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Make a Living Writing
Practical Help for Freelance Writers
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LinkedIn Headline Tips & Examples for Freelance Writers
<p>Have you ever wished there was a switch you could throw, and then your ideal freelance-writing clients would simply find you? What if I told you that exists — and it’s free. It’s the Linkedin headline of your profile.</p>
<p>LinkedIn is an amazing social-media platform, and <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>your LinkedIn profile</a> is key to your success.</p>
<p><strong>The LinkedIn headline</strong> — those few words that appear right under your name — is one of the simplest things to optimize.</p>
<p>With just a few quick changes, you can help more prospects find you, and impress them that you’re the writer they want.</p>
<p>LinkedIn has gradually taken center stage in my marketing trainings, over the years.</p>
<p>That’s because <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><strong>LinkedIn marketing</strong></a>&nbsp;gets the most consistent success with the least effort. (And of course, online marketing rocks during COVID.)</p>
<p>In this post, I want to go deep on this one profile element, because it’s such a powerful spot for grabbing your clients’ attention.</p>
<p>Lots of examples below, mostly from freelance writers, so check out all the ideas for what works (and doesn’t).</p>
<p>Ready to craft your optimal LinkedIn headline? Let’s go!</p>

<h2>Why it matters</h2>
<p>Why should you care about what’s in your LinkedIn headline, anyway? What’s the big deal?</p>
<blockquote readability=”7″><p><strong>If you do your headline right, your profile will rank at the top of Google searches for your type of writer.</strong></p></blockquote>
<p>Not to mention searches for your type of writer within LinkedIn.</p>
<p>Often, writers who optimize their LinkedIn headline report back that they’ve gotten their first inbound lead ever…<em>within the first week. </em></p>
<p>The LinkedIn headline is the most important piece of search-engine keyword real estate on your profile.</p>
<li>Both LinkedIn’s search engine and outside engines appear to highly regard it</li>
<li>Their algorithms use it in deciding whether your page might be relevant to a prospect searching for a writer.</li>
<p>Make good use of your LinkedIn headline, and you could wake up to leads in your inbox each week. And it just takes a few minutes to improve your headline — once you know the best practices to follow. Totally worth it.</p>
<p>Interested now? I thought so.</p>
<p>Let’s run down what to put in your LinkedIn headline (and not), and the style guidelines that make you look pro:</p>
<h2><strong>What to include in your LinkedIn headline:</strong></h2>
<p>As I said, this is precious real estate. So you want to choose what you say carefully. Let’s look at the important things to include first:</p>
<h3>Are you freelancing?</h3>
<p>There’s one word that most freelance writers seem to leave out of their headline that could really help them connect with their best clients.</p>
<p>That word is ‘freelance.’</p>
<p><strong>Thing to know:</strong> Most people on LinkedIn are either recruiters trying to place people in full time jobs… or they’re people looking for their next full-time job. We freelance writers are a bit of an outlier, though our numbers are rising (as evidenced by the growing number of LinkedIn job ads for freelancers).</p>
<p>If your headline doesn’t say you prefer to freelance…</p>
<blockquote readability=”6″><p>Your time will be wasted by many recruiters and HR managers looking to fill a position. This one word can save you so much time.</p></blockquote>
<p>Yes, many writers don’t like the word ‘freelance,’ and want to use another phrase instead. They want to say they’re a business owner or independent contractor, for instance.</p>
<p>But freelance is the term of art.</p>
<p>Add it to the front of your profile, as you see my frequent co-coach and teaching partner Mandy Ellis doing here:</p>
<p><strong><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31709″ src=”×173.png” alt=”LinkedIn headline – Mandy Ellis” width=”300″ height=”173″ srcset=”×173.png 300w,×592.png 1024w,×444.png 768w,×888.png 1536w, 1636w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></strong></p>
<h3>Don’t be a rank amateur</h3>
<p>As I said up top, the words in your headline are key for ranking well on search engines. Finding good keyword phrases to put in your headline is Job One.</p>
<p>Most freelance writers’ headlines look much like this:<img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31710″ src=”×269.png” alt=”LinkedIn headline – Kristen Fischer” width=”300″ height=”269″ srcset=”×269.png 300w,×688.png 768w, 882w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p>What’s wrong with this simple headline? It has no keyword phrase you’ll ever be able to rank for on a search. These single-word keywords are waaaay too popular and difficult to rank for.</p>
<p>You need longer phrases that you have a shot at getting on top of a search for, and that have the bonus of better qualifying your prospect. Like this:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31711″ src=”×201.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Tolu Ajiboye” width=”300″ height=”201″ srcset=”×201.png 300w,×687.png 1024w,×515.png 768w, 1202w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p>If you’re wondering, search engines are smart enough now to put those words together into two phrases: “freelance biopharma writer” and ‘freelance healthcare writer.” With just a few additional words, Tolu has greatly improved her odds of topping a relevant search.</p>
<p>As a bonus, adding a few more key words also allows her to connect with her ideal clients, instead of anybody-and-everybody, saving her time on tire-kickers.</p>
<h3>Whaddaya know?</h3>
<p>Let me cut to the chase and spotlight the absolute-best thing to put in your headline: It’s the names of industries you know about.</p>
<p>Why is this? It’s because that’s usually how clients search for a writer. They never have time to educate us from square one about how their industry works and teach us all the jargon — they’re looking for a writer who already gets it.</p>
<p>So pick the top 2-3 industries you have experience with, and get them into your headline, like so:</p>
<p><strong><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31712″ src=”×181.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Kaleigh Moore” width=”300″ height=”181″ srcset=”×181.png 300w,×616.png 1024w,×462.png 768w, 1432w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></strong></p>
<p>Besides ranking better, seeing their industry mentioned gives prospects a “Eureka — I’ve found my writer!” moment, when they spot it.</p>
<p>P.S. You may notice Kaleigh also threw in some of her top markets. She’s got room, so why not? In general, credits are sexier to show visually, by putting their logos into your header (pros call it a ‘proof bar’).</p>
<p>Space is valuable here in the headline, and prospects generally aren’t searching by past bylines. But if you have brand names to flash, it certainly can impress. Just keep SEO the top priority.</p>
<h3><strong>Attract the right type</strong></h3>
<p>Once you’ve got your industries down, if you have space, you might want to put in the types of writing you enjoy doing most. That way, you’re more likely to connect with someone who needs that specific type of writing done.</p>
<p>It’s not as important from the client’s POV that you immediately telegraph you’ve written the exact thing they need. The industry know-how is more important. But if you’re a mature-stage career writer who wants to focus mostly on <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>writing white papers</a>, or <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>ghostwriting articles</a>, or something specific like that, this doesn’t hurt:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31714″ src=”×171.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Janice King” width=”300″ height=”171″ srcset=”×171.png 300w,×584.png 1024w,×438.png 768w,×877.png 1536w, 1654w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<h3>Go local</h3>
<p>It may seem crazy in our Zoom-meeting era, but there are still some clients who’d prefer to work with a writer in their town. With COVID fading, they may want to take an in-person meeting at some future point.</p>
<p>That means you can create a better-ranking SEO keyword phrase for your headline by adding your location (especially if it’s in or near a major city).</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31716″ src=”×300.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Maria Dolan” width=”271″ height=”300″ srcset=”×300.png 271w, 730w” sizes=”(max-width: 271px) 100vw, 271px”></p>
<p>P.S. Yes, your location is also listed on a separate line, just below the headline. Still, it appears that adding location to your headline may provide an SEO boost.</p>
<h3>First contact</h3>
<p>Big thing to know — <em>only your connections can see your contacts on your LinkedIn profile.<br></em></p>
<p>That means most prospects can’t.</p>
<p>If you want to make it easy for clients to hire you off LinkedIn, you need to put your contacts in a public place on your profile. The choices are:</p>
<li>Your graphical header (ideal, really)</li>
<li>Your About section</li>
<li>Your headline</li>
<p>Putting your contacts in your About is a little passive-aggressive, because they don’t know it’s there unless they click and read through it. Assuming you have room for it in your headline, you can put it there (see the Style Guide below for notes about ideal length).</p>
<p>Recently, I decided to take my own advice and add my email to my LinkedIn headline, rather than just hoping prospects would discover it in my About:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter wp-image-31722″ src=”×167.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Carol Tice – contacts” width=”341″ height=”190″ srcset=”×167.png 300w,×570.png 1024w,×427.png 768w,×855.png 1536w, 1560w” sizes=”(max-width: 341px) 100vw, 341px”></p>
<p>So there you have it — the elements of a winning LinkedIn headline:</p>
<li>Writing types</li>
<p>Consider those elements and weave them together into a headline that expresses who you are, what you know, and what you do. It’ll help you connect with the clients you want.</p>
<h2><strong>Your LinkedIn headline can do without…</strong></h2>
<p>There are many other things that turn up in LinkedIn headlines that <em>don’t</em> present you in the best light. Let’s run those down now:</p>
<h3>Keeping things vague</h3>
<p><strong>Remember:</strong> We’re trying to get hired as freelance writers here. That means precise language really counts.</p>
<p>Yet, I find profile after profile where writers say they do ‘communications’ or ‘multimedia.’ People…many prospects don’t know what that means.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31729″ src=”×163.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Dan Sytman” width=”300″ height=”163″ srcset=”×163.png 300w,×555.png 1024w,×416.png 768w,×832.png 1536w, 1580w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<li>Are you a PR person, willing to call on journalists?</li>
<li>You write internal memos? Speeches?</li>
<li>You are a video-production studio?</li>
<p>Spell it out, and you’ll connect with more of the prospects you want — and avoid awkward conversations about what they guess you do.</p>
<h3>When writers get creative</h3>
<p>Writers like to be creative. Right? We all got A’s in creative writing class!</p>
<p>Sadly, your LinkedIn headline isn’t the greatest place to unleash that creativity, except in very small doses. A little flash of personality is great.</p>
<p><strong>If you’re a copywriter,</strong> you’ll want to avoid overused phrases that don’t resonate with business clients.</p>
<li>“Storyteller” is one of them.</li>
<li>Why? Many business clients are still just figuring out storytelling is a mode that would help their marketing.</li>
<p>Crafting some elaborate, clever sentence here is a waste of vital SEO space. So keep it in check.</p>
<p>Here’s a good example of adding a flash of creativity:<img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31731″ src=”×186.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Leslie Williams” width=”300″ height=”186″ srcset=”×186.png 300w,×636.png 1024w,×477.png 768w,×953.png 1536w, 1640w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<h3>When keywords become spam</h3>
<p>There’s a fine line here between providing useful SEO keywords and an obvious keyword-stuffing exercise. We writers all hate it when we find this in other types of online writing, yes? Well, your headline is no exception.</p>
<p><strong>Hint:</strong> You don’t need to use the word ‘writer’ over and over, as in “Freelance healthcare writer, fintech writer, newsletter writer.”</p>
<p>Once and the search engines get it. So don’t overdo.</p>
<h3>Gotta motto?</h3>
<p>If you love branding, or do it for clients, you may be tempted to make your headline a snappy tagline or brand statement of your own.</p>
<p>Try to resist. This is not an ideal way to use your precious headline space.</p>
<p>What’s the problem? Well, take a look:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31732″ src=”×232.png” alt=”Linkedin headlines – Jon Vann Sprecher” width=”300″ height=”232″ srcset=”×232.png 300w,×791.png 1024w,×593.png 768w, 1036w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p>You guessed it: This has zero good keyword phrases that help prospects search and find you. We also can’t tell what industries Jon helps with brands. (More on why ‘digital strategy’ doesn’t work in the Style Guide below.)</p>
<p>Also, Jon’s got this brand in his header already, which is a better place for it. Why repeat? No need. Add more info about industries or types of writing in the headline, and help yourself get found.</p>
<h3>The company you keep</h3>
<p>Many pro freelance writers have a registered business name. And when we do, we’re dying to tell the world, so many writers pop that company moniker in their headline:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31738″ src=”×190.png” alt=”Linkedin headlines – Campbell &amp; company” width=”300″ height=”190″ srcset=”×190.png 300w,×650.png 1024w,×488.png 768w, 1276w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p>It’s… ineffectual. Doesn’t shed any additional light on what you know or can do. Doesn’t help qualify a prospect. Stuff that headline with industry phrases instead, I say.</p>
<h3>Don’t blow your horn</h3>
<p>Do you want to throttle people who humblebrag about how great they are? This sort of self-proclaimed greatness is particularly awkward in LinkedIn headlines. So avoid words like:</p>
<p>If you flip back up to Leslie’s headline and read the bottom line, there’s an example. Let your work and your LinkedIn recommendations show you’re awesome.</p>
<p>Also, people who proclaim themselves the top expert in X often find themselves getting flamed for it on LinkedIn. Just sayin’.</p>
<h3>Stay in control</h3>
<p>There’s a quirk in LinkedIn’s profile operations that you need to know, so that you keep your finely crafted headline in front of your prospects.</p>
<p>If you add a new client to your Experience section, LinkedIn wants to update your headline to only show what you said about that new writing job. It erases your existing headline in favor of the new job details. Ugh!</p>
<p>Here’s the important fix that keeps your headline the words you’ve carefully created:</p>
<blockquote readability=”8″><p><strong>When you’re adding the new Experience item, you’ll see a check-box for ‘update my headline.’ Make sure it is UNCHECKED, as you see here.</strong></p></blockquote>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter wp-image-31774″ src=”” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – editing Experience” width=”304″ height=”235″ srcset=” 650w,×232.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 304px) 100vw, 304px”></p>
<p>Now that you have the basic do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn headlines, let’s go over some fine points of style that’ll really make your headline sing.</p>
<h2><strong>LinkedIn style guide<br></strong></h2>
<p>As with every social-media platform, LinkedIn headlines have a style that’s become a best practice.</p>
<li>Pros know and use it</li>
<li>Others slap things up every which way.</li>
<p>Here’s my LinkedIn style guide:</p>
<h3>When headlines go long</h3>
<p>It’s not advisable to go on endlessly in your LinkedIn headline.</p>
<li>Newspaper headlines aren’t five lines long for a reason.</li>
<li>Similar principles apply to the length of your LinkedIn headline.</li>
<p>Too much and people gloss over it and move on.</p>
<p><strong>What length headline <em>will</em> people read?</strong></p>
<li>Here’s my take: You’ve got two lines to make your case. That’s it.</li>
<p>You can wrap around once, while you’re stuffing in those industry keywords. But as the headline goes into three or four lines, it becomes overwhelming.</p>
<p>Take a look at this, and tell me if you want to read all through it:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31743″ src=”×185.png” alt=”Linkedin headlines-Daniel Rosehill” width=”300″ height=”185″ srcset=”×185.png 300w,×632.png 1024w,×474.png 768w, 1296w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p>I thought not.</p>
<p>Yes, this means you must engage in some painful triage of all the things you wanted to include. But do it, because you want to be pithy.</p>
<p>Remember, we’re often hired because we can sum things up, where others cannot. This headline is a great place to start showing you can be concise.</p>
<h3>Beware the cutoff</h3>
<p>Here’s an even stronger reason to think short on your headline. Perhaps you’ve noticed what happens to your headline when you leave a comment or post an update? For instance, here’s Kristen’s full headline:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31765″ src=”×186.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Kristen Lamb – full” width=”300″ height=”186″ srcset=”×186.png 300w,×636.png 1024w,×477.png 768w, 1498w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p>Not bad. But here’s what it looks like when she comments:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-31767″ src=”×95.png” alt=”LinkedIn headines – kristen Lamb cutoff” width=”1024″ height=”95″ srcset=”×95.png 1024w,×28.png 300w,×71.png 768w,×143.png 1536w, 1678w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></p>
<p>Note how all of her industry niches disappear. Not good. You’ve only got 7-8 words of visible headline, when you engage with people on LinkedIn. They have to go to your profile to see the whole thing.</p>
<p>Think hard about what you put in the front of your headline — because it’s what people will see the most.</p>
<h3>Make your case</h3>
<p>Remember when we were talking about not being self-important on here? Well, there’s one subtle way you can seem like an authority without being annoying.</p>
<p>How? <strong>Use initial caps on every word in your headline.</strong> Just like the papers do.</p>
<p>Scan back through the headline examples in this post, and you’ll see some people using title case, and others not. Which do<em> you</em> think comes off more professional? I say it’s initial caps for the win.</p>
<h3>Avoid sentencing</h3>
<p>Some LinkedIn users favor using a sentence construction in their Linkedin headline. Often it goes, “I help X get Y result.” Seems helpful — but it tends to not work as well as simple keyword phrases.</p>
<p>Here’s why. Check out what happens to the sentence headline when you comment:</p>
<p><strong><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-31768″ src=”×105.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Samantha Hartley” width=”1024″ height=”105″ srcset=”×105.png 1024w,×31.png 300w,×79.png 768w,×157.png 1536w, 1602w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></strong></p>
<p>…and we’re left hanging. What does she actually do? We can’t tell.</p>
<p>There’s also the problem of using ‘I’ statements, which seems more ‘me’ focused than client-focused. You want the latter.</p>
<h3>Are you a verb?</h3>
<p>Here’s a big insight I’ve gleaned from watching profiles succeed and fail for a decade:</p>
<blockquote readability=”6″><p><strong>Clients search for the person they want to hire, not the thing they want done.</strong></p></blockquote>
<li><strong>The noun,</strong> not the verb.</li>
<li><strong>Freelance writer,</strong> not freelance writing.</li>
<p>(Remember how we had ‘digital strategy’ in a headline above? ‘Digital strategist’ is what the client would search for.)</p>
<p><strong>If you needed to hire a writer…</strong></p>
<li>Would you search for ‘freelance healthcare writing’?</li>
<li>That’s not intuitive. ‘Freelance healthcare writer’ is.</li>
<p>Yet writers persist in using verbs to describe what they do, rather than nouns that say who they are.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31769″ src=”×199.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Anna Ivey” width=”300″ height=”199″ srcset=”×199.png 300w,×678.png 1024w,×509.png 768w, 1196w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p><strong>This one’s simple:</strong> Describe who you are, to come up with keyword phrases that align with what prospects use to find us.</p>
<h3>Don’t go off the rails</h3>
<p>This is a small thing, but it goes a long way toward making you look like a pro LinkedIn user.</p>
<p>It’s in the way you divide phrases and concepts in your headline.</p>
<p><strong>Tip:</strong> Use the rail. Not commas, dashes, ellipses or whatever. Not a mix of things. Just the rails.</p>
<p>Take a look at how cleanly the rails break up your ideas so readers can easily get the drift (and makes sure there’s space around each, so search engines can ‘read’ each one):</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31771″ src=”×176.png” alt=”Linkedin headlines – Courtney Spencer” width=”300″ height=”176″ srcset=”×176.png 300w,×602.png 1024w,×451.png 768w, 1504w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p>If you’re wondering how to make the rail, it’s the capital of the backslash key on the far right of a typical keyboard. You’re welcome.</p>
<h2>How to create your perfect headline</h2>
<p>OK, now you’ve got all the info you need to create your ideal LinkedIn headline.</p>
<p>How do you nail this?</p>
<p><strong>Big tip: Do market research</strong> on what other freelance writers who you know are very successful have done with their profiles.</p>
<li>Think about what’s working there, and how to perhaps be a bit unique and different.</li>
<li>Once you look through even a half-dozen pro profiles, you’ll have a better sense of how to balance all the elements you need to create your best headline.</li>
<h3>Newbies vs established pros</h3>
<p><strong>Here’s one angle to consider, in perfecting your headline:</strong></p>
<li>If you’re a working, longtime freelance writer with an impressive portfolio and inbound leads already coming your way, you can play around with your headline more.</li>
<li>Some clients may search for you by name, and keywords are less critical if you already have good word-of-mouth.</li>
<p>If you’re a new freelance writer, keywords are absolutely essential. You’re hoping to tap the search engines and get prospects coming your way, so my tip is to keep it simple and keyword-filled.</p>
<h2>The ultimate test</h2>
<p>There’s one final test of a good LinkedIn headline.</p>
<p>It’s whether or not it gets you clients. Remember that effectiveness is the ultimate judge.</p>
<p>If your headline is working right now to get you clients, don’t go changin’ to conform to the tips above.</p>
<p>For instance, this headline from Georgie is officially too long:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-31772″ src=”×200.png” alt=”LinkedIn headlines – Georgie Smith” width=”300″ height=”200″ srcset=”×200.png 300w,×681.png 1024w,×511.png 768w,×1022.png 1536w, 1554w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”></p>
<p>But I happen to know this profile is getting Georgie a TON of leads. So she shouldn’t touch it.</p>
<p>If you redo your headline because it hasn’t been getting you clients, give your rewritten headline a month or so. See if you see a spike in the number of people viewing your profile and contacting you about possible work.</p>
<p>If not, it’s time to tweak a little more. Keep experimenting until your ideal clients come calling.</p>
<p><em><strong>What’s your LinkedIn headline say?</strong> </em>Post it in the comments and let’s discuss.</p>
<p><a href=””><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-29368″ src=”” alt=”Online Course: LinkedIn Marketing for Freelance Writers.” width=”1024″ height=”488″></a></p>
<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Sun, 28 Mar 2021 06:00:00 +0000 Carol Tice
social media marketing

Laid Off? An Old Writer’s 5 Smart Moves to Get Freelance Work
<p>What if you got laid off, lost all your freelance clients, or decided to drop every one of your low-payers? You’d want to get freelance work…fast.</p>
<p>In an economy full of uncertainty thanks to the impact of COVID-19, lots of writers know what it’s like to get the “pink slip” from an employer or long-time client.</p>
<li>Do you roll around on the floor, kicking and screaming?</li>
<li>Maybe you even think about swearing off writing forever.</li>
<li>Or do you give a nod to the experience, be grateful for what you’ve learned, and start chasing freelance work?</li>
<p>If you want to make a living writing, there’s plenty of freelance work out there for everybody.</p>
<p>But you’re not going to find clients, land great freelance projects or make money if you waste a lot of time hosting a pity party.</p>
<p>Life happens. Careers change. Freelance work and clients come and go.</p>
<p>If you’re a writer feeling the pinch of a layoff, end of a great client relationship, or some other situation you didn’t see coming, it’s up to you to rise up and keep going.</p>
<p>That’s exactly what one old writer did when he got laid off.</p>
<p>But instead of giving up, he made these 5 smart moves to turn things around and start landing freelance work.</p>
<p>Check this out…</p>

<h2>How to get freelance work like writer John Fischer</h2>
<div id=”attachment_31790″ class=”wp-caption alignleft”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-31790″ loading=”lazy” class=”size-thumbnail wp-image-31790″ src=”×150.jpg” alt=”Freelance Work: John Fischer” width=”150″ height=”150″ srcset=”×150.jpg 150w, 300w,×125.jpg 125w” sizes=”(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px”><p id=”caption-attachment-31790″ class=”wp-caption-text”>John Fischer</p></div>
<p>Do you think 1980s pop star Bonnie Tyler ever thought about the impact her “Holding Out for a Hero” might have on personal reinvention?</p>
<p>Remember that hit song?</p>
<p>(If not, no sweat. Just give it a listen on YouTube.)</p>
<p>Let’s call it a wistful story, one in which the singer pines for a hero, who will make everything right again.</p>
<p>Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, right?</p>
<p>Take you, for example; yes, you.</p>
<h4>First, the back story</h4>
<p>To say I’ve had a few different jobs would be a gross understatement.</p>
<p>What would be far more accurate, though, can be measured by the number of times I’ve had to resort to personal reinvention, freelance work, and lot of other things. (Trust me. It’s a lot.)</p>
<p>Regardless of the circumstances, though, I’ve always tried to do my best chameleon imitation.</p>
<p>Take this past year, for example.</p>
<p>(Yep, I’ve got my own Bonnie Tyler hero’s tale to tell.)</p>
<h2>If you want to be a freelance writer…expect the unexpected</h2>
<p>For the last several years, I have worked in the staffing industry (in both business development and recruiting). Doing my best to…</p>
<li>Leverage my personal network</li>
<li>Build up my own book</li>
<li>Attend industry events</li>
<li>And on my best days, I’ve even managed to out hustle the competition once or twice</li>
<p>But this past year?…</p>
<p>It’s like anything else…</p>
<li>You get upset</li>
<li>You worry</li>
<li>There’s suddenly a lot of scrambling</li>
<li>And you try like hell to readjust your confidence and get back in the game</li>
<p>So, you – yes, that’s all of you – should embrace your writing abilities and expect the unexpected.</p>
<h4>You’ve got a skill set that will always be needed</h4>
<p>(Now, I wouldn’t hold out hope for a place on the world’s Top 100 Wealthiest People list, but I can definitely see a scenario where you could be commissioned to write each of their bios!)</p>
<p>Prior to my work in staffing, I wrote professionally for years.</p>
<p>Lucky for me, so far anyway, it has been a lot like riding a bike.</p>
<p>And while there may not be one tried-and-true methodology, identifying a personal plan to land freelance work will give each of you a shot at becoming your own hero/heroine.</p>
<h2>Time to put on some new shoes for freelance success</h2>
<p><span>Let’s start by thanking rock and roll legend Eric Clapton for providing us with a potential teaching tool. </span></p>
<p><span>Like the song says, “I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything’s right.”</span></p>
<p><span>Nobody says personal reinvention is easy, but simply getting started with the process doesn’t have to be difficult.</span><span><br></span><span><br></span><span><strong>Here’s what I recommend to get back on your feet:</strong></span></p>
<li><span> After getting laid off</span></li>
<li><span>Losing an anchor client</span></li>
<li><span>Or just trying to land some good freelance work…<br></span></li>
<p><span>So, sticking with Mr. Clapton’s handy metaphor, plus some other familiar go-tos, let’s </span><span>talk specifics.</span></p>
<h2>1. Make a deal with yourself</h2>
<p>If you believe you can make a living writing, no one else’s opinion should matter.</p>
<li>Change gears</li>
<li>Trust your skill set</li>
<li>Find those “new shoes” if you have to.</li>
<li>If you believe in your abilities, others will, too.</li>
<h2>2. There will never be another you</h2>
<p>Nat King Cole was right on point. When in doubt, bet on yourself.</p>
<li>Craft your personal brand</li>
<li>Build up your street ‘cred</li>
<li>Let prospective employers and clients know that they’ll be getting the one and only “you.”</li>
<h2>3. Get help from other people</h2>
<p>Finding success in writing can be largely predicated on getting help from others.</p>
<p>So, be sure to build that into the plan, too. (One great resource is the <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Freelance Writers Den.</a>)</p>
<p>It’s key to find the right people to help effectively showcase your work.</p>
<h2>4. If you build it, they will come</h2>
<p>Are you leveraging the power of social media, your writer website, and networking groups to find freelance work? (Just saying…)</p>
<p>Even if you’re the second coming of William Faulkner or Charlotte Brontë, effectively showcasing your work may be just as important as the work itself.</p>
<li>Consider shopping around for a cost-effective, talented designer</li>
<li>Build your own writer website with an “off-the-shelf” model</li>
<li>Leverage all the major social media platforms…Facebook, Twitter, and especially LinkedIn. It’s actually how I <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>connected with freelancer Evan Jensen</a>.</li>
<li>Use social media. Your daily to-do list…like, comment, share, and post to boost your visibility</li>
<p>Having the all-important writing ‘chops just isn’t enough anymore to land freelance work.</p>
<h2>5. Stay in the fight</h2>
<p>If anyone tells you that freelance work and earning money as a writer isn’t largely about good ‘ol fashion elbow grease, I’m not sure I’d listen.</p>
<p>“Talent,” however you choose to define it, is important.</p>
<p>But without hustle and heart, well, you’re nowhere.</p>
<blockquote readability=”7″><p>“Build your strategy and your reputation largely around your work ethic, and don’t ever let up. Not ever.”</p></blockquote>
<p>That’s how you land freelance work and make a living writing.</p>
<p><strong><em>What’s your plan to get more freelance work? </em></strong>Tell us about it in the comments below.</p>
<p><em><a href=”” rel>John Fisher </a>is a NYC-based freelance copywriter, journalist, and content marketing strategist. He’s written and managed projects for companies like Turner Broadcasting, Honeywell, Jackson Hewitt and many others.&nbsp;</em></p>
<p><a href=””><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-29368″ src=”” alt=”300+ Hours of Trainings. Once Affordable Price. Freelance Writers Den” width=”1024″ height=”488″ srcset=” 1024w,×143.jpg 300w,×366.jpg 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”></a></p>
<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Wed, 24 Mar 2021 06:00:00 +0000 Editor
finding clients
getting fired
guest post
older writers

Get Paid to Write Articles: The Freelancer’s Ultimate Guide
<p>Tired of article writing jobs that pay a big $50? There’s a ton of ‘online content’ work out there that doesn’t pay much. Maybe it’s time to move up and learn how to write an article and, more importantly, how to get paid to write articles.</p>
<p>And when I say that, I don’t mean a $75 article — I mean the type of article that pays real money. $1-a-word-and-up land.</p>
<p>If that interests you, you’re in the right place.</p>
<p>After offering article-writing tips for over a decade, I decided it would be useful to organize all the information into one, big ultimate guide that shows you exactly how to get paid to write articles at rates you deserve.</p>
<p>Many freelance writers do article-prep steps out of order or skip some steps entirely, with poor results. Following this step-by-step guide will make it easier for you to move up, write in-depth, reported articles faster, and sell to better-paying article markets.</p>
<p>Ready to learn how to write an article that pays? Then let’s go!</p>

<p> <img class=”alignleft” src=”″ alt=”Get the free ebook! How to Write an Article that Pays: The Freelancer’s Ultimate Guide by Carol Tice” data-leadbox-popup=”aQAwPnUmq252mTNu4GC5Af” data-leadbox-domain=””>In this guide, you’ll learn how to find well-paid article markets, get assignments, write more complex, reported articles, and join the world where articles pay $1,000 and up.</p>
<p>Here’s my ultimate guide to getting paid to write articles below — or you can <a data-leadbox-popup=”aQAwPnUmq252mTNu4GC5Af” data-leadbox-domain=””><strong>get the free E-Book PDF version</strong></a>.</p>
<h3>Table of contents: How to Get Paid A Lot to Write an Article</h3>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#findgoodmarkets”>Find good markets</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#studyyourtargets”>Study your targets</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#generateideas”>Generate ideas</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#researchthefacts”>Research the facts</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#dopreinterviews”>Do quick pre-interviews</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#createaheadline”>Create a headline</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#writeaquery”>Write a query</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#writemorequeries”>Write more queries</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#getanassignment”>Get an assignment and contract</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#finishyourinterviews”>Finish your interviews</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#organizeyournotes”>Organize your notes</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#writeyourarticle”>Write your article</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#boilitdown”>Boil it down (editing)</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#factcheck”>One last fact check…</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#fileyourarticle”>File your article</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#respondtofeedback”>Respond to editor feedback</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#finalize”>Finalize and invoice</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#generateideas”>Generate ideas</a></strong></li>

<h2>1. Find good markets</h2>
<p>Do you do this? You get an idea for an article, and you just write it up. Then, you start looking around for a magazine or website that might publish it and pay you a chunk.</p>
<p>But you discover no such market can be found. Even if it could, many publications pay less for pre-written material. Their editors want to weigh in before you write!</p>
<p>Instead, start your article-writing journey by building a list of well-paid publications or websites where you’d like to see your byline. Stop bothering with local pubs that pay $75 for a feature story!</p>
<p>Here are some places to find markets where you can get paid to write articles at a much higher rate:</p>
<li><strong>Join the Freelance Writers Den.&nbsp;</strong>Ok, shameless plug, but if you want to get paid to write articles, the <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Freelance Writers Den</a> is a fantastic place to start. Not only does the Den have a junk-free job board that includes lots of high-paying opportunities, but you also get access to hundreds of hours of training materials, a 24/7 forum where you can network with other writers, and so many other great resources that will help you get paid more as a writer.</li>
<li><strong>Use <em>Writer’s Market. </em></strong>One of my favorite shortcuts is to buy the most recent-year copy of <em>Writer’s Market</em> — <em>with</em> online support. Online, you can set their online search tool to quickly show you only the highest-paying markets.</li>
<li><strong>Check <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>WhoPaysWriters</a></strong> for intel on which magazines are paying well, or search up the many available <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>lists of good-paying markets</a> compiled online.</li>
<li><strong>Browse our market lists.&nbsp;</strong><a href=”” rel>our monster list of over 200 paying markets</a>Each month, we publish a new list of markets paying writers good many to write articles. You can get started by checking out .</li>
<li><strong>Find trade and company magazines.</strong> If you’re unaware of the world beyond consumer newsstand magazines, broaden your horizons to include <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>trade publications</a> and <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>company magazines</a> (this latter category includes the airlines’ in-flight magazines). These latter two categories tend to pay well and offer reliable work, once you get in their writer stable.</li>
<li><strong>Write for businesses. </strong>Finally, consider writing articles directly for companies. Many businesses create article content for their own websites, or are looking to get an article ghostwritten for their CEO and published in a consumer or trade magazine (known as a ‘placed’ or advertorial article). Rates for placed articles are often $1,000 or more.</li>
<h3>A note about essays</h3>
<p>If you are thinking about writing personal-essay articles, bad news: Good pay is very rare (this <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>list of paying essay markets</a> gives you a taste of the low rates).</p>
<p>For purposes of this ultimate guide, when I say ‘write an article,’ what I mean is a nonfiction, reported article. Not a personal essay or opinion piece.</p>
<p>Good-paying essay markets are few and highly competitive. The odds you could earn regularly this way are low.</p>
<p>The good money is in reported nonfiction articles, and that’s what this guide is about.</p>
<h3>What can I write about?</h3>
<p>One more quick note about ‘qualifications’ or certifications you might think you need, to write on a topic. <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>None are required</a>.</p>
<p>If you have an interest and willingness to learn about a topic, you can interview experts and learn the industry. I’m a college dropout and have written for top-drawer magazines and websites in real estate, legal, insurance, finance, and other niches. Learned it all on the job, and you can, too.</p>
<p>Once you’ve located some publications or sites that offer serious money for topics you can write about, you’re ready for the next step.</p>

<h2>2. Study your targets</h2>
<p>Maybe you’ve read your target magazines before, maybe not. Now, read them as a writer trying to crack that market, and ask yourself:</p>
<li>What topics do they cover?</li>
<li>What seems popular?</li>
<li>What have they already written about?</li>
<h3>Verify freelance opportunities</h3>
<p>Most importantly, match bylines to the masthead to discover which parts of the publication appear to use freelance writers. No point pitching to a column that’s authored by the same staffer every edition.</p>
<h3>Identify best-fit departments</h3>
<p>Most publications have departments — short, up-front columns, often with topics they do each issue, followed by space for longer feature pieces. These short ‘front of book’ pieces are often a great place for freelance writers to break in at better magazines.</p>
<h3>Check out the pub’s media guide</h3>
<p>Also, look online for their advertiser’s guide or media guide. It will have info on the reader demographics and give you insight into who the readers are and what topics are of top interest.</p>
<p>Once you have a strong sense of who reads that outlet and what they publish articles on, you’re ready to develop your idea.</p>
<p><strong>Note:</strong> That idea should <em>not</em> be to write another article on a topic the publication covered recently. Likely, they’re done with that now. You’ll need something new.</p>

<h2>3. Generate ideas</h2>
<p>If you want to get paid to write articles and make a consistent living at it, you’re going to need a lot of sharp article ideas. I know many freelance writers who’re in denial about this, and they sit around hoping some wonderful editor will assign them topics monthly.</p>
<p>Changes in publishing mean fewer editors on staff, less of an editorial brain-trust in-house, and more assignments going to freelance writers to bring their own ideas.</p>
<blockquote readability=”5″><p>A really strong article idea is your golden ticket in the door of better-paid article markets.</p></blockquote>
<p>Commit to becoming an idea machine. Consider it a hobby. See how many pieces of information you can collect that could be spun into story ideas.</p>
<p><strong>Here are some ways to troll for ideas:</strong></p>
<li>Set up <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Google alerts</a> on your chosen topics</li>
<li>Read press releases on <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>PR Web</a></li>
<li>Read competing publications to your target</li>
<li>Subscribe to blogs and ‘push’ news services on the topic</li>
<li>Read local publications for ideas you could pitch nationally</li>
<li>Read industry trade magazines for ideas you could pitch to mainstream consumer mags, and vice versa</li>
<li>Check relevant social-media hashtags or aggregator sites such as Reddit for trends</li>
<li>Listen to relevant podcasts for ideas and sources</li>
<li>Attend conferences</li>
<li>Interview experts</li>
<li>Eavesdrop on conversations</li>
<p>Once you’ve gathered some seeds of ideas, you need to figure out how to take these news nuggets and spin them into article ideas you can pitch. Here’s how:</p>
<p><strong>Ask questions to develop story ideas</strong></p>
<li>What is likely to happen next in this issue or trend?</li>
<li>Have more developments occurred since publication?</li>
<li>Why is this happening? What underlying trends are newsworthy?</li>
<li>How will this affect various industries, or types of people — retirees, college students, etc.?</li>
<li>What relevant question did this story fail to answer?</li>
<li>Where else is this happening?</li>
<li>Is there a new book coming out about this?</li>
<li>Were all points of view included in this piece, or are there voices missing?</li>
<li>What other types of publications might want this story?</li>
<li>What else do I know about this topic that might shed new light on this issue?</li>
<p>Think a much-covered story can’t be pitched again? You’re so wrong. You can always find another angle, as I demonstrate <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>here</a>.</p>
<p>As you use your news-gathering research to start developing fresh angles to pitch, you’ll need to take one final step to make sure your idea is salable.</p>

<h2>4. Find your hook</h2>
<p>Story ideas that are likely to get an assignment all have one thing in common: A news hook.</p>
<p>What’s that? <strong>A news hook</strong> is something that gives your idea urgency, and makes it need to be published soon<em>.</em> It signals you have fresh information that we haven’t already seen 100 times online.</p>
<li>The news hook gets your editor thinking, ‘This must run in the next issue!’ instead of ‘Well, maybe this could work sometime.’ You’ve got to get out of that ‘maybe’ pile to start getting regular assignments.</li>
<li>That means you’ll to move beyond generic headlines like: ‘5 Tasty Ways to Cook Bacon.’ We’ve read that story already. A lot. So how do you do that?</li>
<li>Find a fresh spin. Is there a new seasoning to use with bacon? A new celebrity chef saying they’re creating a bunch of innovative bacon recipes? Give that editor a new angle.</li>
<h3>Tips for identifying a news hook</h3>
<li>A news hook might be one new fact that’s emerged in an ongoing story – a lawsuit was filed, or a candidate has withdrawn from the race.</li>
<li>It could be an anniversary story because it’s a year after the big fire, earthquake, flood.</li>
<li>Or something like all the recent ‘Amazon Turns 25’ stories. Google that, and look at all the different ways various news outlets covered that milestone. Some looked back and did historical pieces, others talked about how it changed the culture, still others look at what the <em>next</em> 25 years might bring at the online giant.</li>
<p>Always more fresh angles that could get an editor excited to assign you an article and get you paid.</p>
<h3>A note about magazine timelines</h3>
<p>Remember that many national magazines work 4-6 months ahead of time, when you’re looking for those news hooks. Yes, that makes it hard to be newsy! Pitching a story with a news hook that will be long over before the issue comes out is a common reason pitches fail.</p>
<li><strong>Think months into the future before pitching. </strong>Think about how you can examine future possible next steps or outcomes, spot up-and-coming trends, or provide more in-depth analysis to get in with the big magazines. You can also look at anniversaries for something that would be timely around the time that issue hits the newsstand.</li>

<h2>5. Research the facts</h2>
<p>Now that you’ve got an idea, it’s time to road-test it and see if it’s real. One way freelance writers can make sure an idea is going to hold water is to conduct <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>research to confirm accuracy</a> with reliable sources.</p>
<p><strong>In a word:</strong> Don’t trust Wikipedia. Remember, anyone can write anything on there.</p>
<h3>Use primary sources</h3>
<p>Wikipedia is a secondary source or worse. And you want to avoid those as much as possible. Use primary sources instead. Primary sources provide credibility and authority that help demonstrate your ability to report and write a story.</p>
<p><strong>So how do you find primary sources?</strong> Here are some examples:</p>
<li>Look to university professors, government agencies, professional associations, leading authorities, and noted authors on your topic.</li>
<li>Try to get more than one source to confirm, rather than relying on a single source.</li>
<li>Stumped? Look up articles on similar subjects at major newspapers and magazines, such as the <em>New York Times</em> or <em>Forbes,</em> and see who they quote. That should give you some leads.</li>
<p><strong>Note: </strong>Remember not to over-research — think about how many factoids and bits of background info will fit in your story, and stop when you get enough.</p>
<p>Once you have your facts straight, it’s time to talk to some experts and/or ordinary people who’re experiencing the issue, trend, or problem you’ll write about.</p>

<h2>6. Do quick pre-interviews</h2>
<p>This is the part where for many newbie freelance writers, the whole thing screeches to a halt.</p>
<p>Yes. Most well-paid article assignments involve speaking to live humans (on the phone, or maybe on Skype, or in person). That’s one of the reasons they pay well — they require some legwork.</p>
<p>Breathe. You can do this. You talk to people every day, right?</p>
<p>Now that you have a premise for a story, this is the point where you can get interview practice by conducting quick pre-interviews of an expert or two on your topic.</p>
<li><strong>What’s a pre-interview?</strong> It’s a quick chat you do so that you have a few good quotes and ideas to put in your query letter. Think 10-15 minutes, tops.</li>
<li><strong>Prepare and listen. </strong>Come with a few of your top questions, and listen carefully to the responses. They’ll help you craft your follow-up questions.</li>
<p><strong>Note: </strong>You might think that no one will talk to you for an article you don’t have assigned yet, but you’d be surprised. Not everyone will agree, but many will be game.</p>
<p>The bigger the market you’re pitching, the easier it’ll be. Ten minutes isn’t a lot of time for an expert to risk for possibly ending up with a national-magazine mention.</p>
<h3>A note about email ‘interviews’</h3>
<p>In the world of blogging, collecting info via a quick email has become routine. But when it comes to well-paid article writing, not so much. Most legit magazines will expect you to actually speak to people, and may even require that you note it in the article if you only emailed, as in:</p>
<blockquote readability=”7″><p>“This sucks,” said Joe Shmoe, in an email response.</p></blockquote>
<p>Yes, that <em>is</em> awkward. So avoid it by screwing up your courage and doing actual interviews. It’s just asking people questions. No lives at risk. Practice with a friend, if you need to!</p>

<h2>7. Create a headline</h2>
<p>A great headline can be the difference between getting paid to write an article and getting rejected.</p>
<p>To test out whether your idea has now gelled and is ready to be pitched to picky well-paying magazine editors, try to create a headline for it. Use the headline style of your target publication.</p>
<p>If you struggle with this, your idea may not be fully baked yet.</p>
<p>Don’t be discouraged if it takes a bit of time to craft a strong headline, though — here’s a look at my <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>headline-writing process</a>.</p>
<p>You’ll need your headline to succeed with the next step in your article-writing journey.</p>

<h2>8. Write a query</h2>
<p>You might think that about now, I’d be telling you, “It’s time to write your article.”</p>
<p>But wait!</p>
<p>Article writing in a vacuum, without an editor’s input, is a recipe for rejection (or at best, a low fee). A lot of newbie freelance writers make this mistake. But most well-paid publications aren’t excited about pre-written content.</p>
<p>Their editor wants to help shape the story, and be confident it’s what they want. (Also, they want to make sure it’s not duplicate content you’ve sent 10 other places.)</p>
<p>And that, writer friends, is why we write query letters.</p>
<p><strong>Your query needs to do two things:</strong></p>
<li>Make a compelling case that your story belongs in their publication now — and..</li>
<li>Convince the editor that <em>you</em> are the writer who should get the assignment.</li>
<p>There are many ways to go about this, but here’s a basic template that works reliably:</p>
<div class=”whitebox”>
<p><strong>Hi </strong>[editor’s name] –</p>
<ol type=”a”>
<li><strong><em>Fascinating opening question or lead sentence. </em></strong><em>[i.e. “Life coaches and career experts everywhere urge you to do what you love.&nbsp; But what about those things you hate — paying the bills, writing thank-you notes, cleaning the oven, walking the dog on a cold night, going to the dentist, washing the car?”]</em></li>
<li><strong><em>1-2 Paragraphs (if needed) that provide supporting facts and flesh out the idea.</em></strong></li>
<li><strong><em>“Nut graf” that provides proposed headline and sums up what the article would tell readers</em></strong><em>. [i.e., “In my proposed article, ‘Stopping Seattle’s Rat Invasion,’ readers would learn what officials are doing about this problem, as well as what they can do to discourage rats on their property.”</em></li>
<li><strong><em>Additional details on what the article would provide readers, who would be interviewed, etc. </em></strong><em>[i.e., “For my piece on Seattle’s rat problem, I would interview local homeowners who’ve had rat problems, including Joe Smith, who trapped 40 rats on his property this winter using caviar-baited traps; pest-control experts from the city’s Department of Construction and Inspection; and Cindy Lou Who, author of</em> Getting Rid of Rats<em> [Wiley 2017].”</em></li>
<li><strong><em>Information that reveals knowledge of the publication.</em></strong><em> [As in: “I’ve noticed there haven’t been many articles on car insurance in AAA Journeys recently, so I thought a piece on how to lower your rates would bring that aspect of AAA’s operations into the spotlight.”]</em></li>
<li><strong><em>Describe why readers would be particularly interested in this topic at this time (the ‘news hook’). </em></strong><em>[‘Since spring is when the rat population booms, these tips should be particularly timely for your March issue.”]</em></li>
<li><strong><em>Short bio.</em></strong><em> [“I am a Seattle-based freelance business and community issues writer.” A 1-sentence short list of your top credits can follow – “My work has appeared in Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business, and other publications” – if you have some worth mentioning.]</em></li>
<li><strong><em>Request for consideration. </em></strong><em>[“May I write this article for you?”]<br><strong><br>Signature</strong></em></li>
<p><strong>Big tip:</strong> Write your whole query in the style of your target publication! Here’s how:</p>
<li>Analyze what sorts of words, sentence lengths, vocabulary they use.</li>
<li>Sculpt your query so that the editor can easily imagine you writing for their pages.</li>
<li>Be sure to drop in a quote or two, so the editor sees you know how to get interesting ones that move the story forward.</li>
<p><strong>A bigger tip:</strong> Don’t talk a lot about yourself. Let your idea make the sale. Pro freelance writers take 1-2 lines at the end of their query to talk about what they know that makes them the writer for the story.</p>
<p>As far as what to put in your email subject line (and yes, mostly these days you’ll be emailing editors), I went over that in detail recently <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>here</a>.</p>

<h2>9. Write more queries</h2>
<p>This is an important step. After you send off that query, don’t sit by the computer refreshing your email every 5 minutes. Write more queries! That’s what successful freelancers who get paid to write articles do.</p>
<p>This is simply a numbers game. The more ideas you come up with, research, craft into queries and send, the more likely you will get assignments.</p>
<p>Assume nothing’s going to happen with Query One, and move straight to developing more ideas and writing more queries.</p>

<h2>10. Get an assignment and contract</h2>
<p>OK, this one is out of your control. But if you follow all the steps before this one, at some point, you’ll likely connect with an editor who wants you to write an article.</p>
<p>Once you have an assignment — and sign a contract that clarifies your topic, payment, payment terms, rights, deadline, and wordcount — you’re ready to write and get paid for your article.</p>
<p><strong>Quick contract tips for publications:</strong></p>
<li>Try to get paid on acceptance, rather than publication</li>
<li>See if they’ll include a ‘kill fee’ you get if they don’t use your article</li>
<li>Try to retain some resale rights</li>
<li>Most of that boilerplate isn’t going to matter</li>
<p><strong>A word about fees:</strong> Increasingly, editors seem to ask freelance writers what they charge for an article, instead of stating their fee. Resist this trend, and ask what they typically pay. Most pubs have a usual rate…but many are exploring whether they can get it cheaper. If they won’t say, try asking around your <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>writer network</a> to see what you can find out.</p>

<h2>11. Finish your interviews</h2>
<p>Scored an assignment? It’s time to go back to your sources and get the rest of your interviews done. There may be new people you haven’t spoken to yet, and others who you pre-interviewed and may just have a few additional questions left.</p>
<h3>Think like an editor</h3>
<p>The key thing here is to make sure you get <em>all</em> points of view on your topic. Not just the one you agree with. Your editor expects freelance writers to provide balanced reporting and will want to know what all the different stakeholders think.</p>
<li>You might need to hear from politicians, CEOs, customers, community activists, regular people in the community.</li>
<li>Try to get a sense of what they <em>all</em> think. Don’t make the mistake of interviewing three book authors with similar points of view, and no other types of sources.</li>
<p>Since this post is called ‘How to Write an Article’ and not ‘How to Conduct Great Interviews,’ I’ll leave it there. Got more tips for you on how to get awesome interview quotes <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>here</a> and <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>here</a>.</p>
<h3>A note about recording</h3>
<p>Lots of freelance writers ask me about recording interviews. I learned to type and take notes fast, and don’t record anymore. It just creates more work for you!</p>
<li>If you do record, there are plenty of free and cheap tools to enable that. But…always also take notes. Because technology <em>will</em> fail you.</li>
<li>Remember that your live interview is just a starting point. It’s OK to shoot them an email to clarify a fact or add one quick insight later!</li>
<li>My stock final question is, “Where is the best place to contact you when I remember the important question I’ve forgotten to ask you just now?”</li>

<h2>12. Organize your notes</h2>
<p>By this point you’ve probably got a stack of interviews, research links, notes, and ideas. You’re starting to worry you have more than you can possibly fit in the article.</p>
<p>And…that means you’re done. When you hear that third expert saying much the same thing as the first one, you’ve probably got what you need.</p>
<p>Now, it’s time to organize this mess so that it’s easy to write your story.</p>
<p><strong>Here’s my normal process:</strong></p>
<li>Highlight notes for the good parts.</li>
<li>Boil that down into a quick outline of the top ideas, quotes, and facts that must be included.</li>
<li>Pick what will make a good opener for the story and write it.</li>
<p>From there, it usually starts to organize itself and flow along.</p>
<p><strong>Note: </strong>If you don’t organize your notes, writing your article takes practically forever, what with all the leafing through the pile to find that one quote you wanted. You might think skipping organization is a time-saver, but trust me, it’s not.</p>

<h2>13. Write your article</h2>
<p>Are you excited? It’s finally time to write your article!</p>
<p>A typical magazine article has four basic parts to it, which I’ll go over below.</p>
<p><strong>The secret to writing a first draft…fast.&nbsp;</strong>I want to give you a big article-writing tip for creating a strong first draft: Try putting aside all your notes and quotes, and just writing the story.</p>
<li>You know what the important parts are by now. Often, they will naturally rise to the top of your brain as you write.</li>
<li>Try staying in the moment and dashing off a quick draft. Leave blanks for names or notes to check spelling and exact quote. Write the gist of the story, from your head, fast as you can.</li>
<li>Or as I learned years ago, at a training put on by the <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism:</a> write without notes, write without quotes, and write without attribution.</li>
<p>Just tell the best story you can. Staying in the storytelling flow is the most efficient way to create a strong reported article.</p>
<p><strong>This ‘spit draft’ will often be a lot better</strong> than what you’ll come up with if you cobble the draft together slowly, shuffling through your notes, stopping and looking up names, and rechecking exact quotes as you go.</p>
<p>I’ve often spent a grinding, 8-hour day making all that happen. Instead, see if you could create a first draft in short order. Then, refer to your notes and outline to fill in details and make sure there isn’t an important point you forgot to include.</p>
<p>Now that you have that big-picture, ‘how to write an article’ process tip, it’s important to understand article structure, so your draft has all the key pieces needed to impress your editor.</p>
<p>Let’s break down the four main parts of a typical magazine article, and how to write them.</p>
<h3>The lede</h3>
<p>This is journo-speak for the lead sentence or three, or the beginning of your article. Simply put, the lede needs to be fascinating. Its job is to compel readers to continue reading the rest of the story.</p>
<p>Don’t write a ‘wind-up’ or ‘<a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>throat-clearing lede</a>,’ where you take five paragraphs to get to the point (unless this is a very long article, and the publication’s style allows for this). Readers generally don’t have the patience for that anymore.</p>
<p>Instead, cut to the chase with something that makes us just have to keep reading. For instance, I once began a reported story with, “Briefly, it was Bambi in bondage.” You want to know what that’s about, no?</p>
<p>Here’s one I read this month, from a long feature about through-hiking in Florida, in <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”><em>Outside</em> magazine</a>:</p>
<blockquote readability=”8″><p>Everyone told Tom Kennedy to expect flooded trails when he hiked through Big Cypress National Preserve in the spring of 2015. But as he sloshed&nbsp;through miles of waist-deep swamp water that hid&nbsp;alligators and aggressive snakes, the trail quickly got the better of him.</p></blockquote>
<p>After that opener, most folks are reading on to paragraph two, I’d wager.</p>
<p>It’s a hallmark of amateur freelance writers that their ledes are boring. You want people to read your whole article, after all the hard work you put in, right? Make that lede shine, and they will.</p>
<p>Remember, this lede serves double-duty, as you may also use it in your proposed query letter to try to get hired. Spend some time on it — I’d say I rewrite mine dozens of times, typically, before I’m satisfied.</p>
<h3>The ‘nut graf’</h3>
<p>A paragraph or three on from the lede, after you’ve finished that opening anecdote, interesting fact, or brief expert quote, it’s time to orient readers. They won’t read through a long piece without having a sense of what they’re going to find out if they do.</p>
<p><strong>The nut graf (or nut paragraph)</strong> is the orientation guide.</p>
<p>Here’s one my friend and <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Freelance Writers Den</a> bootcamp contributor Linda Formichelli wrote for trade magazine <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”><em>Club Industry</em></a>:</p>
<blockquote readability=”11″><p>If you believe the news, we’re a country full of half-awake zombies who need to chug caffeine just to make it through the day. While the reality isn’t quite that bad, many Americans <i>are</i> sleep deprived, and it’s harming their health. We spoke with health clubs and sleep medicine experts about why health clubs should help their members get the Z’s they need—and how to do it.</p></blockquote>
<p><strong>Note: </strong>A strong nut graf sends your reader on to complete the story with the confidence that they understand the direction this article will take — but not with enough info that they feel fully informed and stop reading.</p>
<h3>The body</h3>
<p>After the nut graf, it’s time to lay out the rest of your article. The body of your story should be well-organized, with each paragraph and topic logically flowing on to the next.</p>
<p>Profile that rock star. Spotlight the experts who want us to drink kombucha. Tell your story.</p>
<p>These days, this will often involve subheads, bullets, or a list of points to help readers navigate through the rest of your information.</p>
<p>A few tips for the body:</p>
<li><strong>Simplify.</strong> If you research and interview like I do, you likely won’t be able to fit everything you’ve learned into this article. Look for side issues you could prune out and possibly spin into another article.</li>
<li><strong>Watch your transitions.</strong> Your article body shouldn’t jump abruptly from topic to topic. Read the last sentence of one paragraph and the first sentence of the next. Do they make sense together? If not, adjust.</li>
<li><strong>Organize sources.</strong> Try not to ping-pong back and forth between your sources and quotes…it’ll get confusing for the reader. Introduce an expert, use them, and then use the next one. Maybe come back to the first expert toward the end.</li>
<li><strong>Quote short and zingy.</strong> Usually, 1-2 sentences is good. Don’t use a quote where you could sum up a point narratively. Quotes should add insight, show the personality of the subject, or convey something that would be lost if you rephrased it in narration. Don’t overuse quotes.</li>
<p><strong>Tip for longer articles:</strong> Outline the sections you’ll need, and give each a proposed wordcount. This will help you write to length and avoid having to do a ton of cutting later.</p>
<h3>The conclusion</h3>
<p>Every article must end — and it should end in a snappy way. This is the final thought you are giving the reader, so make it count.</p>
<p>Writing a strong conclusion also helps prevent editor chopping from the bottom (a habit many editors have). If you have a strong final point, the editor’s more likely to come to you and ask you where to shrink the piece down, giving you more control over your article’s final form.</p>
<p>I love ending articles with one last, insightful quote. Other ways to wrap a story include talking about what may happen next with this news or trend, or simply doing a quick recap of what we’ve learned.</p>

<h2>14. Boil it down (editing)</h2>
<p>Congratulations — you have a first draft! Now, it’s time for burnishing it to greatness in the editing process.</p>
<p>Remember, your editor didn’t want the first 750 words that come into your head. They want the 750 most concise, sharp, accurate, style-appropriate words they can get on their assigned topic.</p>
<p>And no, they don’t secretly want 1,500 words from you. Turn in a piece way over assigned length, and you risk having a cranky editor.</p>
<h3>The road to article greatness</h3>
<p>It begins by going through your draft for anything that should be cut or boiled down. Start big and go small.</p>
<li>Any paragraphs that are redundant? Cut.</li>
<li>How about sentences? Cut.</li>
<li>Extra words? (Looking at you, ‘very,’ ‘just,’ and ‘really’…). Cut.</li>
<p>Once you’ve shrunk out the fat, you can go back to your notes for points you hated to leave out, and add more meat.</p>
<h3>Final read-thru tips</h3>
<p>Finally, give it another read-through to make sure it still all flowing smoothly and making sense. During that re-read, also think about the publication’s tone and whether your word choices and sentence lengths are all conforming well. Adjust as needed.</p>

<h2>15. One last fact-check…</h2>
<p>Here’s an often-overlooked step that will save you a lot of heartache. Once you’ve edited your draft and it’s ready to turn in, go back through one last time and re-check all your statistics, quotes, and facts.</p>
<p>You’ll often discover you’ve got a figure or name-spelling wrong. Or you linked to the wrong site, or have attributed a quote to the wrong person.</p>
<p>The fewer errors in your story, the less likely it is your editor gets suspicious that you’re sloppy. And then decides to go over your draft with a magnifying glass to look for issues…and you get back a sea of red ink.</p>

<h2>16. File your article</h2>
<p>This might seem like an obvious step, but at this point in the process, many freelance writers balk. You want to edit it some more! You want to wait a few more days!</p>
<p>Don’t. You can’t get paid to write articles by overthinking. You’ve written your draft, edited, fact-checked. Maybe let it sit overnight for one final read, but that’s it.</p>
<p>Time to press ‘send’ and fire off that draft to your editor.</p>

<h2>17. Respond to editor feedback</h2>
<p>Next comes a critical phase that may decide whether you can cut it in the world of well-paid articles: Your editor will want changes.</p>
<p>Unless the requested changes insert errors, misconstrue what one of your sources said, or fundamentally change the drift of your story… your job is to cheerfully make those changes.</p>
<p>Remember, they know their style and their readers better than you do. Usually, editor suggestions will make your piece better, so try to stay open-minded.</p>

<h2>18. Finalize and invoice</h2>
<p>Hopefully, you’re able to conclude edits fairly painlessly, and your editor lets you know your article is now finalized. If you haven’t invoiced when you sent your first draft in (my personal habit), send your invoice now (check out our detailed guide to <a href=””>freelancer invoicing</a> for lots of tips).</p>
<p>For extra credit… <strong>send in another article query along with that bill.</strong> Keep the momentum going and land another assignment, while the editor is feeling happy about the piece you just did.</p>
<h2>How to write an article — your way</h2>
<p>There you have it — your complete guide for how to write an article for great-paying publications. I hope this helps you move up to better article-writing jobs.</p>
<p>Don’t like some of my tips on how to write an article that pays? That’s cool. Experiment and create your own process!</p>
<p>I boiled this down from 12 years writing 3-4 articles a week plus 15+ years of freelance work…but if something else works better for you and gets you the lucrative article assignments, then it’s all good.</p>
<p><em><strong>Want to learn more about how to get paid to write articles?</strong></em> Check out the <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Freelancers Writer Den</a>.</p>
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<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Tue, 23 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000 Carol Tice
article writing
how to write an article
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