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How Interviewing Can Increase Your Income
by Rebecca Matthews

Pays $200-$1000. Those numbers have you light up when you run across them, until you realize the higher end of this pay scale is for articles that require more than just your own knowledge. Articles that are filled with quotes or full interviews stand a better chance at garnering the over $500 mark. Writing about what you know is a great way to get your foot in the door, but after a time, you realize that to increase your bottom line, you need to utilize others’ expertise. Here is where interviews come into play.

Jen Nipps, a freelancer from Oklahoma, relied on her own knowledge for about three years once she became serious about writing and submitting. Jen says “I’ve been interviewing for less than a year. I haven’t seen much improvement in income as yet, but I have received more on-spec assignments when I do a preliminary interview as opposed to when I don’t before sending a query.”

When Barbara Nefer, a freelance writer from Florida, began to freelance, she stuck with what she knew. “I didn’t start doing interviews regularly until I sent out some letters of interest to regional publications. Some of the editors responded with interview assignments, and it grew from there.” She says she saw a definite improvement in her income, about 20 percent, because she began to receive assignments rather then querying with her own ideas.

Interviews are a great way to break into new magazines. Barbara says she “found this is a great way to break into regional publications as they are often looking for locals to do interviews for assigned articles. On the national front, a query to Animal Wellness led to the purchase of my initial piece as well as two assigned interview pieces.”  And you don’t need to be in the same part of the country as your interviewee. “For [the assigned pieces] the interviewees were in other parts of the country, so you’re definitely not limited by your location with national publications.”

The same interview can also generate other articles. According to Barbara, “That is my favorite part of interviewing. For example, an assignment to interview the owners of a miniature donkey farm for Equus Caballus led to an assignment with Grit. My interview with a trainer at Medieval Times in Kissimmee for a horse magazine led to a piece in another equestrian publication. Interviews seem to branch out into other ideas almost every time.”

Become an “expert” in more than one field. While you may have a certain niche, such as animal magazines, or fitness magazines, by interviewing experts, you too can become an expert. Let’s say you have written extensively about dogs or horses; perhaps you have put together a few articles on building leg muscle. Consider doing an article crossing both an animal related topic with a fitness related topic. Now you have a potential article on how dog walking can build calf strength. With your file of interviewees ready at hand, you can call for quotes on your new topic.

“Mid-2008, I started on an actual plan for freelancing instead of going hit-or-miss. In doing that, I knew that in order to make my goals, I would need to do interviews and get expert sources for some of the things I wanted to do,” says Jen. In this way, she has begun to build her portfolio and so can you.

Collecting the names of your sources, as well as numbers, emails, and addresses, can be as simple as putting them on index cards and categorized by expertise, or in as elaborate a manner as files on your computer in specialized programs. A solid plan and a growing file of sources can improve your income by gaining you higher paying assignments and putting you in the forefront of editors’ minds when it comes to assigning those big interview articles.

© Copyright 2009, Rebecca Matthews

Rebecca Matthews is a freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Her work has appeared in such magazines as EQUUS and The Northwest Horse Source.  When she's not writing, you can find her out riding her horses.

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