What Richard Zowie is up to as a writer

I’ll spare my readers my lame “5’8!” response…oh, wait, I just gave it. Never mind.

I still write for the the Genesee County Herald. I write news, sports, a column and also take pictures. It can be tiring since–depending on the season–sometimes I’m up until the early morning hours on Tuesdays completing sports assignments. A few athletes from one school like to tease me about not remembering their names, and I’m inclined to politely level with them and say: “Ladies, do you have any idea how many schools and sports teams I deal with? [Currently, about 20 teams] And every year, the rosters change due to graduation and to new players coming in.”

I’m also trying to get back into freelance writing in my off-time, since it can largely be done at my laptop with my cell phone. It’s a matter of being relentless and building client lists.

When it comes to freelancing, some lessons I’ve learned:

1) Take deadlines seriously. Getting work in ahead of deadline is never a bad thing.

2) When it comes to payment agreements, get it in writing and save it for your records. You just might need it if you suddenly have to serve as a debt collector. Which leads me to…

3) If someone stiffs you on an assignment, feel free to post as such when they try to hire out for new work–just make sure you report the facts. One certain gentleman owes me $100 for a freelance assignment about blind-spot mirrors on cars, and I doubt I’ll ever see that money. In retrospect, I should’ve been much more aggressive.

4) Avoid clients who either can’t pay or tell you that your “payment” is for your byline to run with the story. Well, of course your byline runs with work you’ve written. (The only time at the Herald that I don’t put my byline on a story is when all I’ve done is copy edited it). If the client lacks the budget to pay a writer, then they should not be asking for the work to be done. Tell your auto mechanic that you need them to replace your alternator but that you don’t have any money to pay them but will tell your friends to have work done at their shop.

Two hours later, when they’re done laughing, they’ll tell you, no thanks.

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

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