Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
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Useful Freelance Terms You Should Know About


Joining the world of freelancing is a world that can confuse. You’ll come in contact with a range of terms you’ve never heard about before. If you’re wondering what that word in your contract says or why your client keeps asking you for something you’ve never heard of, you’re in the right place. Read through this useful list of freelance terms and you’ll have no problems navigating the treacherous world of freelance jargon.

Advertorial – The business wanting to advertise themselves have created an article and paid the publication for it. It appears as a normal article, but it’s actually sponsored by a business.

Bio – This is a brief description about you as a writer. You may have to write one of these for a magazine or newspaper.

Body – The body of an article is the bulk of the article between the introduction and the conclusion. This is where the majority of your content is.

Byline – This is your name at the top of the article. Your name at the bottom of an article is known as a tagline.

Caption – A brief description of an image.

Charticle – This is a short article dominated by a large graphic image. These tend to appear in women’s magazines these days.

Clip – A piece of work you’re proud of in your portfolio. This is essentially your hall of fame that you will show to potential clients. It can be anything from a ghostwritten article to website copy.

Conflict of interest – This is where a personal or professional connection has a link to what you’re writing about. Any conflict of interest must be revealed clearly, or you could be breaking the law. Most conflicts of interest can be avoided with a minimal amount of effort.

Consumer publication – These are magazines and newspapers you’ll find sitting on newsstands. These are the publications the general public see. If you’re still trying to convince your family and friends you have a real job, it’s great to have a piece published in a consumer magazine.

Copy – A technical term for the words that you write.

Copywriting – This is a term applied to writing promotional content for businesses. It’s an extremely lucrative side of freelance writing.

Creative brief – This is a description of the project you’re working on. It’s something an agency or business client will likely send you to inform you about what the project will entail and what goal you need to fulfil.

Custom publication – This is a publication released by a magazine publisher. It may be a print publication or an online publication.

Dek – The second part of a headline, often displayed in italics. In newspapers it’s positioned under the main headline.

Deliverable – The deliverables are what you’re supposed to submit to complete the project. This could range from a single article to a full document of web copy.

Dummy copy – Placeholder copy placed onto a website for layout purposes. The most common dummy copy is the Latin ‘lorem ipsum’ copy.

FOB – Front of the Book pieces are shorter articles that appear towards the front of a publication. They may be no longer than a few hundred words.

FPO – For Position Only is abbreviated for the purposes of artwork that’s placed into the design of a magazine instead of a completed article to show people what the layout of a publication will be.

Hed – An abbreviation used for the headline. You’ll find this mainly in a newspaper and magazine setting.

Hook – This is the main premise for why people would want to read your article. It could come in the form of a rhetorical question or a headline designed to stun passers-by.

Inforgraphic – Information graphics are elaborate charts with pictures and images coming together to quickly explain a subject. They often appear independently of articles and can stand alone.

Kicker – The article’s conclusion. A kicker is supposed to leave the reader with something to think about.

‘Kill’ Fee – This is the amount paid to the writer if they decide not to run an article at the last moment. It’s usually around 10-20% of the original fee for publication.

Lede – This is the lead of an article. They’re the opening sentences of the article.

Letter of introduction (LOI) – A pitch letter you send to a potential client. It introduces you as the writer and talks about what you want to write about. It’s normally used for trade publications and businesses.

Native ads – These are sponsored blog posts. They give useful information but contain some promotional copy and links. Native ads apply to the online arena only.

Nut graf – This is the paragraph that leads away from the lede and into the main body of the article. It sums up the main points of what you’re about to cover.

Op-Ed – An opinion piece. A ‘letters to the editor’ section would be a prime example of this.

Query – An article idea that you pitch to the editor of a magazine.

Red ink – An editor’s changes. This term gains its name because editors traditionally mark changes in a red pen. This is still used in the case of Microsoft Word documents where changes are made on a computer.

Sidebar – A short addition for an article. Most of the time, an editor will request this specifically. It’s useful for implementing information that doesn’t really slot into the main body of an article.

Subhead – The subheadings in the article.

Tagline- The byline but at the bottom of the article instead of the top.

TK – A shortened way of saying ‘to come’. This is used as a placeholder for photos and sidebars that have yet to be implemented. It’s a way of making first drafts faster.

Trade publication – Regional and national publications targeted for people in a specific field. For example, Writer’s Digest is targeted towards writers.

White space – Blank spaces between the various elements of a publication.

Work for hire – Found in contracts used for business copy and trade publications. It means you’re giving the publication rights to the client in exchange for pay.

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