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January - a slow start to 2018

January - a slow start to 2018

After a hectic November and fairly busy December, January was really quiet for me. I didn’t feel much like pitching, instead I wanted to hang out with my family and have some down time. Towards the end of the month I started pitching, because I realised that even though I had invoiced for a good amount of money, not having lots of commissions means that a few months down the track, my bank account will take a big hit.

January - a slow start to 2018

january 2018 slow start

In terms of feature articles for magazines and newspapers, this month I:

Pitched: 10 (this includes re-pitching ideas that have been rejected)

Commissions from pitches or query letters: a big fat ZERO

Rejections: 2

Offers: 5 (where the editor approached me with a commission)

In terms of feature articles for corporate and B2B clients: (I don’t pitch these)

Offers: 7

Total articles filed: 15

I thought it might be useful for you to see the split between the number of articles I pitch/write for newsstand magazines and newspapers, compared to corporate and B2B (Business to Business) content.

Only two of the articles I pitched were to publications that I have written for before, and the other eight were new to me. I feel well and truly back in pitch, pitch, pitch mode and getting silence in return.

It’s a good (if slightly bruising) reminder for me that it can be really hard to break into new publications. But I do believe that following up is key, as is consistently pitching. While I had content marketing writing work, my aim going into February is to pitch an article a day until my feature writing work picks up again.

That said, I do find content writing for businesses so much easier than features for magazines. I don't have to be as creative or lyrical (or at all) and so while I've felt that I should have more feature writing work, I've actually enjoyed not having quite so much pressure. 

I had some disappointments this month:

·      A famil or press trip I had been invited on was cancelled due to lack of media uptake. I didn’t have a firm commission so it made the cancellation less impactful, but I was looking forward to a few days away in a region of Australia that I haven't explored before.

·      A section of a magazine that I regularly contribute to is no longer. I emailed the editor a new pitch and she let me know that they are revamping the publication and are no longer going to be commissioning for this section. It was quite a blow as I’ve had three 1400 word pieces (with one to come) published in this monthly magazine since last year. But again, it’s a reminder that this landscape is forever changing and you need to make sure that your work is spread across different publications and clients.

·      I pitched to a couple of big name dream publications, but despite encouraging rejections, I didn’t get any commissions.

But, making up for the disappointments:

·      Melinda Hammond from Writer on the Road interviewed me for her podcast – Melinda has freelanced on and off over the years, so it was great to have an in-depth chat with her about being a freelance writer and breaking into food and travel writing. If you fancy a listen you can do so here.  

·      I applied for membership to the Australian Society of Travel Writers – it felt like a big deal. You have to publish at least 7,000 travel-related words in a year, which doesn’t sound like that much, but actually when you count up all your words, it really is! You also need to have two full members (they are travel writers who publish 20,000 + travel-related words in a year) sponsor you. My application has been provisionally accepted, so I’m hopeful that next month I’ll have good news

·      I’m also attending IMM for the first time. Billed as the "leading single-day event that unites journalists and the travel industry", IMM is a bit like speed dating for writers. This February over 145 different exhibitors (think places like Visit Britain, Destination Canada, Disneyland) will be attending. Travel writers request appointments with 22 different exhibitors and you have 15 minutes to have a chat about their destination or activity. One travel writer told me it’s where most of her famil/press trip offers for the year come from.

·      I was also asked by Rashida Tayabali to contribute to a blog post about what freelance writing is going to look like in 2018. I think this is such an great post and I loved reading what others think will happen this year. It’ll be interesting to see which predictions come true.

·      I interviewed a businesswoman for an article I was writing and after it was published she got in touch to ask if I ever created content for organisations and businesses. I’m now writing two articles a month for her blog. You just never know where your next client will come from. 

·      I’m starting to plan my presentation for the Launceston Freelancer Festival, where I'll be talking about what I learnt from my first full time year of freelance writing.

But what about the money?

In January I had $6K worth of work commissioned.

I invoiced for just over $10K.

$6K now feels pretty low for me given the year I had in 2017, but I really didn't start pitching until the last week of the month and I had such a lovely, relaxing January that I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Better get my skates on in February!

What were your highlights or lowlights for January? How is February looking for you?

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