Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – A – C: From AP Style to Crib Sheet

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – D – G From Deadlines to Ghostwriting


The attention grabber,  the big bold letters at the top of the articles that stop readers in their tracks. Example: “Sixty Ways to Drive Your Man Wild” or “Top Ten Blogging Tips for Beginners” or “Why Your Kids Hate You.” Careful with the sensational ones, readers hate a content tease.


Hypertext markup language. Without getting all techie, it’s the tags that create <b>bold</b> lettering, italics, indentations, hyperlinks, etc. Some gigs – blogs, websites, content providers, etc. will require  writers be familiar with how to use HTML. The good news is if you don’t know the language, you can learn it free. There are tons of sites that provide the basic, more commonly used tags along with online tutorials.

Kill Fee

It’s not a stake through the heart of a writer, but it’s close. It definitely bruises the ego! A kill fee is when a magazine says they love your idea, requests you write it for a set price, you sign the contract and then once the article is written the editor has changed their mind for whatever reason. The article won’t run in the publication, but they give a smaller payment – typically 20 to 50 percent for your trouble. The kill fee practice is controversial, with some writers refusal to sign contracts with kill fees. They argue the kill fee undercuts the value of a writer’s work and that whether the article is used or not, the writer fulfilled their contractual obligations. Editors argue that kill fees protect publications from  paying full price for poor writing. Take a look at a few of FWJ’s write ups about it here and here. The wonderful writers at Renegade Writer has a great piece on kill fees as well.

Landing page

If a client asks you to write something for their landing page, they want you to write ad copy for a lead generator page. This the page that pops up whenever a potential customer clicks the magic button in an advertisement.

Lede (Lead)

A lede (lead) is one of the key parts of an article. Sure, all parts are important, but the lede is the hook. After the headline, it’s what grabs a reader and makes them sit  down for a few minutes to soak in your masterful prose. The lede introduces your piece to readers. “Lede” is the original spelling going back to the great days of newspaper journalism though a lot of writers refer to it as “lead” either way works. Read about lede history and impress your writer friends at your next get together.


One response
  1. 500 Word Articles Avatar

    Awesome stuff!

    I’m an amateur and I never knew about kill fees. I’m sure it can get pretty controversial.

    Off to read up more on the lede history.


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