Today, I want to talk about writing on spec (or on speculation). This means writing the entire article before you’ve landed an assignment. According to dictionary.com, speculation means:
“engagement in business transactions involving considerable risk but offering the chance of large gains.”
So, basically, writing on spec can be a large risk but there could be large gains. In a recent post, I mention never to pitch an entire article but, even if you don’t send it in the pitch, here are some of those risks or reasons not to write on spec:
- You don’t yet know the length needed for the article.
- You don’t yet know the style your editor will request. You could write a list-style when she wants more of a traditional article.
- You don’t yet know of any specific source requests.
- Most of all, you don’t yet know if the article pitch will get picked up at all!
The risk involved in writing on spec is that it can be a waste of time.
When should you write on spec? When can you score one of those large gains?
If you are just starting out and there is another website that will publish your work in exchange for traffic back to your blog and you’ll get a clip out of it, then go for it! Just get super clear, ahead of time, on their requirements for publication.