As Good As Your Last Piece

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Consistency is King

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As a freelance writer, don’t confuse inconsistency with versatility. Some authors work hard to impress with their first article or two. Then submissions veer off course with lackluster content or numerous grammatical errors. A common expression in creative industries is that you are only as good as your last piece.

Some editors have a zero-tolerance rule. When I write for KevinMD, submis­sions are subject to rejection if there are any grammatical errors or if articles violate other guidelines. As an editor, I might be a little more lenient with writing for this website. Investing in outside writers as a future resource, I endeavor to show them how to make their work better. This blog is filled with tips to improve writing.

Like sour wine spewed by a king’s cupbearer, some writers reject constructive advice and repeat the same mistakes. When the editor’s time correcting mistakes exceeds that of the writer, someone else is crowned with the task.

Don’t Become a Jester

As a freelance writer, you have a choice. You can view each customer as a one-off. Or view them as clients with reoccurring opportunities. Each client has different writing requirements. Some prefer inline references; others want outside references listed at the end or not at all.

Online tabloids use very short paragraphs. A journal may require technical writing with just the facts. Blogs can be more casual. To become a serious contender, prepare a grid to keep track of writing guidelines for each client.

ClientStyleGenreAudi­enceRefer­ences
Acme BlogCasualWell­nessGeneral PublicNone
Beta BlogTech­nicalTech­nologyProgrammersInline
Healthy BlogSci­enceHealth­careDoctorsBottom
News JournalTrendsLawsPublicInternal links

Add columns as necessary to keep track of notes or links to resources that your clients provide to adapt to different guidelines.

After successful acceptance of one or two articles, clients will provide less detail. They may just ask for “the usual” or say “same as before.” If you have no idea what that means, you jeopardize future assignments by delivering work that is not as good as your last piece.

To support the writing of useful articles about writing, ClinicalPosters sells human anatomy posters, scientific posters and other products online. You may remit a small donation or leave an encourag­ing comment to keep the work going. Stay safe and A Bit More Healthy.

Main photo by Kindel Media from Pexels.

Kevin Williams is a health advocate, artist, pro­gram­mer, and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites. He has 17 years experi­ence as a Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs graphics con­sul­tant.

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