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What Editors Want From Freelance Writer’s Websites

what editors wantDavid A. Boyington who blogs at VideoCDRadio asked in comments:

What does an editor want to see in a sample article that has been posted to my website? How should this sample article be posted?

Imagine for a moment that you’re an editor of a magazine for Seniors. I was actually a founding editor for a senior newspaper which may make this post a bit more real. Let’s suppose that I’ve put together a market listing for Writer’s Digest that says something like this:

Articles for to help seniors get and stay active and other pertinent issues for the 50+ crowd. Briefs for national audience on health, food, humor, etc of 25 – 100 words $50. Articles to 1,000 words, up to $200. Photos $10 each. Email queries with links and NO attachments considered.  (This is NOT a real market listing – do not send me queries etc. Please.)

Now, what would you want if you’d written that listing? How can you make it easy for the editor to quickly discover if you’re a fit or not?

Here’s what I’d hope I’d get:

Briefs  emailed to me without a query in the style of the publication – yes, you’d have to get a copy and read it to see just how briefs worked in my magazine.  I’d also expect you to include full contact info – name, address, phone number and website and your email as part of the sig in your email.

Article ideas sent as a brief query with either a link to the sample section of your website and/or links to two or three articles that demonstrate you can write the length of the piece I want and the tone. Again, this assumes you’ve read the publication so you have some clue about our style. Again include full contact info in your email.

What I wouldn’t want is long rambling emails, and emails with attachments and questions about what I was looking for, or queries without links to something relevant.  Those get discarded becuse I don’t have time to baby you.

Remember, editors are people too. They are busy. Put yourself in their shoes as best you can and figure out what you’d want if you were trying to fill a magazine or find the next best seller.

Which is where your website can help or hinder.

Keep it simple and easy for them to discover that you can write. Make your website clear and direct. A glance should show where the samples are – call them samples or articles. Your list of credits should be easy to find too. Any introduction should be an overview of what you can do for the editor. Treat it as a sample of your writing.

And for heavens sake put your contact info on every page… as a footer or in a single tab so at a glance they can email, call or even snail mail you. Don’t hide it. I’m always amazed at how often I have to hunt down the contact information on sites.

Make it easy for them to give you an assignment or ask to see your proposal. Look at your website as if you were going to hire you. Does it work?

My site, Anne Wayman, demonstrates what I mean. Lisa Jo Rudy does it in a whole different way. So does Sharon Hurly Hall. And these are just a tiny fraction of the sites out there that will help and editor or client decide if the writer is one they probably want to work for.

What tips about websites do you have?


Image: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by ckaroli

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • In my opinion, a person writes similar to the way she/he speaks; when you hear and see that person speak, it reveals personality, disposition, confidence, and knowledge levels that an editor or potential client appreciates knowing – knowledge necessary to make a decision. I compared a few websites to better define my promotional path; I felt that I got much more important related information from the written simplicity in brevity with a video, in 3 minutes, than I did when surfing a more complex website for 10 minutes without a video. I’m very interested in hearing observations, similar to this, from other writers. Thank you.
    David A. Boyington recently posted..Musicians, Singers, SongwritersMy Profile

    • Yes, video is becoming more and more important… I have mixed feelings about that… but it’s obviously totally out of my control

  • Thanks Anne, Carol and Sharon…great tips…you’ve answered some very serious questions.
    David A. Boyington recently posted..Musicians, Singers, SongwritersMy Profile

  • I’m doing website reviews every week now in Freelance Writer’s Den, and I’ve got it boiled down to a pretty basic list of what should be on a writer’s website:

    Contact information visible on every page (and no fill-in email contact forms, ever).
    A good, professional-looking photo of you.
    A lot of clips which are easy to click and read — no downloads required.
    A sense of your background, industries you know, and types of writing you do.
    A sense of your personality and what you’d be like to work with.
    If you want blogging gigs, a blog that shows you understand niche blogging, blog style, and socialization.

    Doesn’t have to be fancy graphically. Mine’s pretty straightforward and has been getting me great clients for years now.
    Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing recently posted..3 Ways to Succeed as a Freelancer by Conducting ExperimentsMy Profile

    • Hi Carol, yeah, that’s about right. Good list, thanks.

  • Good tips as always, Anne. When I was running a magazine, I always wanted an indication that the person querying had read the mag and could write – and I needed to know that within 2-3 paragraphs.

    • Sharon, when deadlines were looming sometimes it was two or three sentences if you’re like me.

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