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Article by Wendy McCance
I have written many articles about how I have achieved success as a freelance writer, but I haven’t written too much on missed opportunities. Wanting to keep things real with my readers, I thought I would share a golden opportunity that blew up in my face.
About two months ago I contacted someone on LinkedIn who worked for a prominent business. As part of this person’s job, they wrote for a popular magazine that this business distributed monthly. The person I had connected with was wonderful and passed along the phone number of the editor. I was told that the editor was always on the lookout for new talent and that I should give them a call.
Well, I called and had a great conversation with the editor. They asked for clips of my work and said they would get back with me. A couple of weeks later, I hadn’t heard anything so I called again. The editor was very nice and apologetic. They hadn’t looked over what I had sent them and began asking questions about my background. The conversation was left where they would keep me in mind, but were unsure if I would be a good fit. I had never written a featured story and to date my writing leaned more toward copywriting than toward a magazine article.
I knew I could write an article for the magazine. I had interviewed several people before for press releases and website content. I did understand that magazine writing is very different, but the flow that needed to be developed for a magazine piece was within my reach. I just had to find a way to get my foot in the door.
About a week later, the editor connected with me on LinkedIn. I wrote to them and thanked them for connecting. I also mentioned that if they were ever in need of a freelance writer, I was still interested in writing for them.
I got an email back right away asking me to call. The note stated that they were sure they could find something for me and they were willing to take a chance on me. I was over the moon with excitement. This would be my big break. A chance to write an article that would be printed and delivered to many people in my area.
Well, I called and the editor had very little time to talk. They said they would try me out and pay me to write a featured article. It would be a test piece. If they liked my work, there would be additional assignments in future magazine editions. At the end of the call, I was asked to call back on Friday in the morning, but after 10 am and we would discuss setting up a meeting to go over the information I would need to know to proceed.
I spent time after the call reviewing the company and their magazine again. I wanted to really dissect everything. I reread one of the issues of the magazine I had found online to decide if their writing style was truly within my abilities. When I finished reading, I was still confident that I would do just fine writing for them.
Friday was a crazy day for me. I had a meeting at 9:30 am with a new client and a call at noon with another new client. In between those times, I was to call the editor. I had accepted the time frame in which I could call because they were rushing off the phone, this was my big break and I felt that if I tried to ask for a different time, the editor would take back the offer.
On Friday, I met up with the first client. What should have been a half-hour meeting turned into a meeting that lasted almost two hours. I tried a few times to end the meeting, but we were just getting to know each other and this client had a lot of information they wanted to discuss.
I got out of the meeting and panicked. It was 11:15 am. I was 5 minutes from home and my computer and wanted to be in front of my laptop when I called the editor. I also wanted to be able to write down notes, and so I drove home before calling. As I was running into the house, I was dialing the number. I was seriously stressed out that it was too late to call.
The editor answered just as I got to the computer and I pulled up the website while speaking on the phone. The editor sounded rushed and annoyed which made me even more uncomfortable about calling when I did. Truthfully, I was calling during the time allotted, but if I hadn’t been in a meeting, I would have called right after 10 am.
The editor grilled me on what I had written in the past. Hemmed and hawed about having me write for them and asked me if I was sure I could do the assignment. I explained that I could and even talked about looking up one of their magazines to get a feel for the writing style.
The editor asked me what feature stories I had read and that’s when everything fell apart. I remembered a few pieces of information, but they weren’t featured stories. I was asked what issue I had read. I knew the magazine was from 2013 and had a picture of a horse on the cover. I couldn’t remember the month. I had only looked through one magazine because it was the only one I could find online.
The editor said that my description didn’t sound familiar and was dumbfounded that I couldn’t discuss a featured article that I had read. I was frozen. My brain wasn’t working at all. I wanted to cry. I had been thorough in my research. I did read the articles, but I couldn’t for the life of me pull the information out of my head.
I apologized and said that I had just come from a meeting and couldn’t remember off hand more than what I had mentioned about the magazine. It was a horrible excuse, but I didn’t know what else to say. I had choked. The editor explained that they were finishing putting the assignments together for the next issue and would then be distributing them to the writers. They were unsure if there would be room for me to write an article as well. If they decided to use me, they would call the following week.
I blew it! I missed out on a golden opportunity. I had done all I could, but then went blank when it mattered most to be well informed.
Overall, my day went well. Two new clients had signed on to work with me. I had been in touch with one of the clients off and on for over eight months before I finally got the go ahead to work with them. Even so, I couldn’t get past my embarrassment and disappointment over losing the magazine job. I stewed about it the rest of the day. I was so angry that I couldn’t just forgive myself and celebrate the good part of my day. I just moped around and replayed the messed up call in my head over and over.
By the end of the day, I began to let it go. Maybe there was a reason why it just wasn’t supposed to work out. Maybe I really wasn’t a good fit. Who knows what was going on behind the scenes. It was time to move on.
There will be golden opportunities that get missed. Maybe the opportunities aren’t the big deal you interpreted them to be, but either way, unfortunately, it’s part of the process. Business will never be perfect, but you can learn from the mistakes and move on.
I hope you remember when you have an off day that everyone has days like this. You’re not alone. There are still going to be amazing moments just around the corner.
Can you relate to this article? Have you had a day that really disappointed you? I’d love to hear your story. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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