Sunday, November 21, 2010

Insights Into The World Of Article Writing: An Interview With Expat Writing Coach Jo Parfitt

Hi Everyone, If you are interested in writing articles (for profit, as a hobby, or to promote yourself/business), please read on to see what we learned from expat writing coach Jo Parfitt, author of A Career In Your Suitcase (now in its third edition), who has just launched her article writing program online...

Expat Women: Jo, last time we talked, you had just launched your Write Your Life Stories online program. How did your new online program, Definite Articles, come about?

Jo: Actually, I created this program first (in 2002) and ran it as a live one day workshop for many years.  In about 2005, I turned the notes from the live workshop into an ebook and that became part of an eight lesson correspondence course.  I have been running it ever since in that way.  However, since 2005, I have adjusted, amended and honed the course, adding new stuff to such an extent that it became about twice as long as before.  I added material about blogging, marketing yourself online, pitching and writing a book review too.

Expat Women: You say that your program is for people living abroad.  Is the content only suitable for expats?

Jo: Definite Articles will work for anybody, sure.  But my writing experience is mainly for the expat market, so this is the area I know best. The examples and markets mentioned target this niche too, so I believe the program is of particular interest to people living abroad.

Expat Women: Why do you think expatriates want or even need to learn to write articles, Jo?

Jo: Writing is a great portable career.  I can say that because it has been my own career for over 20 years and five international moves.  I have written books, articles, columns, copy and all kinds of things, but hour for hour, word for word, there is no doubt in my mind that articles are the most lucrative.  Even better, articles are short, so you have an idea, pitch it, get commissioned, write it and then get paid.  They are quick to pitch and quick to write.  And, with many publications paying €150 - €300 per 1,000 words that represents pretty good return on investment. When you consider that books are typically more than 35,000 words, it is hard to get an advance from the smaller presses, and royalties might amount to only about 50 cents per book, the maths is clear: articles are more lucrative.

But writing articles is something that any entrepreneur should master.  With the price of advertising being relatively high, having your name in print, crediting you as the author of an article on your specialist topic can do wonders for your reputation and that, in turn can make you money.  So I believe that expats and entrepreneur expats both need to learn how to do this.

Expat Women: Jo, you said ‘have an idea, pitch it, get commissioned, write it’.  What about writing an article first, then trying to sell it?

Jo: That is a common mistake. Sure, some publications, particularly those online would take prewritten articles, but the kind of publications that pay will always want to see a pitch first, and then commission a piece that is just right for them – with the right content, tone, case studies, length and so on.  Actually, I believe that good freelance writers are successful because they have lots of ideas, manage to hone them to the right market and then write a good pitch letter.

Expat Women: What do you think would make an editor agree to publishing the work of a new writer.  Is it just down to the pitch letter?

Jo: The pitch letter is the first communication a writer has with an editor. It is vital that it is spot on.  In the letter you need to prove why your idea is perfect for the publication and why the writer is the perfect person to write it.  This is what I call the ‘authority’ of the writer.  Having first hand experience of the topic you plan to cover gives you that authority.  A pitch letter is paramount, but your idea and its suitability for that publication are what will help most of all.

Expat Women: How can people find out more about your program, Jo?

Jo: For more information about my article-writing course, or my write your life story course, please visit my website.  Thanks Everyone!

Editor's note: Expat Women welcomes voluntary article contributions.  Please click here for details. Thanks.

1 comment:

TaxTeddy said...

An excellent article, with good advice.

Come on all you expats - get blogging.

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