05/07/2013
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How to sell freelance articles - persuasive tactics

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Selling freelance articles is a more complex process than it might sometimes appear, and it can help to be persuasive in your pitch.

It certainly demands a well-considered approach that goes far beyond just saying: I think this is a great idea, publish it. The process must be regarded in the following way:

• Remember that just saying how wonderful your work is, will be unlikely to be enough

• Selling is a complex type of communication and needs care and consideration to make it work

• A variety of techniques are well proven in other fields and can be tailored to suit the way writers work too. Remember these key points:
  1. People are more inclined to buy from people they like. This applies just as much to editors as it does car salesmen. Editors need to believe they can trust you to get the job done, and that they will enjoy working with you.
  2. People need proof to offset uncertainty. Demonstrate your skill and give clippings or links to back up your claims.
  3. People tend to honour commitment, however slight. A 'maybe' gives you more to work with than a 'no'! Try a repeat pitch with "This idea seemed to appeal when I last mentioned it".
  4. People value scarcity. Be busy. Saying, "I'm on a project now but can come to yours later in the week," gives a reassuring impression, boosts your reputation and reinforces your professionalism and commitment to a deadline.
  5. People act from indebtedness. Be professional and efficient on one tight deadline, and you will likely be remembered in future. A free sample might even lead to a regular commission.
  6. People value expertise. What can you offer than no other writer can? Information? Specific skills? Use them.

• Everything you do requires empathy. If you put yourself in the shoes of the other party and see things from their point of view, it can guide you to a more persuasive approach

• This is a competitive process. Get your persuasion right and you will achieve a better strike rate and see your name in print much more often.


To read the full article on using persuasive approaches to convince editors to buy your articles, see the July issue of Writing Magazine, in print or digital.

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