They know the brand, they know the readers, and they understand the writing process. Editors are in a perfect place to help you grow your assignment pool—that is, if you’re the right fit for each other. Here are five things editors look for in a top-notch brand journalist:
This seems rather obvious—if you’re an established journalist, you’re an excellent writer, right? Probably, but you have to prove it first. Before you search for new writing jobs, make sure you have writing clips to show potential clients. These samples could be PDFs, links to articles on a personal website or online portfolio or samples from your own blog.
Personal blogs are especially helpful if you’re new to brand journalism. Blogging about a passion and/or area of expertise shows that you are actively practicing your writing, post consistently and therefore can work within deadlines.
Samples show off your writing skills and show what topics you’d be the best fit for. For example, would you feel comfortable writing about training cats when you’ve only ever had dogs?
Whether you’re already an expert in your field or are in the process of becoming one, make sure you use reputable sources when doing research for an article. Link to online journals or conduct interviews with subject-matter experts. Be sure to fact-check your statistics or other information against your source material to avoid errors or discrepancies. Backing yourself up shows that you are knowledgeable about your topic and earns the trust of both readers and editors.
Only agree to take on assignments that are a good fit for you. Before you say “yes,” make sure you have the time to do research, write the piece, proofread it, and send it in by the deadline—and make sure you actually want to write it.
If you’re unsure about any of these up front, don’t write the article. It’s OK to decline an offer. In fact, politely turning down a proposal shows that you care about the quality of both the content and the subject matter and recognize when you might not be able to do the article justice.
Editors also look for reliability. If you often miss deadlines, or you write so quickly that you produce poor-quality content, you aren’t reliable. Knowing your strengths will help editors know what they can offer you and in what time frame. If you are able to write well under strict deadlines, editors will ask for you again in the future.
Verify your facts, get rid of typos, and clean up your writing. Make sure the tone fits the brand you’re writing for. One great way to get a sense of your article’s flow is to read your work aloud. Sounding out sentences can help you see where certain phrases don’t work.
Proving that you can produce clear, concise, and brand-aligned content will land you more writing jobs. Every writer makes the occasional mistake, but if your editor consistently receives sloppy writing, he or she won’t recommend you for more work.
Brand journalism is a collaborative process, and revisions will likely be necessary to make sure your piece reads the way it should. Your editor may ask you to tweak the content to make it more brand-aligned, and that’s fine. Editors don’t expect perfection right out of the gate. Showing a willingness to improve is a green light for editors to invite you back again and again.
Lastly, if you can, remember to share your published work with your social network. Editors love to see you take pride in your work, and you’ll be helping your clients, too. You’ll also be showing off your expertise, which will help you receive more writing jobs in the future.
If you want to enhance your career as a brand journalist, click here to create your Skyword writer portfolio.