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Practical Help for Freelance Writers
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How to Get Paid as a Freelancer: 5 Reliable Payment Options https://www.makealivingwriting.com/options-to-get-paid/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=options-to-get-paid
http://www.makealivingwriting.com/?p=13417
<p>There’s a basic freelancing question that mystifies many writers: “How do I get paid, exactly?”</p>
<p>When you’re used to an employer handing you a paycheck every week or two, it can be intimidating to realize that as an independent contractor, you’ll only get paid if you figure out your freelancer payment options — and make it happen.</p>
<p>That’s probably why many writers gravitate to content mills and mass platforms that act as intermediaries. Then, you know your payment will come from the platform so you don’t have to stress about how to get paid as a freelancer.</p>
<p>Of course, once you see how tiny that payment is after the platform takes its cut, you’ll likely be looking to cut out the middleman so you can <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/make-money-writing/”>make more money writing</a>.</p>
<p>Fortunately, there are several reliable ways to get paid as a freelancer directly from your clients.</p>
<p>First, I’ll go over the various freelancer payment methods — and then, I’ve got a few quick tips on how to structure your contract to ensure you don’t get stiffed.</p>

<h2>The Best Freelancer Payment Methods</h2>
<p>My simple answer to how to get paid as a freelancer is: <strong>However the client wants.</strong></p>
<p>You may have a preferred method, sure. But the reality is that we’re here to serve clients. You’ll have more success if you’re willing to be flexible and work with their preferred method.</p>
<p>Sometimes your client is flexible and you have options, though. If so, here are proven options to get paid:</p>
<p><em>Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, we may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.</em></p>

<h3>1. Physical check</h3>
<p>Yes, this is still a completely valid way to get paid! And many large companies continue to cut checks to freelancers once a month, or biweekly. If you have a client like this, good luck getting them to make an exception and pay you differently.</p>
<p>Of course, this means you can have that “your check is in the mail” problem, where the client insists they’ve mailed out your check, but it doesn’t arrive. You may be aware that <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/21/us/politics/postal-service-mail-delivery.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>the U.S. Mail has slowed,</a> since 2020. Mail can legitimately get lost, too.</p>
<p>You also need to watch out for online <a href=”https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0159-fake-checks” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>check scams</a>, where the check bounces after you’ve turned in your writing work. (If you take checks, be sure to check with your bank and make sure the check has cleared.)</p>
<p>On the plus side, now that there’s online banking, you may be able to use a smartphone to digitally deposit your check from the comfort of home (and to check that it’s cleared).</p>
<p>Be warned that accepting foreign checks can incur a fat fee — I once was charged $34 for depositing a Canadian check, for instance. Ouch! If you’re dealing with cross-border issues, other options will probably be more desirable.</p>

<h3>2. Free and fee-based online payments</h3>
<p>In the past few years, no-fee online payments have become more prevalent — yay! But there are still reasons to using fee-charging platforms. Let’s compare and contrast:</p>
<h4>Free payment services</h4>
<p><a href=”https://venmo.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Venmo</a>, <a href=”https://www.zellepay.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Zelle</a>, <a href=”https://www.google.com/wallet/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Google Wallet</a>, and <a href=”https://apps.apple.com/us/app/apple-wallet/id1160481993″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>ApplePay</a> are among the popular free alternatives I’ve either used myself or heard good things about. Increasingly, big banks are aligning with these solutions, so you can hook your debit card up to one of these. You can also send and receive money free through <a href=”https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/03/send-money-to-friends-in-messenger/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Facebook Messenger</a>.</p>
<p>These aren’t generally used for business and don’t have the record-keeping options of more robust, fee-charging solutions, but are useful in a pinch. If you use them, be sure to print yourself out a receipt to save for your taxes.</p>
<h4>Fee-charging services</h4>
<p>When it comes to fee-based options, <a href=”https://www.paypal.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>PayPal</a> is the dominant online-payments provider worldwide. It’s widespread, but also widely hated by many for its fees (generally, 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction).</p>
<p>Also, people in some countries are prohibited from using PayPal (check if PayPal services are available in your country <a href=”https://www.paypal.com/ga/webapps/mpp/ua/residence-full” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here</a>). If that’s you, another online-payment option will be needed.</p>
<p>Online payments have the advantage of being instant, which is a real plus if your bank account is low. The dark side is the fees, for any of the robustPayPal charges 2.9 percent, for instance. If you’re running a thriving freelance business of, let’s say, $60,000 a year, you’d give up $1,740 of that in fees if you got paid entirely through PayPal. It’s a major bite!</p>
<p>Many clients prefer to pay through PayPal, so it’s worth getting an account set up. You may limit the gigs you can get without it.</p>
<h4>International payment processors</h4>
<p>Research online to see which providers currently accept payments from your country, and shop rates for the best deal. Transferwise (now known as <a href=”https://wise.com/us” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Wise</a>), <a href=”http://www.payoneer.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Payoneer</a>, <a href=”https://go.2checkout.com/us” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>2CheckOut</a>, and <a href=”https://www.dwolla.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Dwolla</a> are among the popular portals for enabling international payments. They tend to offer lower fees than PayPal.</p>
<p>Fees and terms vary and change often — check the provider of your choice for details.</p>
<h4>Workarounds</h4>
<p>There are other fee workarounds, such as having your client use Mass Pay on PayPal if they have that feature, or having them select “Send Money to a Friend,” to make it free. (You’re not supposed to do that on business transactions, and it can get them in trouble with PayPal if they get busted. So I don’t recommend asking your clients do it. But… people do.)</p>
<p>Sadly, most businesses aren’t up for paying processing fees — I’ve seen deals fall apart over this issue, so don’t press it if a client says no. Instead, build the fees into your bid.</p>

<h3>3. Bank transfer</h3>
<p>Also known variously as ACH (automated clearing house) or EFT (electronic funds transfer), bank transfers fire the money straight from your client’s bank account into yours. If the transaction is international, your bank may slap with you a fee of $30 or more, so watch out on that — this is why writers turn to solutions such as Wise for that.</p>
<p>If you have an ongoing retainer gig (particularly a domestic one), bank transfer is the ideal way to go. No more checking the mailbox or paying PayPal fees — you set a day of the month for automatic payment, and it pops right in.</p>
<p>To set these up, you have to give your bank account and routing number to your client, usually by filling out a bank form. This may seem hinkey, but without your personal information — online banking login, your picture ID, answers to your security questions — they can only put money <em>in.</em></p>
<p>Obviously, you’ll want to vet clients you set up bank transfers with to <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/is-freelance-writing-a-sure-thing/”>make sure they’re legit</a> before you go down this road.</p>

<h3>4. Accepting credit cards</h3>
<p>Clients will often want to pay with a credit card, especially if you’re working on costly, multi-month projects such as book ghostwriting gigs. The client may not have $30,000 up their sleeve, and may need to charge it.</p>
<p>Taking card payments requires a payment service provider (PSP) of some kind. Some of the options mentioned above, including Paypal, Dwolla, and virtual wallets, can play this role. Which is great, because accepting cards used to involve purchasing clunky credit-card reader machines or cash registers. Fortunately, today there are virtual providers available, including <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/go/square” rel=”nofollow”>Square</a> and <a href=”https://stripe.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Stripe</a>.</p>
<p>I’ve used both of these, and have found their process super-easy. If you want to physically process a client’s card, there’s also that handy physical Square reader you can attach to your smartphone.</p>
<p>The catch? Credit-card processors take out fees, too. <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/go/square” rel=”nofollow”>Square</a> charges 2.75 percent, for instance. PayPal also can be used as a credit-card processor, for a small additional monthly payment plus its usual fees. Make sure you’re getting the lowest fee rate you can, and remember to build those fees into your project bids.</p>

<h3>5. Tradeouts</h3>
<p>Yes, you’d rather get paid in cold, hard cash. But sometimes, it’s just not possible. Your client desperately needs your writing help, you love what they do, but they’re broke. Or one of you is in a country where it’s hard to get or receive payments.</p>
<p>One solution is a tradeout, in which you get paid in goods or services the company provides. There are plenty of companies you wouldn’t do this for, but even now, I wouldn’t turn up my nose at getting paid in chocolate, hotel stays, or organic beef.</p>
<p>Tradeouts tend to be win-win, because the company pays wholesale prices for the goods but you’ll invoice at retail value. So the company in essence gets a discount and doesn’t have to lay out any cash. In return, you hopefully get some goods you enjoy, and might not otherwise be able to afford. You can even triangulate a tradeout, where you get one of your clients to pay one of your vendors — I’ve done that for people in countries with payment-processing challenges.</p>

<h2>Tips to make sure you get paid as a freelancer</h2>
<p>It’s good to have your payment method set up — but it won’t make a difference if you don’t have a clear contract that nails down when and how you’ll get paid.</p>
<p><strong>Big rule:</strong> Don’t start work for a client without a <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/freelance-contract/” rel>freelance contract</a> in place — and in the case of businesses, an up-front deposit.</p>
<p>If your prospect balks at the idea of giving you 30%-50% up front to get started, be wary. Up-front deposits are standard practice for nearly all types of contractors.</p>
<p>This contract should specify exactly what you’ll do, what the payment will be, and most importantly when the payment(s) are due.</p>
<p>A common blunder is to leave the terms of the final payment vague. This means the client could just keep stalling, saying they haven’t finalized the piece yet, essentially forever.</p>
<p>My preferred phrase: “Final payment is due 14 days after turn-in of final draft or upon final acceptance, whichever is sooner.”</p>
<p>This means there is a maximum 2-week wait before your check is due. Boom. Instead of months of vague promises, calls, threats, until they finally pay your <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/freelancer-invoicing/”>freelancer invoice</a>. Avoid that with strong contract terms!</p>
<p><em><strong>How do you get paid as a freelancer?</strong> </em>Let’s discuss in the comments.</p>
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<p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Wed, 07 Apr 2021 00:00:00 +0000 Carol Tice
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Get Paid to Write Articles: The Freelancer’s Ultimate Guide https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article
https://www.makealivingwriting.com/?p=19580
<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 to learn how to get paid to write articles at top rates.</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=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/bwqdc1SX9tp1Mo9kkr9Qx_vwp_DY7ZBTTwvTPIZVpIF15gVqkpvRSvpD7bHzxR4oo8cCQqE4nH63thjiFEkFbV8=s0″ 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=”freelancewriters.lpages.co”>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=”freelancewriters.lpages.co”><strong>get the free E-Book PDF version</strong></a>.</p>
<hr>
<h3>Table of contents: How to Get Paid A Lot to Write an Article</h3>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#findgoodmarkets”>Find good markets</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#studyyourtargets”>Study your targets</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#generateideas”>Generate ideas</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#researchthefacts”>Research the facts</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#dopreinterviews”>Do quick pre-interviews</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#createaheadline”>Create a headline</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#writeaquery”>Write a query</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#writemorequeries”>Write more queries</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#getanassignment”>Get an assignment and contract</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#finishyourinterviews”>Finish your interviews</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#organizeyournotes”>Organize your notes</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#writeyourarticle”>Write your article</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#boilitdown”>Boil it down (editing)</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#factcheck”>One last fact check…</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#fileyourarticle”>File your article</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#respondtofeedback”>Respond to editor feedback</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#finalize”>Finalize and invoice</a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-to-write-an-article/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-to-write-an-article#generateideas”>Generate ideas</a></strong></li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>

<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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/go/den” 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=”http://whopayswriters.com/#/results” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>WhoPaysWriters</a></strong> for intel on which magazines are paying well, or search up the many available <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/write-for-magazines/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>lists of good-paying markets</a> compiled online.</li>
<li><strong>Browse our market lists.&nbsp;</strong><a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/monster-list-200-freelance-writing-jobs/” 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=”https://www.tradepub.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>trade publications</a> and <a href=”https://thecontentcouncil.org/” 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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/get-paid-to-write-personal-essays/” 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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/credentials-freelance-writer/” 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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<li>What topics do they cover?</li>
<li>What seems popular?</li>
<li>What have they already written about?</li>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<li>Set up <a href=”https://www.google.com/alerts” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Google alerts</a> on your chosen topics</li>
<li>Read press releases on <a href=”http://www.prweb.com/” 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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/darnit-story-idea-published/” 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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<h3>Tips for identifying a news hook</h3>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>

<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/freelance-article-writers-find-facts-fast/” 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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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>Whaaat?</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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/watch-me-write-a-viral-headline/” 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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<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>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<p>There are many ways to go about this, but here’s a basic template that works reliably:</p>
<div class=”whitebox”>
<h4>PUBLICATION QUERY TEMPLATE</h4>
<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>
</ol>
</div>
<p><strong>Big tip:</strong> Write your whole query in the style of your target publication! Here’s how:</p>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/cold-email-subject-lines-proven-formulas” 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>Boom!</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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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=”https://freelancewritersden.com/blog-secret-den-offer” 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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/freelance-journalist-interview-tips/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>here</a> and <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/interview-secrets/” 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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>

<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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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=”https://businessjournalism.org/” 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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/clear-phlegm-blog-posts/” 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=”https://www.outsideonline.com/2399071/florida-national-scenic-trail-thru-hike” 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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/go/den” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Freelance Writers Den</a> bootcamp contributor Linda Formichelli wrote for trade magazine <a href=”https://www.clubindustry.com/” 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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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>
<ol>
<li>
<ol>
<li>
<ul>
<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>
</ul>
</li>
</ol>
</li>
</ol>
<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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/freelancer-invoicing/”>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=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/go/den” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Freelancers Writer Den</a>.</p>
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<p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Wed, 07 Apr 2021 00:00:00 +0000 Carol Tice
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Personal Finance Tips for Freelance Writers: Never Feel Broke Again https://www.makealivingwriting.com/cash-flow-101-freelance-writers-or-feel-broke/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cash-flow-101-freelance-writers-or-feel-broke
http://www.makealivingwriting.com/?p=2358
<p>Hungry writers do terrible things.</p>
<p>We take gigs we know we shouldn’t, because <a title=”Why It’s So F*Ing Hard to be a Freelance Writer” href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/fing-hard-freelance-writer/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>we’re desperate</a> and need the money.</p>
<p>A few months later, we realize this dysfunctional low-payer is sucking up too much time and making us go broke even faster.</p>
<p>Worse, some writers end up having to give up and go crawling back to those day jobs we hate.</p>
<p>Why do so many writers report feast-and-famine cycles and times when they’re out of cash and scrambling for any sort of gig?</p>
<p>Two main reasons:</p>
<ol>
<li>Not enough marketing to get a steady stream of leads</li>
<li>Lack of understanding of cash flow</li>
</ol>

<h2>Cash Flow for Freelancers</h2>
<p>What is cash flow? It’s the movement of money through your business. What you want is cash flowing out of your business slower than cash flows in. That leaves you with cash on hand.</p>
<p>When things go wrong, cash goes out too fast and comes in too slow, and presto — you’re broke.</p>
<p>Often, I meet writers who early quite well, but still have cash crises. They make enough, but the money never seems to show up fast enough to cover the bills! The timing is off.</p>
<p>With some careful management, you can improve your cash flow, even if you don’t get a raise or more clients.</p>

<h2>10 Personal Finance Tips for Freelance Writers</h2>
<p>Here are some personal finance tips freelancers like yourself can use to change your business so that your cupboard doesn’t get bare:</p>
<p><em>Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, we may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.</em></p>
<h3><strong>1. Earn more</strong></h3>
<p>I know, I just said you wouldn’t have to get a raise or new clients. But in fact, one of the easiest ways to have more cash is to get paid more. So if you can ramp up your marketing, do it. If you have clients you’ve worked for over a year and you have a good relationship, consider <a title=”Raise your freelance rates now” href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/raise-freelance-writing-rates/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>asking for a raise</a>.</p>
<p>If you’re sloppy on some of the cash-flow management tips I give below, simply having more income will help keep you from running into a cash-flow problem. (I promise all the rest of these tips you can do no matter what your client situation.)</p>
<p>Charging appropriate, professional rates for your work instead of rock-bottom Craigslist-ad type rates is a quick route to growing your income. Replacing even one lower-paying gig with a better-paying one will improve the picture. And that will help you stave off Empty Bank Account Syndrome.</p>

<h3><strong>2. Spend less</strong></h3>
<p>Unless you are living off the grid in a yurt in rural Idaho or something along those lines, there are probably expenses you can cut.</p>
<p>For instance, our family made the decision to go down to one car at one point a few years back, even though we had three drivers at home at the time. It takes a decent bit of juggling and taking the bus, but the savings from not insuring and maintaining a second car were well worth it.</p>
<p>We’ve also become fans of shopping Goodwill for kids’ clothes before we hit the retail stores. I saved $300 doing that recently compared with hitting Target first last fall.</p>
<p>I recently met a writer who informed me she has no home phone, Internet, or cable TV bill. She gets by using the library computers and her cell phone.</p>
<p>To cut expenses, take this challenge from <a title=”Your Money or Your Life” href=”http://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life-Transforming-Relationship/dp/1591797306″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”><em>Your Money or Your Life</em></a>: Write down every cent you spend for three months. Analyze your spending patterns and see whether you feel you get a good value for each cost. If not, chop it.</p>

<h3><strong>3. Liquidate assets</strong></h3>
<p>Do you have a garage full of vintage movie posters, antique toys, or other valuable stuff?</p>
<p>Throw it on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or any other similar site, and create a savings account from what you make.</p>
<p>I have friends who’ve taken this large scale in the downturn and have sold off boats and second homes to lower their nut.</p>
<p>Whether you take it large or small scale, getting rid of things you’re not using frees up space, saves on maintenance and storage costs, and give you cash to put in the bank. Speaking of which…</p>

<h3><strong>4. Save more<br></strong></h3>
<p>Once you grow your income, raise cash from selling off belongings, and/or learn to live on less, you should begin to have excess cash — money that doesn’t have to be spent immediately to pay bills. Don’t get all excited and go to Disneyland with it…at least not until you build up a six-month emergency fund.</p>
<p>If you have no cash cushion, it’s time to cut back on any dinners out and movies and trips and such until you’ve got one.</p>
<p>And don’t forget, you’ll also need to be setting aside money to pay your <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/self-employed-freelance-taxes/”>self-employed taxes</a>.</p>
<p>With money in the bank, your lean times become less of a cause for panic. You have money to tide you over.</p>
<p>Feels less scary already, hm?</p>

<h3><strong>5. Get paid faster</strong></h3>
<p>As the years went along in my freelance business, I became increasingly obsessed with asking prospects this question:</p>
<blockquote><p>When will I be paid?</p></blockquote>
<p>Too often, writers plunge in without a contract and only a dim idea of payment terms. Many writers make sure they know the rate of pay, but not necessarily when that money has to be forked over.</p>
<p>The fact is, if your <a title=”Freelance Writers Earn More with a Simple Piece of Paper” href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/freelance-contract/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>freelance contract</a> (you have one, yes?) doesn’t say when you must be paid, then you don’t have to be paid, ever. The client could pay your <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/freelancer-invoicing/”>freelancer invoice</a> five years from now and you couldn’t even sue them. This is the kind of stuff that causes major cash-flow trouble!</p>
<p>Moral of the story: Make sure you define payment terms, especially when the final payment is due. It’s easy to keep the checks coming while you’re in the middle of a big project, but often writers are fuzzy on what triggers the final payment.</p>
<p>I prefer “Final payment due within 14 days of turning in first draft if no changes needed or on acceptance of final draft, whichever comes sooner.” That locks it down so if you don’t hear a peep after you turn in your draft — possibly because the client hopes to delay their final payment — two weeks later your money is due.</p>
<p>If your client is a slow-paying magazine, it may be time to try to renegotiate your payment terms. For instance, I got one foot-dragger to switch from paying on publication to paying 50 percent when I turned in my first draft, which made the long wait for final payment easier.</p>

<h3><strong>6. Bill immediately</strong></h3>
<p>Many writers are confused about when to send clients a bill, or just feel nervous to hit ‘send’ on it. My answer? I send the bill right along with my first draft.</p>
<p>No, I do not wait to see if they like it. Or to find out if they want changes. My bill goes out immediately.</p>
<p>One reason I do that is I find I forget unless I do it right away! The other reason is to get into my client’s billing system as fast as possible.</p>
<p>At many companies, checks are only cut once or twice a month. Dither around a week or three waiting for an editor’s feedback, and you could easily find yourself waiting until next month’s check cycle. Where you might have had a check in two weeks, now that stretches to six or eight. It’s exactly these sort of delays that lead to a cash crunch.</p>

<h3><strong>7. Contact late payers immediately</strong></h3>
<p>After when to bill, the next awkward situation for many writers crops up when the check doesn’t arrive.</p>
<p>Try to keep in mind this is just business. You are running a business, and if people don’t pay you when they’re supposed to, you get into money trouble. So you have to collect on your bills.</p>
<p>I keep strict track of due dates and the day after a check was supposed to turn up, I’m on the phone or emailing the client.</p>
<p>Keep it calm and professional. A typical message from me:</p>
<blockquote readability=”11″><p><strong>Subject line: Checking on invoice #XXX due 04/1/21</strong></p>
<p>Hi client —</p>
<p>I’m just checking in on my bill sent on X date. It was due yesterday, so wanted to make sure you received it.</p>
<p>Can you let me know when I can expect payment?</p>
<p>Thanks –Carol</p></blockquote>
<p>Even better, you can use an accounting tool like <a href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/go/freshbooks” rel=”nofollow”>Freshbooks (free 30-day trial)</a> that will automatically send payment reminders to clients who haven’t paid on time.</p>

<h3><strong>8. Pay bills slower</strong></h3>
<p>Remember those old Paul Masson wine commercials? Here the motto is “Pay no bill before its time.”</p>
<p>If you’re having cash-flow problems, instead of paying bills twice a month, note the due date on each bill and don’t send it until the payment is needed. Yes, this can take up a bit more time as you may end up writing checks more often through the month. But meanwhile, the money stays in your pocket.</p>
<p>To extend this strategy further, there are some bills you can pay late without penalty. Utilities and cable bills often won’t penalize you, for instance, and house taxes can go a little late, too. If something must be paid late to keep a bank balance, delay the bills where you won’t be hit with a late fee or interest charges.</p>

<h3><strong>9. Avoid charges and take discounts</strong></h3>
<p>While we’re talking bills, some offer a discount if you pay it all upfront. If so, you know what to do.</p>
<p>Other bills will ding you with a late fee or charge you interest if you’re slow. Make sure you get those bills to the top of the pile and take care of them first.</p>
<p>Personally, nothing burns me up like knowing I could have taken the family out to dinner, but instead paid a $30 late fee on a credit card and $20 of interest because my payment didn’t get there on time. Watch those credit card due dates to keep more cash, and mail those puppies 10 days ahead of the date to make sure you aren’t charged — the mail is slow these days.</p>
<p>If you have a big bill that shows up at a time of the month when you often are low on cash, call the company and see if you can change your due date. Often, they’re happy to oblige, and you can smooth out a cash-flow dip with a single phone call.</p>
<p>For instance, here at Tice Hall we make split mortgage payments — half at the beginning and half in the middle of the month. That’s easier on cash flow than having to pay the whole amount at once.</p>

<h3><strong>10. Track cash-flow trends</strong></h3>
<p>If you’re having cash-flow problems, I strongly recommend tracking your cash flow. Where is money going? When is money coming in, and from where? In the rush of work and family life, it’s often all a blur and you lose track of where the money all goes.</p>
<p>Keep a profit-and-loss statement that records your cash on hand at the beginning of the month, income and expenditures, and cash at the end. After a few months, you’ll begin to see trends.</p>
<p>Ask yourself: Is cash increasing or slowly draining away? Is there one client whose consistent late payments are the main source of trouble?</p>
<p>You might also track hours for a month to see which clients is truly your lowest hourly rate. How many hours are you giving that client? Maybe it’s time to make a change.</p>
<p>Getting a raise from one low-payer, or finding one new client who pays more promptly can make a big difference.</p>
<p>The whole secret of how I <a title=”How I Made 6 Figures as a Freelance Writer” href=”https://www.makealivingwriting.com/how-i-made-6-figures-freelance-writer/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>built my income to six figures</a> was consistently analyzing cash flow and adjusting accordingly. I dropped low and slow payers and replaced them with better and more prompt payers – simple as that — until I had the income I wanted.</p>

<p><em><strong>How’s your cash flow?</strong></em> Leave a comment and share your personal finance tips for keeping more cash.</p>

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<p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Mon, 05 Apr 2021 03:00:00 +0000 Carol Tice
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