The most important two words in a freelance writer’s vocabulary…

… are “thank you”.

Seriously, every day I receive emails from would-be freelance writers, who want to ask my advice about how to start their careers. I could count on the fingers of both hands the number of times I’ve been thanked for the advice I’ve given. Sometimes it’s easy to tell when a person is going to ask your advice and not give you the courtesy of a “thank you”: like the girl who ended her email with the words “please make sure you reply promptly”, for instance, or the ones who address me as “dear Sir”, or get my name wrong.

Sometimes, though, even I am surprised. A couple of months ago, for instance, I was contacted by a girl who sounded very nice. She apologised for taking up my time, asked some pertinent, specific questions (as opposed to the usual, “How do I become a freelance writer?”), and said she would be hugely grateful if I could reply.

So I did. I spent a good long time answering her questions and giving her the best advice I could, in the space of an email. After that? Nothing.

Now, it may not seem like much, but manners are important in business, and especially in a business like freelancing, in which your reputation is all-important. So thank the people who give you advice. Thank the people who give you stories. Thank the PRs who come through with an interview, or information. They will remember that simple courtesy, and be much more likely to want to help you out again.

 


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