Redundancy: the art form of the freelancer

“Redundancy” by Will Pate.

I wrote a story for Philadelphia Weekly on theatrical performance commissioned by the Village of Arts and Humanities. I also blogged it for uwishunu and pitched it to friends at KYW News Radio and the Inquirer.

Though KYW covered it on its own, and the Inqy will do the same for another round of the performances, I took a single story and group of interviews and sent out different pitches with separate angles on the same subject.

With a little more effort, I got more pay, clips and contacts — without needing fresh sources.

In the increasingly difficult game of freelance writing, redundancy is a skill you need to know and we all need to improve.

Don’t do the same story if you aren’t entirely explicit about it. The Internet is too powerful a tool. You’ll be caught and it won’t be worth it.

But, by all means, take different angles on the same story and do it whenever you can.

When famed poet and North Philadelphia Catholic priest John McNamee retired, well, I profiled his replacement for Philadelphia Weekly and covered McNamee’s future for the Irish Echo.

I still don’t do it as much as should. If you don’t think about this, then you’re not doing yourself justice.

You’re paid by word, by assignment. Every minute on the phone, sentence you write or story you pursue is money, lost or won. That’s why I share extras on this blog. As a freelancer, I’ve promised myself to never throw any work away ever again. True, some I’ll file away because I think it’s something I’ll use in the future, but nothing is lost. I can’t afford it.

There is a craft, too, they tell me, to find reprinted homes for your features in different markets. Here is an area, I need to explore more myself and will happily share with you as I learn it, but the concept isn’t changing. Get more from your work.

Perhaps as my career develops I’ll be able to ease away from this promise, but for now, I’ve decided I won’t so much as go out for a beer without finding an opportunity to review it, cover it or anthologize it. …Maybe three times over.

Image from Will Pate.

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