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Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Writing Job

Updated on January 31, 2012

Think Before You Commit

When you are invited to join a blog or site as a contributing writer, paid or not, it is a huge compliment. In fact, the flattery can be so strong that you quickly accept the writing commitment before carefully deciding what is best for you.

Here are questions to ask of yourself and of your editor before you take on that writing job.

Ask Your Editor These Eight Questions

Although you may feel like a nag to ask so many questions at the beginning of a project, it is important to be crystal clear about expectations so that both sides are happy with the situation. A single email up front can prevent disappointments and even disagreements.

1. Scheduling

How often are you expected to post? Will there be a specific date when the articles are due? What if you have extra ideas? Can you submit articles ahead of deadlines?

2. Images

Do you need to find an image that fits your post or is that the editor's job? (If you do have to find an image, be sure to get detailed attribution information and submit that with your post.)

3. Commitment

And how long of a time commitment is the writing gig -- 6 months, a year? Some editors will return this answer with a vague, "as long as you can write for us." I personally like to make my commitment clear up front. So even if the editor doesn't ask for a certain time frame, I will offer one that I know I can fulfill. It's always easy enough to extend it later. It also gives me a way to stop contributing if I so desire. With some writing jobs, I have served a year and then moved on.

4. The Articles

  • Who is your audience?
  • What word count is expected?
  • Are there any specific topics or categories that are preferred?
  • Should the tone be formal or more conversational?
  • How much should you concentrate on SEO keywords in the articles?
  • Should the article be formatted with bold, italics, bulletted lists, and block quotes or will someone else add the formatting?

5. Promotion

How responsible are you for promoting the articles? Is linking to the article from your blog or Facebook page required? Should you Tweet the article? Does the site have a contributor button which you could feature on your own about page?

6. Linking Policies

What are the linking policies within articles? Is it okay to link to your own blog or to other sites where you have written? Are affiliate links allowed within the posts?

7. Payment

How is payment made? When will payment come in relation to posting?

8. Copyright

Do the articles I write become the property of the site or do I maintain copyright? Does the site have the right to resell your articles or not?

Ask Yourself Questions, Too

When approached with a writing gig, avoid the temptation to be moved merely by the flattery of being asked. Instead, think deliberately about how this writing job can broaden and strengthen your online empire.

Not all rewards are tangible, but they should be easy to identify.

What will you receive from doing this writing job?

  • the pleasure of contributing to a cause you believe in
  • payment
  • adsense impresssions and clicks
  • backlinks to your sites
  • authority and reputation
  • new subscribers for your blog
  • practice writing

If you don't can't identify one or more specific advantages from the writing job, then turn it down. Be strategic with your time. If the writing job does not further your goals, it is a drain on your busy day. Learn to say no to the inferior things so that you can say yes to the superior opportunities.


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