It might take some time, but eventually you will sell an article pitch to an editor, or a prospective client will sign you to a content writing contract. Next, you’ll get your first PAID publication – and what a sweet, sweet feeling that will be!
By all means, celebrate this accomplishment lavishly. You’ll want to share the article or content piece with every person you know, and well you should. Not everyone can claim to be a “professional writer,” but you are. You’ve just been paid for your writing skills. Take pride in that!
Once the euphoria dissipates, though, you’ll need to put your CEO hat back on and realize there are business tasks associated with the aftermath of getting published. Here are three things to do as soon as possible after your article or content asset goes live.
1. Update your pitch tracking spreadsheet with the live article’s URL
You ARE tracking all your pitches, right? Right??
If you’re not, you should be. Track every article pitch and LOI you send. Use a spreadsheet, database, or app to track the entire lifecycle of every pitch, including these datapoints:
- Date pitched
- Type of pitch (article or LOI)
- If article, working title
- Outlet (publication or prospective client name)
- Person’s name (specific editor or client you sent the pitch to)
- Their email address
- Date response received
- Type of response (Yes, No, “We’ll keep your info on file,” etc.)
- Date assignment/contract received
- Date turned in
- Date accepted by editor/client
- Date invoiced (or just something to denote that you did, in fact, invoice them)
- Article URL or link to content asset
Of all of these items, that last one is very important and is the one that’s relevant to this blog post. You want to keep track of all your published work so that you can provide new prospects with appropriate work samples as needed.
Believe me, as you start getting published, it’s very easy to lose track of exactly what you’ve written…and where it was published…and when. I, myself, lost one of the most important clips of my career, and I can never get it back because the magazine has long since gone out of business, and the clip predates the web (so the Wayback Machine is of no help). Don’t make that same mistake.
Keep your clips organized. A spreadsheet is a fine way to do this. But don’t stop with simply listing a link to your published article or content asset. URLs change all the time, as client websites get reorganized. Or, a client may go out of business and ~poof!~ their website suddenly disappears.
You should track your clips in at least two ways. Recording the URL is the first. Here’s the second.
2. Create a PDF of web pages containing your work
Did you know that Adobe automatically installs a PDF toolbar on the most common browsers, including Chrome and Firefox? Well, it does. And you can quickly and easily convert any web page to a PDF using this tool.
On the plus side, capturing your web-published work as a PDF allows you to keep a “hard copy” of the piece even if the client’s website disappears or the URL changes.
On the minus side, PDF captures of web pages don’t look as pretty as the originally published version, as you can see from this PDF version of an article I wrote for Healthgrades (published here, for comparison):
But beauty is not our intent here. Our main goal is to make sure you never lose a clip. And for that purpose, the PDF toolbar does a bang-up job.
Saving your clips and keeping them organized represent two of the business tasks that should occur immediately after publication. Here’s a third.
3. Seize the opportunity to pitch your editor again
A final business-related task you should complete as soon as any of your work gets published is to pitch the same editor or client (if applicable) again.
If your editor was happy with the article you wrote, then there’s no better time to pitch them another article than in the rosy afterglow of a collaborative job well done. Get in the habit of always having another pitch ready to go as soon as your current assignment has been put to bed.
On the content side, if you didn’t receive a contract for ongoing work, then this is the perfect time to broach the subject. If the client had you write one blog post, then pitch them on a contract to write three per month (or whatever). As you’re working with a content client, try to take notice of all the other ways you can help them with your writing. Do they also need web pages? Additional content assets? Pitch them these ideas as soon as you’re all congratulating each other over a job well done on the current project.
I’ve found many novice writers wait for the editor or client to “invite” them to pitch again – and sometimes that will happen. But, other times an editor or client might assume you don’t have available bandwidth to take on a new project – or whatever. Don’t expect clients to read your mind. Tell them directly that you’ve enjoyed working with them and would love to get started right away on another project.
How do you track your pitches and organize your clips? Tell us about them in the comments!