I recently received my ID badge from The Association of Freelance Writers and because I'd had my hair cut in a different style since the last card, I had to get new photos done. If you are serious about your freelance article writing, and you're not a member of any official group, then I'd highly recommend that you join one. Why? Well being a member of one of the groups out there helps you to mark yourself as a professional and not just an amateur playing at being a writer. I didn't take myself seriously as a writer until I joined such a group. I'd feel nervous about interviewing people and even approaching people to write about. But with my ID card that nervousness left me and I have no qualms about talking to people I might potentially write about.
I am pretty sure that the card has given me confidence and this has shown through to the people I've talked to and given me the credibility I needed. Because I'm freelance, and I'm sure a lot of freelance writers must experience this, when the people I approach ask me who I write for, it's incredibly difficult to give them a straight answer! Fortunately, the last couple of article ideas I've pitched have been accepted and I've been able to tell my potential interviewees where their comments and photos might end up. If people have an idea of where their words will end up, they are generally more willing to talk to you.
Sometimes, I do approach some people I'd like to write about without getting the article commissioned first. I then just let them know the general market I'm aiming for. I show them articles I've had published in the market before to prove to them that I have done it before and that they are safe in my hands. This may seem a topsy-turvy way to do it, but sometimes it's not until I 'm half way through the interviewing and research process that something I hadn't thought of comes up and I use that as the basis for the article instead, (I love it when that happens!) Plus sometimes it's a chance meeting and I might not be able to interview that person again so I do it while I can. But generally, now, I pitch first and interview once I've been commissioned. But, as a good freelance writer knows, you don't always know where you're going to find something to write about until it hits you in the face! The old saying 'Be Prepared' really comes into it's own here. No matter where you go or what you're doing always take your notebook, pen and camera and Dictaphone (if you have one) with you. You never know when inspiration will strike!
This week I'm going back to editing some short stories again as I want to get my subbed story count up. I subbed two articles this week and have another to write when I've finished all the research for it. I should have plenty of time over the Easter holidays to fit it all in (I hope!)
Please consider joining one of the associations geared up for freelance writers - not only will it help you get interviews, and it's useful to put .....member of the association of ...... at the bottom of your pitch, so it shows the editor you are a serious writer - they might, if it's including in your membership, help you out with legal matters should you find yourself in dispute.
A selection of other unions/associations to look at: National Association of Journalists. British Association of Journalists. I know that there are lots more out there so if you belong to any of them, or know people that do, then please let us know your verdict on them and why you joined.