Freelancing can be a crowded space. For some writers I know, the rise of the gig economy means they feel their position as a freelancer is precarious. At a time when it seems like there are freelance writers everywhere and freelancing is uber competitive, how can you set yourself apart?
I’ve found 5 easy ways that you can add value to the editors and clients you work with.
The thing about becoming a high-value freelancer is that your number one goal is to make your editors and clients’ lives easier.
Delivering clean copy on time that nails the brief is pretty much a prerequisite.
But there are loads of other things you can do to be on your way to becoming a client or editor’s go-to freelancer.
1. Deliver your copy early
It goes without saying that you should never miss a deadline.
But one thing editors and clients love more than a freelancer who meets deadlines, is a freelance writer who files early.
I’m not talking about submitting your article 3 weeks early, but if you can deliver your piece a day or two before the due date, you’ll get the editor’s attention.
Do I always manage to do this? No.
But I’ve found that by bringing the due date a few days before the real due date, I also give myself a little wriggle room in case something comes up at the last minute.
In the past I’ve had editors email me saying their designer has unexpectedly got time to work on the layout of a magazine feature.
So they’ve got in touch to ask if I’ve got any copy ready to go.
Sometimes this has been up to a week before my story is due.
Thankfully, each time this has happened I’ve had something (not the completed article) to send to them. They’ve always said they appreciate I’m a bit ahead of schedule.
2. Source, label and organise photos
This is a bit of a contentious one, I know.
More and more I’m being asked to source images (either by taking my own or asking PRs to provide them).
I personally don’t have an issue with this and am happy to do it.
But if you are going to provide images, make sure you do it in a way that is useful for your editor or client.
A few months ago I was talking to an editor of a publication with a big circulation and she was complaining (and rightly so) about writers who send her Dropbox links with images.
The problem wasn’t the link, but the fact that too many times the images are either too big, too small, ill-labelled or there are too many for her to wade through.
Find out what resolution the publication needs and size the images accordingly.
Choose the best shots, include any mandatory photo credits and label them accurately.
3. Include a section for sub-editors
Ever since I started freelancing full time, I’ve realised how important it is to keep meticulous records of case study details, quotes and any links to studies you refer to.
At the end of each article I have a section called “information for fact check” – I think Rachel, from Rachel’s List simply calls this section “for subs”.
In this section I put all the things I think fact checkers, editors, clients or sub-editors might need to know.
That includes case study contact details, where they can find certain statistics I’ve quoted, web links to any businesses or products I’ve mentioned.
Again, this is an easy way to add value to editors and clients.
4. Provide alternative headlines
One of my corporate clients asks that I provide three headlines for each article I submit.
These articles live online so I usually do a listicle-style headline (e.g. “The 3 strategies you need to XX”), a straight headline (e.g. “Why X is so important for your business”) and question-driven headline (e.g. “Struggling with X? Here’s what to do”).
Often I’ll also do a quick SEO search to see what kind of keywords people are searching for and what would be good to include in a heading.
I’ve started doing this more and more with other clients and editors and their feedback is that they really appreciate it.
While they may only use one headline on the online article, I’ve seen my alternative headlines appear as social media headlines on Twitter or Facebook.
5. Connect editors and clients with others who can help them
It may seem counterintuitive to recommend other freelance writers to editors or clients, but quite often I don’t have the skill or capacity to take on particular jobs.
If I can make a recommendation of an excellent, reliable and experienced freelance writer then I consider it a win-win-win situation.
The other freelance writer wins because they get a new connection and (potentially) some more work, the editor/client wins because they don’t have to search for a freelance writer and I win because I love helping out friends, colleagues and editors.
I really believe that there is plenty of work out there for everyone and as freelance writers we don’t need to add to our isolation by trying to keep all the good work to ourselves.
So there you have it.
Five easy ways to add values to the editors and clients you work with.
Do you have other ways that you add value?
Thanks for this information, Lindy. I just submitted an assignment with extra information that wasn’t listed as a requirement in the writer’s guidelines but I felt it would help the editor. I like the way you presented this so i can add it to my checklist/process.
Thanks JuJu – I’m sure your extra info was appreciated by your editor.
Love your philosophy (see #5), as always, Lindy! Thanks for this piece.
Thank you Anne-Liesse!
Thanks a lot for this post. I love the idea of a section for fact-checkers. But at the moment I include hyperlinks to anything I have sourced online. Is there a downside to using hyperlinks over a dedicated section at the end? Also, do you create it as a separate document and just paste it in at the end when the article is finished? Otherwise, wouldn’t it confuse you as to your running word count while working on the story?
Hi Jess, that’s a good question. If it’s a piece for online then I’ll put in the hyperlinks, but if it’s for print I’ll put all the links in a section at the end. I don’t create a separate section – I just work on the main article and then plonk the bits and pieces in as I go. I often just highlight the main section to work out my word count.