The more time you spend completing paid writing assignments and the less time you spend looking for them, the more your income increases because your number of billable hours grows. How do you multiply your billable hours? You do it by taking these seven time-tested, field-tested steps to (A) rise to the top of editor’s lists of favorite writers, (B) get new work through existing relationships and (C) build strong relationships with editors who assign a lot of work.
How to Rise to the Top of Editors’ Lists of Favorite Writers
Step One: Turn Work in As Early As Possible
If you can turn work in a week or more early, do it. Turning in work at the last minute with no notice can make editors nervous. Turning it in on time or a little early could net you more work, though you probably won’t stand out from other writers. But turning finished, polished work in exceptionally early makes editors take notice because it is rare.
This does at least two things for you right away. First, it buys you more real estate in the forefront of your editor’s mind. She may assign you another story right away. She will almost certainly be more receptive to new story ideas. Second, if you were really quick, she may see you as a faster, more efficient writer than most and someone who can handle more work simultaneously. She may assign you a couple of pieces next time.
Step Two: Turn In Great Work
Most editors have too much to do to make time for heavy edits. The more polished it is, the easier their job. You save them time.
Step Three: Be Available and Responsive
If an editor loves your work, and needs just one little extra thing here or there, be available, reachable, and prepared to see the project through to completion.
Step Four: Be Professional, Approachable, Likeable and Memorable
A professional attitude that leaves everyone eager to trust you, work with you, and recommend you to others is an asset to you and your editors. Nurture it. People want to work with those they really like to work with. Be approachable and memorable. This always comes back to reflect well on your editors and you.
How to Get New Work Through Existing Relationships
Step Five: It Is Always Easier to Keep An Existing Customer Than It Is to Earn a New One.
This holds true across all businesses, including writing. Whatever the cost to keep an existing editor or client, it will always be harder to find a new one to replace them, and to build that relationship to the same level as an existing customer relationship.
To get new work through existing relationships, simply keep them, maintain them, and nurture them and the new work will come eventually in most cases. Some customers may never hire you again; some will only hire you once in a great while. Some relationships will wane for awhile, and resurge later. Keep them strong and the work will come.
Step Six: Take the Conversation in New Directions
To get altogether new (different) work from existing relationships, realize that you may offer other types of writing that your editor is not aware of while they may need other kinds of work you are not aware of. There may be another area or areas where you can serve the same editor, an intersection between their needs and your offerings that neither of you know exists.
An editor who knew I wrote about technology once told me he didn’t have anything for me. Then he asked me whether I could write about the Internet instead. In my mind, the one is inclusive of the other; in his mind, not so. He was looking for someone to write more at the consumer level about using the Internet rather than about how the technology works. He assumed I could not do that.
Always be restating and expanding the conversation about what you can do and what the editor needs. Otherwise, there may be a pile of work waiting for you that you know nothing about.
How to Build Strong Relationships With Editors Who Assign A Lot Of Work
Step Seven: How to Find Editors Who Assign a Lot of Work
Sometimes, you’ll find out quite by accident who assigns a lot of work when you start writing for a new editor and they reveal their needs. To find out by design, do your research. First, it is much easier for online publishers to quickly put up seemingly countless articles than it is for a print publisher to get as much content out in print in the same period. Start with them.
Look for online publishers with few editors and many publications and/or many articles/much content coming out. Check the author bios. If freelancers write most of the work, these editors hand out a lot of assignments to writers just like you rather than handle them in-house. Simply apply the relationship building tips under Step Five to nurture these relationships and see your workload increase.
David Geer is a 13-year veteran technology writer and journalist whose work appears in numerous publications, such as CSO (Chief Security Officer). Follow David @geercom on Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.