The Freelance Creative

5 Tips for Landing a Second Assignment

Getting your foot in the door is only the beginning. Landing the next assignment after you wrap up a first one is what can lead to a long-term working relationship, one in which the editor comes to you!

Here’s how to drum up repeat business…

Get it right the first time

“A surefire way to land a second assignment is how impressed I am with the first assignment,” says Julie Sherrier, managing editor of She still recalls the great first impression one of her now regular contributors made.

“After her cold pitch, I gave her a two-week turnaround to submit the story, along with a copy of our writer’s guidelines (which she actually read!),” she said. “I had the story submitted on the due date, it was written with a lively tone, was well-researched, contained current research and statistics, and was within the word count,” she says.

In short, the story made Sherrier’s job easier, as it required little editing. “I didn’t hesitate to assign her a second piece,” she says.

Don’t disappear after you submit the article

Michelle Seitzer, a freelance writer who specializes in eldercare content, says that after she sends an assignment, she always checks in with the editor to be sure he or she received it, to find out if there are any questions, comments, concerns or other feedback, and to offer any necessary revisions.

“This approach shows the client that you want your work to be the best it can possibly be, and that you are an organized, competent, dedicated-to-quality professional,” she says.

From there, she is diligent about turning in revision requests in a timely manner.

Be the ‘idea’ person

You already came up with one great article pitch, hence the first assignment. So don’t be a one-hit wonder. That strategy has worked for freelancer Susan Johnston, especially since she writes about business and career trends.

“I try to uncover another idea as I’m researching the first article and pitch it when I file that first article,” she says. “For instance, I used to write for a trade publication geared at niche retailers and I’d ask my sources, ‘What trends are you seeing?’ and ‘What are your biggest pain points?'”

One discovery she made is that some retailers planned to stop accepting personal checks during the recession because more customers were bouncing checks, so she pitched — and landed — a story on that topic.

“Editors love when you provide a steady flow of ideas that are relevant to their readers,” she says.

Provide added value

Do more than just deliver the product on time, advised Nancy LaFever, freelance writer and owner of WriterChick LLC.

“I often line up photos early in the game so the layout people can start planning well ahead of deadline. You have no idea how much it’s worth to have layout love you!” she says.

Some other ways to go above and beyond include making headline, subhead, and sidebar suggestions; sharing an idea about how to make a piece more visual with charts or fun format ideas; and promoting the content on your social media networks.

Be a good sport

 “When it comes to ensuring ‘repeat business,’ I deem it important for writers to be flexible,” says Gina LaGuardia, owner of Gina LaGuardia Editorial Services, an editorial consulting and content management firm. Because she deals with a number of clients, publication types, and project demands, it’s imperative that her writers be versatile and eager to please.

“The professionals I want in my arsenal time and time again are willing to give their all on the project at hand, be knowledgeable and creative about conceptualizing and crafting content — be it in an article, an infographic, even in a sponsored post, and be willing to roll with some punches (if necessary) — and gladly,” she says.

Just like going on a first date, you want to be sure your presentation is polished, you’re easygoing, and that you leave your editor wanting more.

Image courtesy of FladagerPhotography/flickr

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