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6 Tips to Create Regular Freelance Writing Clients

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s a business axiom that means that 80 percent of your work and your income is produced by just 20 percent of your clients. The remainder of your money comes from the rest of them.

Regular clients, or “regulars,” are the successful freelancer’s key to success. So, how do you transform a one-time client into a steady one–or nab more assignments from editors you’ve written for in the past? By making their lives easy with these six simple strategies:

Start at the beginning. Everything you do from your first contact with an editor on will make an impression, good or bad. Just because you don’t get a response from an editor doesn’t mean he or she didn’t read your pitch–and have an opinion about it. So, every query you send should be well-written, detailed, and demonstrate your knowledge of the subject. Let the editor know you’re read her publication by suggesting the section of it that your story belongs in, or mentioning a recent article or piece. Editors want to work with content writers who “get” their magazines and their readers.

Give the editor what she wants
. Mastering the art of the query is the first step to creating a relationship. The next is to simply do what you say you will—in other words, deliver. That means meeting your deadline, following the assignment she gave you, sticking to word count, and basically writing what the two of you agreed to. You needn’t bother your editor unless a problem develops that she needs to know about. Better to give you editor a heads-up, say, that you can’t find get in touch with a critical source than to wait until deadline and drop that bomb.

Be pleasant. Your editor requests revisions? Don’t complain. Make sure you understand what he wants, and deliver the rewrite without bemoaning the extra work. (You can do that to your partner or your best friend.) Rewrites are part of freelancing; doing them without drama will endear you to editors.

Pitch regularly—within reason. Within a week or completing your first piece for an editor, pitch a new one. Querying keeps your name in front of an editor and can help cement a relationship, and increases your chances of getting more work. At the same time, don’t inundate an editor with queries. She only has so much work to assign, and keeping up on email isn’t likely to be her highest priority.

Gather information. Turning a one-time assignment into an ongoing relationship means gathering information about the editor in question—her likes, dislikes, and her vision of her magazine and the direction she wants to take it. I keep notes on the publications I write for so I know what kind of pitches they’re looking for, such as if they’re planning a special issue or are looking for more true-life features or service pieces.

Stay on her radar. Remember that querying isn’t the only way to keep your name to get work from an editor—or to keep your name in front of her. If you see a news release or article she’d be interested, send it along. If you’ve written for her frequently, ask about becoming a regular contributor, or “contributing editor.” Editors tend to assign to their CEs before other freelancers, and being listed on the masthead can boost your visibility as a freelancer as well.

These six strategies will help you develop long-term relationships with your editors. Think like your editors, give them what they want, and keep you name in front of them and you can turn “one-shot” editors into regular clients.

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