On time, every time

Want to keep those commissions flowing? Why not start by following Emily Rookwood’s simple, but important, rules for success?

We all know that securing your first freelance commission with a publication can be tricky (you might want to read Phin Foster’s piece on improving your chances) but ensuring you get re-commissioned can be even harder.

Editors prefer to use tried and tested writers, people they can rely on to pitch interesting and appropriate stories and then a) file on time and b) write their article to length.

A surprisingly large percentage of writers fail to do one or both of these things. If you submit your work punctually and adhere to your word count you will instantly score freelancer points. Get yourself a reputation for filing late or wildly off your word count and you are unlikely to find yourself with another commission.

As an editor (commissioning, managing or otherwise), chasing freelancers for copy or trying to sensitively cut a 3,000 word essay to the commissioned 1,200 words can be incredibly frustrating and time consuming.

Writing to length not only helps the editor, designer and sub-editor but the contributor too: file a well-structured piece to length and your article will be published as you intended, without drastic cuts and in your own voice (give or take a few tweaks).

This, of course, is not to encourage you to submit substandard copy in order to meet a deadline or word count. Should you need more time to complete your commission properly then discuss it with the commissioning editor. You should inform them in good time (not two days after the deadline) that you need an extension, clearly explaining why you need the additional time. Asking how much leeway they can provide will also help. We all understand that sometimes interviews get delayed or contacts are slow to provide key information, however, you should allow for this during the planning stage.

If you are thinking to yourself that you always file to length and on time, then well done. You now simply need to ensure you pitch effectively and deliver interesting copy. However, if you are quietly double checking deadlines in your diary and frantically cutting paragraphs from your copy just remember this – boring copy can be improved, slightly confused copy can be restructured. Late, short or overly long copy is often simply unusable.

Emily Rookwood is managing editor of Spear’s Wealth Management

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