Saturday, May 16, 2020
What I Should Know By Now About the Freelance Life
Yeah, that’s what I should know, but I continue to find myself in the same old predicaments. Having worked as an editor for four different magazines, there are a few hard and fast rules I should have picked up on by now, but every now and then I find myself with temporary amnesia. It’s been a rough week.
Lesson number one is that you can never really trust an advertiser to write an article that they will not use to self promote. We try to have plenty of special advertising sections in our publications so that we can keep everyone happy and give them the opportunities to provide their own copy or have a piece written about them. This month, I asked an advertiser to help write a health article, and we asked specifically that they not discuss their practice or their treatments. (I did this because of the above-mentioned trimmed budget for writers). The piece that was turned in was entirely self-promotional, and I found out at the last minute that a competitor had agreed to sponsor the page. Two sales reps were then upset. I had no idea who was sponsoring what, so this created an issue I had to fix, meaning I had to rewrite the health article myself and run the trimmed-down advertorial piece in another section. This all happened Friday morning before I even had my coffee. I’ve learned my lesson—advertorial stays advertorial and editorial stays editorial.
Lesson number two is that I should always batch work when I can. You would think as a freelance writer and editor I would have learned this by now. Did I also mention I decided to start up a podcast during COVID-19? The first week our shelter-in-place orders came out, I spent too much time wringing my hands, trying to figure out how my husband and I were both going to work in the same house with the kids here doing remote learning. In my defense, I didn’t even know if the magazines were going to be produced for May until the last minute.
But I know about the concept of batch working. I’ve read every productivity article there is about how to do it. I found myself editing and uploading a podcast episode Thursday night at 9 p.m. after putting in a full day at work, and I’m writing the copy I’m in charge of for one of the magazines today. Yes, there were some sections I didn’t want to pull together because I was afraid they would be cut, but there are things like the editor’s letter that I could have written in advance. It’s always the same length and I know when it’s due. But did I batch podcast scripts, blog posts for my website, articles, etc. ahead of time in the past two weeks when I had down time? No. I swear I’m learning my lesson this time.
What are some lessons you’ve learned as a writer? Please tell me I’m not the only disorganized mess around here! (I really think I’m just missing my alone time in the house to be honest).
Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also hosts a podcast called Missing in the Carolinas. Visit her website at FinishedPages.com.