At a party late last year, the owner of a new local web site asked me about freelancing. He’d been soliciting articles for his site from business owners and people who liked writing for exposure; he wanted to know how to attract professionals.
“Well, you’re going to have to start paying them,” I said. (Too frank? The party was hosted by a generous sponsor who’d paid for an open bar.)
Seriously, though, there are three things I just wish editors would do that would make everyone’s lives a little easier. This applies to blog editors as well as those in the print spectrum.
Offer pay–and not pennies per word either. If you want people (potential writers) to take you seriously as a business owner and editor, you need to make sure you are taking writers seriously, and offering rates so low that they are a joke is a great way to show how little you care.
Offer sample copies, and make them easy to buy. I just tried to get a sample copy of a magazine I liked, but didn’t want to put my credit card number onto their UNSECURE (http:// vs https://) server. When I called and asked if they would take Paypal, I was told that only their merchandise can be paid for through Paypal. This is for a $3 magazine. Now I have to write them a check and stick it in the mail because they can’t code their Web server correctly? I might just skip this mag altogether.
Provide writer’s guidelines. It’s really important that writers are familiar with your blog, magazine, or other publication. But on the other hand, I shouldn’t have to sit there with my sample copy counting the number of words in an article so I know how long my piece should be. I shouldn’t have to guess whether a certain department accepts freelance or not. If this is all spelled out in your guidelines (which are online as a PDF or HTML file, not ones that I have to send in a SASE for) you save both of us time.
Feels good to get that off my chest, actually! Editors, take note–you’re affecting my health ;)