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In this course, author Tom Geller explores the process of writing articles and publications for businesses large and small. The course begins with a look at the preparation you'll need to do, best ways to find assignments, and smart strategies for determining your article approach. Next, the course dives into techniques you can use to brainstorm angles, research, interview experts, finish a piece, and build your portfolio.
- Adopting technical tools
- Gathering reference materials
- Defining an article
- Finding assignments
- Determining your approach
- Conducting interviews
- Managing revisions
- Following up
Skill Level Appropriate for all
There are a few things I like to do after handing in an article's final revision. They aren't really about writing per se, but following through will help you keep track of clients, build your business, and improve your writing processes. Now, not all will be relevant to you, especially if you wrote the article as a part of the steady job and you don't plan to build a writing business. Still, these steps don't take much time, and they could help you out later. I have broken them into three categories: Record, Plan, and Communicate. First, Record.
You should already be keeping track of business contacts in an address book. Now, add to it everyone who is involved with your article: the person who assigned it, its editors, and everyone you interviewed for it. Be sure to say who each person is, or you're likely to forget after you've collected a few hundred names. Also, file your materials in a systematic way. I separate my writing by client, and each client section on my computer there are folders labeled Current and Completed. When a pieces done it's a simple matter of checking everything over and then moving it into the Completed folder. Next, Plan.
If your publisher told you when the article is going to appear, make a note in your calendar to check for it a few days after that date. Then when it does appear, grab a digital copy for your online portfolio and ask for a paper copy if there's a printed version. If you're getting paid for the article, note expected payment date as well, and be prepared to follow up if you haven't gotten your money by then. By the way, the publication might expect you to send them an invoice. Check with your contact there if you're not sure. I also record the payment amount in my accounting program so I can plan upcoming cash flow.
Finally, Communicate. Make sure that nobody is expecting anything else from you, such as that invoice that I mentioned. Also, get back in touch with your interview sources when the article comes out. They'll really appreciate it, especially if you can send them a link to the published piece. While we are at it, also send notes to others who have shown an interest in the article. For example, let's say you just published an article about how to learn a foreign language quickly. Why not give a copy to the linguistics professor you've gotten to know at the local coffee shop? You never know what that contact might lead.
Along the same lines, be prepared to use your newly published article as a calling card to show potential clients or your boss the kind of quality writing that you can do. One other thing might be necessary after your article appears. You might have to respond to reader comments, both on the publisher's site and in your private email. But be careful about this. People can be incredibly rude in online comments, and you'll have to avoid the temptation to respond in kind. Check with the publisher if you're not sure what to do.
After you've wrapped up the project, you are truly done. This after-the-article work doesn't take long, and I find it personally satisfying. It gives me the closure that I need to congratulate myself and move on to the next article.