Freelance Writing Blueprint-Finding Experts and Interviewing Techniques | Susan Palmquist | Skillshare

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Freelance Writing Blueprint-Finding Experts and Interviewing Techniques

teacher avatar Susan Palmquist, Author, Dream Inspirer and Writing Guru

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Lesson One-Assignments and Contracts

    • 3. Lesson Two-Getting Ready for Interviews

    • 4. Lesson Three-Interviewing Experts

    • 5. Lesson Four-Interviewing Skills

    • 6. Wrap Up

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About This Class

This is class six in my year long series, Freelance Writing Blueprint. Each class is a standalone one but you'll get maximum benefit if you follow along each month.

This one focuses on what to do once you have your assignment in hand. I'll tell you about ways to set up interviews with experts and where to find them so your article will shine and repeat business will become second nature.

Meet Your Teacher

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Susan Palmquist

Author, Dream Inspirer and Writing Guru



I’m Susan Palmquist and for the last 20 years I’ve been an author, freelance writer, editor, blogger, teacher and tutor, (and before that I was a publicist).

It feels like I’ve squeezed a lot into two decades and it’s my tips and experience that I’ve learned along the way that I’m now happy to share with you here at Skillshare.

I’d like to show you how you too can write for fun or even for a living whether it be fiction or non-fiction.

Getting published wasn’t easy for me but I’m now the author, (under my own name and pen name Vanessa Devereaux), of 100 plus books and counting. There’s nothing I love more than helping others do the same thing.

I have my own coaching and critiquing business... See full profile

Related Skills

Writing Creative

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1. Intro: Hello, my name? Susan Palmquist. And welcome to class six in my yearlong Siri's off. How to be a freelance writer, freelance writing blueprint that you don't have to take all of the classes to get. You know, some of the benefits off this year long Siri's, but I really do think it will help you if you follow along and, you know, take all 12. But as I said, if you do want to pick and choose certain classes, then you're more than welcome to do that. And this one's going to focus on researching your article. So far, we've looked at finding the perfect market for you putting together a pitch on research in the market and, ah, you know, research in your chosen topic. So now we're assuming that you have the ah, Simon, and this one is going to focus on how to find and prepared to interview your experts, and everyone needs experts for articles there, right? I mean, there might be the odd exception where you have in depth, knowledge and experience of, ah, subject yourself that you can write it, but I think most editors Air gun appreciate outside experts giving their, um opinion or advice and even real life people. So most of the time you are gonna I need to find expert and you're going to need to interview them. And this is what this class is going to cover. I'm going to give you some tips and things that I found really helpful along the way. So all I'll see you in Lesson Lung. 2. Lesson One-Assignments and Contracts: Hello. Welcome back. And thank you very much for joining me in this class on First of all, we're going to look at the assignment and contract. And first of all, if you have landed in assignment, congratulations. That's what we want every time we send out a pitch later. Now I want you to, Ah, two things to look over your pitcher later, the one that you sent to the editor and also the contract that you get for that. And most of the time, you will get a contract. Um, that goes over what they expect of you on DA. I'll be getting a little bit more into this in next month's class. But toe, I think 99% of the time when you write an article, you will get the contract Britain for somewhere with have kind of, you know, it's just been an email exchange or a telephone conversation. But it is in your best interest to get a contract. Aziz. Well, especially when it comes down to you know when and how you get paid. So first of all, look at the deadline that they've given you, and that's most important because especially if they've never worked with you before. You don't want to miss that deadline because you want to be a reliable writer, reliable source that you will get continual work for this market. So make a note of that deadline and stick with it. Beat if you can, you know, get ahead of it and I'll go more into that two next month. And next thing I want you to do is look over your pitch later and keep your promises. I do know, you know, kind of chatted with some editors and and then ever enough told me that there are some writers who say they're going to do one thing and then they go off on Ah, you know, another topic. Stay on topic. If you've promised to write on how to get a good night's sleep, don't give them an article on how to lose £10 by you know, the middle of summer. Consult your contract. If if you have been given one and that will tell you you know you right, or you'll get you're going to write on this topic, stay with that topic. And don't don't give them anything else that you know, besides what you promised. Also, look how maney words they want you to write. Sometimes you'll tell them all. I'm going to write 1000 word article on this this topic and they may come back. And so well, no, I don't want 1000 words 5 500 on the contractors say 500. So please don't give them 1000 words and don't give them 250 words. Once again, be a good writer. Stick with the contract, Do as you are told. I know a lot of people think, Oh, this is my business. You know, I'm a freelancer. It's my chance to be my own boss sick and do what I want Now there's no such thing is that you are basically you're not an employee of that magazine or publication or whatever, but you are still working for them. And to stay a freelance writer, you need continue work, so you need to to act like an employee and do as you are told, because you know the editor is is your boss basically, and you know, when do you need to submit the work? Sometimes they'll want a rough copy ahead of the deadline so make sure you, you know, you look at things like that, the the bigger the publication usually want to see a rough draft before you hand in your final drop just to make sure we thinks on track. And like I said, you're not going off on to another topic. And also in your interest, how much are you going to get pied and when? Sometimes you'll be paid as soon as you hand your article in and you know they're satisfied with it. Sometimes you don't get paid until it's actually published, and I'll be getting more into this in in the next class to Ah, so you know, I want kind of cover that topic too much now. Ah, and also, if they said kill fee and that doesn't sound a sinister as it sounds. Ah, but it's ah, you know, sometimes if it doesn't work out, they will give you, um, maybe 10% of what they were gonna pay had they published your article on once again, I'll get more into these terms and what it means for freelance writing in in the next class . Andi, make sure that you do look over everything in that contract because it is legally binding. And, you know, I'm not saying it will happen, but you could end up in a lawsuit. You could end up in a costly legal hassle. Um, you know, when you put your signature to a contract, it is legally binding. So if there's anything you're not happy about, you need to speak up before you sign it and submit it to your editor. If there's anything you don't understand, you know, speak to the editor or even if you, you know, you got a friend or an attorney. Um, they usually straightforward, but sometimes that especially when you're starting out, that can be things. Well, I don't understand that. So please, please make sure you understand everything you're sign in everything you're required to do because, like I said, it's legally binding. And it's, you know, you do hear of some writers landing in legal hassle on you don't need that on DSO. Um, make sure that you you've looked over a couple of times, so that's basically yet what you'll need to do. Once you've been handed the assignment and your contract, the next thing you need to do is start gathering your experts to interview for the article on. That's what I'm gonna tell you about in the next lesson. So I'll see you then. 3. Lesson Two-Getting Ready for Interviews: Hello. I'm welcome back. And now we've covered the topic of your assignment and contract Would get into, um, interviewing your experts. Now, in your picture later. Did you mention specific people that you were intending? Teoh interview? If you did, I would do my very best to sick with them. Because sometimes editors give you assignment based on people that you've offered to interview. You know, they know that they're experts in this field, and they're kind of excited that their names are going to be mentioned in the publication. So do your best to stick with the people that you've mentioned. It's you know, it's not fatal if they're not available. I've had some people that I mentioned them and said, You know, I'm going Teoh be interviewing so and so on. Their schedules haven't jelled with my deadline, and I've had to find other ones at the kind of last minute. So if you have to switch, my tip is just make sure there is a reliable, you know, if they're the top academic at, say, Harvard University, you don't want to just get an expert. Well, not even expert. Just pull someone off the street toe discuss the topic, that that wouldn't be a good thing. You know, if you you've said I'm going to interview experts in this topic top people in their field, then that's what you need to do. And, uh, when you're setting up beginning to interview, your experts always ask what's a good time to interview them? Some people are more flexible, depending on their schedule on Do you know they're vory willing to, even if you you have to call them at night that they're okay with others like Teoh kind of keep it to business hours. So always ask what's a good time? Teoh Interview the person and make it easy for them because you never know when you're going to need them as an expert again. So you don't wanna You don't want to make any enemies. As I said, uh, the easier you make it for everyone, the easier it is for you and especially as you continue with your freelance writing career , Um, my golden rule is make everyone's job easy, and then it you know, you you become a reliable person, a great person to work for, and it just gets easier for you now some people I like to be interviewed over the phone. Um, some people like to be interviewed. Bar email. When I first started out, it was all phone work because, you know, the Internet. I hate to say this was in its infancy. It makes me look like an old dinosaur. But most of my interviews were done via phone. And then as the years progressed, we got more into email, and email is great because, you know, they can respond any time. You don't have to set a time and a daddy, they can do it. Maybe when they get in from work. Um, and everything is kind of written down for you. And, ah, you know, you don't have to look a kind of notes that you may have scribbled quick quickly and everything so for you, So, um, I really prefer the email way of interviewing people on. Also, if their local if there local experts, some people like Teoh, you know, chat with you face to face. I've met lots of people in coffee shops, especially when I work for local newspapers and magazines. I used to meet lots of my interviewees and experts in coffee shops, So I used to go to their place of business on Do you know, you obviously can only do that locally, but some people like that. And also there's the possibility off Skype now Facebook based time. Lots of options now. So always, always go on their schedule and what they're comfortable with Not so much you because they said these are people that you might possibly want to use again. When you, uh, write another article and ah, also, I mean, you're over to going to take notes, especially if it's by phone or in person, and, um, we'll get more into that in the next lesson. But, um, some people do, recalled interviewed, I've never done that on. I think legally you have to ask them, but I think it depends on what state you're in. But, um, I think you should always ask them how I'm going to recall this interview. Is that okay with you on day? You know, if it's not, don't do it. Just go purely on your own. No taking. If they've got no problem with it, then go ahead and you know it's another record off the interview on what they said. And you can use that for your article. So basically, that's covering. You know how you set up your appointment with your expert, and now we're going to get into more of the kind of nitty gritty and interviewing them and how we put everything together with the interview notes, so I'll see you in the next lesson. 4. Lesson Three-Interviewing Experts: Hello. I'm welcome back. And I thought Before we get into Hell t interview your expert, I tell you some of the places that might help you find some great experts and know that was one of my big concerns when I started writing is where I was going to find people to interview. So I thought I Jess, um resource is with you. And if you look in the class project section off this class, I've also got download for you with all the actual links that you can use If you want to check any of them out. The first thing I'd like to mention PR companies. They are absolutely great. Resource is for finding experts, and probably easier now to get hold of for PR people than ever. Waas just Google appeal companies and you you'll have a whole bunch come up. There's a huge load of companies and they're also sometimes that so set with advertising agencies to So you could even google that. But, you know, you do them the biggest favor. Really? Because instead of them having to try and find her a journalist or a writer to promote their client, you're approaching them and doing some of the legwork for them. And they're they're very accommodating on their experts on finding the right person for your topic. I've found some absolutely fantastic people to interview, and it's all because I connected with a PR company, you know, an executive appeal company. And, uh, they really know their clients. Well, they know what their their specialties are and who's a good match for your article? Absolutely fantastic. So they do a lot of the leg work for you to and recommend, you know, keeping them on fall because I've used them over and over again and sometimes the same PR company. And, uh, you know, other times I've got article ideas through PR companies, they've kind of pitched ideas to me. Or, like, I've taken on this new client there for, you know, the They're like a heart surgeon at this big hospital. Are you gonna be doing an article about, you know, cutting your risk of heart disease? If so, my client would love to be an expert, and it's giving me ideas. Teoh pitch, um you know, articles to editors that I wouldn't have dreamed off so great resource. So I highly recommend checking out PR companies the next one and I've used this one a lot. It's profit and their P part of the PR newswire network. You have to register. But once you're registered, each time you want an expert, you just, you know, check in and and mark off everything you want. Like if you want an expert in North America, Europe, all of the world, um, you know how so Or maybe gardening? I can really get specific. And I found once again some great experts through profit net the next one, and I haven't used them. But it's pitch right, And there are, I think they're part of a PR company, and once again, you can tell them exactly what you're looking for, who you're looking for, and they match you up with the ideal candidate, the next one. And this is for people. If you're writing in the UK or your writing for a UK based publication which I've done a lot off on, that's journalist directory, Great resource have even found real life people that I need for what they call like a study , someone that's maybe experience the disease. And that's what you're writing on and, you know, from a real life perspective, So once again, highly recommend them. If you're working for a U. K um, Publication. Oh, are you know, you want to pitch a UK publication? I'll find you experts. They're a great match. The final one is help out a reporter Haro. Now, this This society came into being when I was kind of in the tal end of my freelance writing career on, they were a great resource. You could, you know, send them. I think they send out, Ah, an email to their subscribers three times a day and it gives a list off journalists and what they're looking for. And, you know, if you're an expert, you reply. And so we are, You know, I've got a good match with this, and I found some great great resource is. But I think since then, on what I've heard, it's a little bit harder if you're not writing for a huge publication, they like their experts to be kind of used for publications that have ah, you know, a lot of views or good circulation. So I think if you were writing maybe for a local newspaper or magazine. They may not put your pitch out to their expert. I don't know whether that still party, but that's what I've heard. And that's what you know. I think I was finding on the talent of my career that it wasn't such a good resource for me as it was when I first used it, but definitely the the others. You know, if you can't find an expert one, go to the next one, and, um, another thing, too, is Please email me. I'll help you find an expert somewhere. I not still know a lot of people from PR companies. And, um, so reach out and, uh, tell me what you're looking for, and I'll hopefully can match you up with the right person. So that's it. Where to find the great experts. So in the next lesson, I'm gonna tell you how to conduct your interview. So I'll see you then. 5. Lesson Four-Interviewing Skills: Hello and welcome back. And now it's time to interview your expert Andi. Like I mentioned in the previous lesson, make sure it's convenient for them. You don't want to, ah, be kind of, Ah, pain in the butt because you may need them again. And, you know, it's just common courtesy that they're doing. Although it's promotion for them, you know they are doing your favor, too, so make sure it's convenient for them good day and time. And, uh, you know, have everything ready. I used to take notes. I'm a fast writer, So I you know, I was able to take notes. But like I said, if you need to recall, just ask them if that's okay and tell them you know, we're gonna be recording May on. If they're not comfortable with it, then you know. Please don't do that. And I just said, I think in some places you can't do that without the person's permission anyway, so you you have to let them know you're recording the interview. Now, if someone is not a good match, sometimes I've kind of gone into something. Think all this person is going to be the right expert and I've been chatting with them. I've interviewed them and you know, it's something spinoff. It's not been a good, such a good matches. I assumed it would bay. And you have to be honest and tell them, you know, this isn't working. I don't think I can use you as an expert. And you know, people are okay with that. Sometimes we do make mistakes and it's not a good match. And, uh, you know, don't waste their time. Don't waste your so find someone else and move on now. One thing that I have found on I did this early on and it's a rookie. Mistake is don't set up questions where people can just say yes or no. I had a lot of people do that, and I'm thinking, I looked at my note that I'm like, Wow, I have nothing to write because it's just yes, and now on that gets me into the topic off preparing your questions way beforehand. I used to do this may be a day before I was set to interview them, go through that the information that may be a PR company sent you about them. If they've got website any information that you can find online and by sure questions on that, Or you know what? What, you know, their their expertise is and get it all sorted out. So you don't have to think off the top of your head and panic. And maybe the interview doesn't go as well as you. You know, I thought it would be another thing to do. And yes, I've made this mistake. I hope other people of my dismiss take to, you know, there are a lot of names that, um, sound like maybe so. For example, the name Smith you can have S m i t h or S m y T h. Don't always assume that it's the common way of spelling a name. And I I did this a couple of times. I got people's names wrong, and they should have been angry. They were angry. They contacted the editor and, like, Oh, yeah, you know, your writer got my name wrong on, then, you know, in the next month, they've got to put a correction in the you know, the person's name was not on it kind of take your credibility. A Why, especially with unaided. Terrific donated to you haven't worked with before. You're trying to impress them. And they think, Well, this right, it can't even get the person's name. Right? Bad start. So always make sure that you get there. Nine. Right? And some people, you know, they have a professional name and say, like Robert and I'd like to be 90 bulb. Ask them, You know, how do you want to be quoted? And you know your name in this This article and people are quite, you know, honored that you're even bothering Teoh to get into that. So make sure you get the name right. Spell it right even, you know, spell it back to them. Sometimes. When you're on the phone, you know, you don't hear properly, so make sure you you get it brought. Next thing is, sometimes you're out of your depth. This technical stuff you're writing in an article some experts get into Teoh some real like scratching your head thing, you know? Awesome. Make sure you ost, um, and when you write it, I've I've been in such a all This doesn't seem right. Have I taken the right notes? I've sent them an email and said This is what I'm gonna put. My political is correct. You don't want to send them the complete article, and I'll be getting into a little bit of that in next month's class. But some anything that you're not sure about technical, maybe it's medical or whatever. It's better to ask than to have the article printed, and then the experts I know that's wrong or no, I didn't say that. Uh, that's not what I meant. So if there's anything you're not sure about, always go back to that. You expert all the PR person who's representing them and say I'm not sure about this could so and so look the sober for me, See if it's okay and, you know, before I go ahead, they appreciate that, too. They don't want to be quoted, you know, something that's completely wrong. And there again, kind of amateur mistake of your first time with a publication and ed that you don't want that to happen. Another thing, too, is to always ask them if they got a real life. I've interviewed quite a few doctors, and I've asked him, Do you have a patient that maybe would be willing to offer some insight on what it's like to have this disease, or you know what their experience was with its treatment or medication on if they've handed me gems of people who have really added another layer to my article. So if you are looking for real like people always ask the expert the source because sometimes they have the perfect person for yourself. Dumpy. Don't be frightened to Austin for for somehow and finally always thank room. You know, I what I've done is not only thank them over the phone, but I thank them with an email. Sometimes people that experts have been so helpful and give me they've gone above and beyond what they could. I've even sent them. Thank you. Notes. I've sent PR people. Thank you. Know So you know, if you're gonna make this a long term thing, you don't want to make enemies. You want my friends and goes along. Why especially today To thank people you know, sometimes we take for granted that way. We think that's what someone should be doing. Know that You know, they probably are taking time out of a busy schedule to help you out. Eso always thank them And, you know, because yes, and it really does go a long way and they remember you and they're willing to help you out again. So those are my tips for finding experts and interviewing them on, um, in the next lesson, I'll do a wrap up on let you know what what I'll be focusing on in next month's class, so I'll see you then. 6. Wrap Up: hello and welcome to the wrap up section off this month's class. First of all, I'll talk about the class project, which is to check out the experts that you'll need for your article and also try and check out some PR companies and maybe get on their mailing list if they haven't used little. My contact with a few off the staff members on did introduce yourself and, you know, tell them that you're a new freelance writer. Ah, great way to kind of get a foot in the door with a PR company. And even if you haven't landed on assignment yet, make one up. Pretend you've landed in a Simon and think about what experts that you would use on when you would find them on and use the resource is that I've given you in the class to locate some people. You don't have to actually contact them, but imagine that you would be contacting them. You can even practice some of your interviewing skills, maybe make up a set of interviews that you would ask them Next thing. Make sure you hit the follow button so you can be alerted when I upload more classes in this Siri's. And also I'll be offering more writing classes in the coming months on. So what's coming next? We're halfway through the year, Andi. We've done a lot of groundwork, and you may have already landed your first assignment. So I thought we'd spend some time in the next lesson putting together your article. I'm going to give you hit hints and tips on how to do that and kind of lessons. I've learned mistakes are might so we can cut down on your learning curve and you can hit the ground running. So that's about it for this month. If you have any questions, not only about experts and interview in any aspect of writing, I'm always here willing to help. So just leave a message and I'll get back to you. Um, as soon as I can on day. Thank you very much for taking this class of other classes here at scale share. Appreciate every one of you on da Thanks for sticking with me. Until then, please take care on happy writing.