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Old 02-09-2013, 12:18 AM   #1
Rennet
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Metrics

As I ramp up on identifying markets and sending queries, I thought maybe it'd be helpful (it would be for me at least) to talk about what types of metrics you aim for, and the results? Or if you take a metrics-driven approach at all?

New to trying to do this for a living, I am aiming for 5 solid ideas per week. By that I mean ideas that are not only good but have multiple markets I can pitch to. Each one of my queries, with some adjustment, can go to 2-3 different editors. That means 10-15 solid queries per week.

I would hope, then, to see 1 out of every 20-30 queries become a commission. That is 2 per month to start. As I develop relationships with editors, and have more market knowledge, my number of commissions will increase along with all my metrics (for example better market knowledge means I'll know of more places to pitch a specific idea).

As someone new I had to make these numbers up completely off the top of my head, so I was curious was full-time freelancers see in the real world.
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:21 AM   #2
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Ok disclaimer, I am a professional teacher, not a freelancer, that being said, START SLOW! There is nothing worse than someone starting out all hardcore and then burning out. I believe in making one general query letter and submitting it to as many markets as possible. A properly written query will only need slight adjustments to fit a given publication. That being said, start with one query letter circulated to as many markets as possible, per week.

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Old 02-09-2013, 07:29 AM   #3
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As I ramp up on identifying markets and sending queries, I thought maybe it'd be helpful (it would be for me at least) to talk about what types of metrics you aim for, and the results? Or if you take a metrics-driven approach at all?

New to trying to do this for a living, I am aiming for 5 solid ideas per week. By that I mean ideas that are not only good but have multiple markets I can pitch to. Each one of my queries, with some adjustment, can go to 2-3 different editors. That means 10-15 solid queries per week.

I would hope, then, to see 1 out of every 20-30 queries become a commission. That is 2 per month to start. As I develop relationships with editors, and have more market knowledge, my number of commissions will increase along with all my metrics (for example better market knowledge means I'll know of more places to pitch a specific idea).

As someone new I had to make these numbers up completely off the top of my head, so I was curious was full-time freelancers see in the real world.
I've never really heard of/known anyone doing numbers like that, to my knowledge, but what the heck.

I have a q. though - you're talking about pitching the same thing to 3 people at the same time. I'm not quite sure how that'd work, as the same thing wouldn't really seem appropriate for three different pubs that take stuff, but regardless, what happens if two or three want it?
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:46 AM   #4
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I've never really heard of/known anyone doing numbers like that, to my knowledge, but what the heck.

I have a q. though - you're talking about pitching the same thing to 3 people at the same time. I'm not quite sure how that'd work, as the same thing wouldn't really seem appropriate for three different pubs that take stuff, but regardless, what happens if two or three want it?
You find a different slant for each piece so as to create three unique pieces even though at the core they cover the same material.
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:54 AM   #5
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You find a different slant for each piece so as to create three unique pieces even though at the core they cover the same material.
As far as I know, the OP is looking into specialized sports freelancing. If it were general, there's more ability to tweak but the production plan given sports is tougher, imo. Hence the q.

If you're trying to sell 'what type of person goes to a yacht race' to three different pubs, and they all bite, can't really give it to all three, even if one focuses more on the playboy aspect and one on the money aspect or none of them will ever speak to you again and they may come after you with sticks.
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:59 AM   #6
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As far as I know, the OP is looking into specialized sports freelancing. If it were general, there's more ability to tweak but the production plan given sports is tougher, imo. Hence the q.

If you're trying to sell 'what type of person goes to a yacht race' to three different pubs, and they all bite, can't really give it to all three, even if one focuses more on the playboy aspect and one on the money aspect or none of them will ever speak to you again and they may come after you with sticks.
I have sold five, distinct, unique articles on iron palm training to different martial arts magazines. I fail to see the difference.
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:05 AM   #7
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I have sold five, distinct, unique articles on iron palm training to different martial arts magazines. I fail to see the difference.
Those, I'm guessing, are evergreen, not event-based.
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:11 AM   #8
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Those, I'm guessing, are evergreen, not event-based.
I concede the point.
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:27 PM   #9
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Those, I'm guessing, are evergreen, not event-based.
You can take an infinite number of angles on an event and the sport, so just like any other topic an event can be repitched to many different outlets depending on which angle is best for each.

Also, it's true in another thread I'm brainstorming possible areas to specialize, with the goal being turning my desire to travel into an advantage over other writers. That's not to say currently I am only pitching to sports magazines. I didn't mean in that thread to label myself 'guy who covers international sporting events,' because that isn't me.

Interesting to hear some of the responses here. If you do talk about metrics, please also mention if you freelance full-time to support yourself or if this is a secondary income. I have a hard time believing I could support myself to start by pitching one article per week.

edit: I guess your point, Neporsche, is to have one good query and get it to more than the 2-3 markets I mentioned. That makes sense, the hardest part seems to be coming up with solid ideas and markets that would want them.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:53 PM   #10
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The way I pitch to multiple markets is this: I start with my A-list (usually national glossies). I'll pitch one, wait a couple of weeks and pitch another with the same (or slightly adjusted) query, until I exhaust my A-list. If there have been no acceptances, I'll move on to my B-list.

If I receive an acceptance, I'll write to whichever other pubs I've pitched and let them know that I've sold the article to such-and-such magazine, thank them for their time, and pitch them another idea in the same letter.

Another item to consider is this: when you being receiving acceptances, you may end up with several articles due at the same time for different publications. You have to really be careful not to get so overwhelmed with work that you miss your deadlines. That's a sure way to wreck your credibility.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:15 PM   #11
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Good tip on pitching a new idea in the follow-up, gives them a sense of urgency the next time around
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:47 PM   #12
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You have to really be careful not to get so overwhelmed with work that you miss your deadlines. That's a sure way to wreck your credibility.
or that your rush to meet those deadlines causes your quality to falter.
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:52 PM   #13
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Both Melinda and Debbie hit on the retest problems with spinning an article to meet multiple markets. While I maintain that, properly approached, it is possible, you must make sure each one is cared for as a unique piece ... and handled in a professional manner.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:53 AM   #14
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Well I'm 2-for-8 so far, feel pretty good about that and now will have some recent clips. I'm not really happy with the number of queries I'm getting out the door but the acceptance rate is higher than I expected so I guess it evens out.

Neither pay too well, I guess the goal is to get a higher rate once I get some clips and then it'll turn into a living. How tough is a buck a word to find for an established writer? Right now I'm looking at about 13 cents for a publication with 85,000 monthly circulation

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Old 02-20-2013, 03:55 AM   #15
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It's not that hard to find, it's just that the competition is stiff for the better-paying publications. Slow responses to queries, tougher editorial standards, and more intensive research on articles help weed out the less experienced writers.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:51 PM   #16
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I've been a full-time freelance journalist for over ten years and a total nerdy numbers gal.

When work gets slow, I send out 5 query letters a day, every day, until the assignments start flowing again.

Recently, I posted good hard numbers on my blog and readers found that useful. It's not a method for everyone, but I certainly believe that writers, especially if they're new, need to send out as many targeted query letters as possible if they actually want to get enough assignments to earn a living. I know not everyone agrees, but it's a numbers game. The more you put out there, the more will come back.

Here's that blog post: http://www.mridukhullar.com/journal/...ek-in-queries/

Good luck!
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:19 AM   #17
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I've been a full-time freelance journalist for over ten years and a total nerdy numbers gal.

When work gets slow, I send out 5 query letters a day, every day, until the assignments start flowing again.

Recently, I posted good hard numbers on my blog and readers found that useful. It's not a method for everyone, but I certainly believe that writers, especially if they're new, need to send out as many targeted query letters as possible if they actually want to get enough assignments to earn a living. I know not everyone agrees, but it's a numbers game. The more you put out there, the more will come back.

Here's that blog post: http://www.mridukhullar.com/journal/...ek-in-queries/

Good luck!
Thanks this is exactly what I was looking for. I'm now very intimidated though, the hardest part for me so far is coming up with ideas. More recently I had the thought that good queries > a lot of queries, so I had a goal of 5 solid queries per week. I am attempting to do this for a living (but I'm traveling so my living costs are substantially cheaper, my initial goal is to make $1500 per month).

I do see how ideas become easier over time, I've created a matrix so as that builds up I will have that to draw on for queries. And sometimes my ideas come in the form of categories, of which many queries can come, so I suppose that takes time as well.

I just finished my first glossy mag piece and have nothing on the table but maybe about 10 queries out, most of them pretty solid pitches
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Old 03-11-2013, 04:03 PM   #18
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Don't be intimidated! Seriously, it's not so difficult once you get into the routine of it. I do my work in batches-- come up with ideas, find markets, find names of editors, etc.

Here's another post on how to write and send 25 query letters in a week. (I'd post it here, but it's really long.) Hope it helps and feel free to post any questions here or on my blog. http://www.mridukhullar.com/journal/...ueries-a-week/
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Old 03-11-2013, 04:19 PM   #19
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I shouldn't say intimidated but more reminded of the hill I have to climb I see the path towards getting there, especially as more of these broader categories of ideas are developed, from which I can draw many other ideas.

I shared this in the comments on your blog but thought others here might like it as well. About where ideas come from: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/06/154448...deas-come-from
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