Three takeaways from SPJ Freelance Community chat

Guest blogger: Jennifer Karchmer

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This morning I participated in an online chat with the SPJ Freelance Community. Topics are generated by members who log on. It’s an informal way to talk about the freelance industry, get tips and bounce ideas off fellow writers.

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, I sat at a cafe enjoying an espresso macchiato while logged on via my iPhone. I joined a few minutes late however the casual format allows members to come and go, observe, participate and ask questions. It also allows you to multitask so you can read emails, surf the internet (and have a coffee and bagel).

I chimed in with the topic of writing effective pitches. Several people offered good advice and we commiserated on some of the challenges of freelancing (low or no pay, non-responsive editors for example).

Based on our hourlong chat, I gained some tips from the discussion. Thank you to SPJ Freelance Community chair Anna Pratt for organizing and fellow SPJ members for sharing information.

1) Employ the “3xs and you’re out” guideline. After the third try, say something like, “if I don’t hear back with a response either way by (deadline), I will assume it’s ok to pitch to another publication. Thank you for your time.” You don’t have to be rude, but we work on deadline in our industry so it’s important to give sufficient time then move on.

2) Give a little extra leeway in summer. Perhaps people are on extended vacation so they will get back in another week. (Good reason to be diligent activating Out of Office responder).

3) Stick to email; avoid phone calls. Realize some pubs even prefer snail mail pitches. Ask fellow writers and research the heck out of the pub to find out how they prefer to receive pitches.

Based in Bellingham, Wash., Jennifer Karchmer is a member of the SPJ Western Washington Pro chapter and volunteers with the SPJ International Community. In June, she attended an SPJ Ted Scripps Leadership Institute and in September will attend #EIJ15 as a Terry Harper Memorial Scholarship recipient. Find her online at www.jenniferkarchmer.com.

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