular magazine clients often consist of just a few lines. Here's an example of a pitch I sent to my editor at The Writer 18 months ago: 

Hi, Sarah!

Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season and cold weather, first off. I have six ideas for the next batch of Freelance Success stories, below. Let me know what you think of them, and if you want any more details about these brief blurbs:

*How to turn a one-time client into a “regular” (impressing the client with your work, pitching other ideas immediately, delivering more than you’re asked for, etc)
*When is it time to cut ties with a client (how to know when, how to handle it, weighing what a client is worth)
*To blog or not to blog (from a writer’s perspective—having a purpose for a blog, how often to update, etc)
*Asking for more money—how to do it (with sample scripts, negotiating advice, how to not burn bridges if the client says no)
*Getting serious about freelancing (what separates hobbyists from professionals…I can do a tax tie-in if you want, but this can also be about attitude and treating your writing like a business)
*Getting into ghostwriting (what to keep in mind, how to find and work with clients, what skills you must have)—this one would have to run after July, 2011 per my contract with Writer’s Digest

Thanks, Sarah, and I’ll talk to you soon!

All my best,

See how informal this pitch is? I don't have to do all the background reporting I would do if I were pitching a new market. Second, someone I've worked with before is much more likely to say "yes" to my pitch (assuming I did a good job the first time out). In this case, my editor assigned four of the six ideas in my pitch, which cuts my marketing time even more.

Get the idea? It's much more efficient to work with a small stable of clients than to constantly be pitching new markets--even though pitching is part of your job. [See Secret #19: Market constantly.]   

Now, back to the giveaway. This first one is...drumroll...a free, signed copy of Writer for Hire! Gee, what an awesome idea, huh? To enter, post a comment below that includes a question you have about freelancing. I'll announce the first giveaway winner by the end of April. 


  1. This idea makes so much sense, Kelly. Originally, I was very focused on needing to show a wide variety of clips and realized that having many from one publication actually says a lot, including that an editor likes to work with me. Along those lines, how often do you think it's acceptable to reach out to the same editor/contact in the manner above? While I like having a relationship with an editor, I worry about seeming like that person that is "always sending me an email". Thanks for your insights!

  2. Thanks for the tip, Kelly! I always learn so much from you. My question: After sending out the initial query, how long should you wait before following up if you have not heard back? I know there's a fine line between following up too soon and looking anxious, and waiting too long to check back. And is it the same amount of time for every market, or does it vary? Thanks!

  3. Hi Kelly!

    Thanks for the giveaway and congratulations on the new book. I must confess that I often enjoy pitching more than the act of writing the (commissioned) article itself. There are so many great ideas and editors do seem to appreciate multiple ideas (when you know them well enough to do so).

    My question is: Have you ever been in a situation where you have pitched an idea enthusiastically but then have dragged your feet over writing it once it has been assigned (reasons could vary from boredom, over-researching the topic, you've moved on, family matters...). What would you do in such a case? Any advice? :)

    Best wishes,

  4. Kelly, I love the idea of sending a few ideas at one time. Your post makes a lot of sense.

    Do you think blogging helps your freelancing work? I understand that it's super helpful if you have a book out but can you share how a blog can enhance your freelancing gigs.

    Thanks so much for all of your helpful insights!

  5. Hi Kelly,

    I definitely stick with editors I know, which is limiting, but comfortable. Sometimes I feel like I might be bugging with too many pitches and hold back. Are editors easily annoyed by this or do they welcome it?


  6. Kelly,
    A really useful tip. And one that, hopefully, will come in handy some day!

    I guess my question is -- how to take the first step when it comes to freelancing.

    Thanks in advance,

  7. There is a lot to know when it comes to this business! I'm just considering the possibility of seeking freelance writing jobs and so happy to have stumbled across your blog. What's your best advice for a rank beginner?

  8. Hi Kelly

    I'm a huge fan of your blog, and this technique is definitely a good idea. My freelancing question is - how to organize pitches / invoices / jobs / files so you can easily lay your hands on information, and how do you keep them up? I have the most well-meaning spreadsheet system for tracking queries and due dates for work, but I am terrible at keeping up with it.

  9. Hi Kelly - Thanks for all your great tips! My question: how do you know how many sources to interview or how much research to do for a piece? Do you have a rule of thumb? Congrats on the new book!

  10. Kelly,
    Love your blog and your books, and I look forward to your participation at ASJA later this week. My question is, how does a writer who has primarily focused on writing for print publications prepare to make the leap to writing for the Web? Are there unique "rules" to keep in mind?

  11. Kelly, I just discovered you this morning. Isn't my day off to a wonderful start! I'm getting something out of each post I read - solid advice rather than the all too frequently seen generalities. Thank you. My question: What is the best way to ask for money from a publication I've been writing for regularly for a few years? (See how much I need your book!)

  12. My question: is a blog considered 'published?' I think many have different opinions, many publications have many opinions, so I wanted to know yours....

    Please enter me in the contest.
    Lisa McManus Lange

  13. Loved your panel on 'Secrets...', Kelly (especially the fact that you made everyone stand at the podium!). Here's a question: what's the best language to use when 'firing' a client -- either for bad pay, impossible demands, or simply because you've replaced them with a better one.

  14. Hi Kelly,

    Love your blog!! Here's the question: So much of what I write if super specific to the publication I wrote it for (ex: a tips box on great online clothing consignment websites or one paragraph quotes from award-winning nurses). How can I market these to other media?

    Thanks and keep up all the great work you do!

  15. Hi Kelly,
    Congratulations on your new book! I just started reading Six Figure Freelancing and found you through Christina Katz. I am looking to build a website or blog in the next month or so, but am struggling with making it effective for the different writing hats I wear. I have a long history in copywriting for businesses and non-profits, but also write parenting articles for magazines and Chritian devotionals. As an experienced writer, how do you market yourself online to more than one audience/client base? Do you recommend having multiple sites are keeping it simple?

  16. Here's my question: when pitching on a topic such as parenting, where there are many regional/local parenting publications, how to strategize? Do you pitch the same basic piece to everyone (with appropriate tweaking)? Or do you limit yourself?

  17. Hi Kelly,
    I have all your books and will enjoyed reading your two articles in the June issue of The Writer magazine. You are such an inspiration. My question is; Is it possible to write for The Writer Magazine or other magazines with no credentials behind you? Do you need to be published as an author or in other publications before you can write even query magazines or does it just depend on the magazine and your query idea?

  18. Thank you for this giveaway and opportunity to learn. My question involves value of professional association membership for freelancers. There are many journalism and/or writer associations, and I would value your take about joining one (or more) of these groups. Would you explain the differences among the top membership associations for freelance writers and outline benefits of membership?

  19. As always, excellent advice!

    Do you use any special software programs to manage your contacts and/or track pitches?

    Thanks. :-)

  20. Hi there-
    CONGRATS on the book! Bravo and thanks for sharing ideas/advice. I'm always a little fearful to ask other writers for advice ... but you have been so forthcoming.

    My question is: For a follow up pitch -- should i forward the original pitch or re-write it and tweak the basic idea a bit? Thanks.

  21. I follow your blog because your advice is always straightforward, easy to understand and practical. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of your book.