Return to the Garden Writers Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Horticultural copywriters.

Posted by Rosefiend z5a NW Mo. (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 21, 05 at 20:40

I'm trying to get started in horticultural copywriting -- I've shaken a bunch of hands at the WNLA trade show and sent out close to 1,000 letters so far. I've been doing this for about a month and a half, and I still don't have any clients, though I've had a few folks that were interested, and I had two suppliers ask me to come work for them in another state.

Basically I'm trying to figure out if I need to take my marketing in a different direction. I probably need to make more phone calls, though I am terrible at talking. Anyway, somebody give me validation, or maybe a swift kick in the rear, because I need to get some money coming in soon. Teach me, O great ones! Please.

Rosefiend.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 5, 05 at 16:33

To get into any kind of copywriting (I'm currently a copywriter in a marketing dept. - I used to be a PR manager but was downsized into the writing position), you need samples of...copy. Preferably, copy that addresses the area you're interested in - in your case, horticulture.

Instead of sending letters, send a few clips of horticultural articles you have written. If you haven't written any, write something for GardenWeb, a local gardening newsletter... anything so you can show public exposure of your work, in a professionally styled and written format.

Also, you need to target the style and content of the writing toward the main focus of the publication or business you hope to work for.

That's a start. The key thing is that to be a writer, you have to write. Otherwise, your portfolio is empty, and no one will have the data needed to decide whether you should be writing for them.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

Hey Cady. Thanks for the response.

I've written mostly gardening articles for magazines -- BackHome, Practical Gardener, Garden Compass, Capper's, Grit, etc. I have written a newsletter and brochure samples. When someone asks me for samples, I enclose one or two articles with the samples, as well as my resume. (I worked as a horticulturist for the last six years, mainly.)

I've gotten a number of responses from people who like my letter, but once I send them a price sheet, I don't hear another peep out of them. I'm coming to realize that Peter Bowerman never worked for horticultural corporations ...

Now my question is this: how do we determine how much our writing goes for? That is, how the heck much should I charge? I need the work and I don't want to scare away any more clients!

Melinda R. Cordell
Savannah, Mo.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 5, 05 at 13:01

Unless you are a famous name, it's the publisher who calls the price shots, not the writer. When you send an inquiry with samples, you could ask what the publication typically pays per article or per word. If you pick up a copy of The Writer's Guide (which I believe is updated yearly), it lists just about every US and Canadian publicly-available publication along with the type of articles they look for and what they pay.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

Oh! Sorry. I should add that these are regular old businesses like Greenleaf, Ball Seed Co., Park Seed/Wayside Gardens -- corporate clients. I've also gotten responses from small hort companies -- greenhouses, bulb companies, and the like, who need a little writing help with brochures, advertisements, and promotional fliers.

Writing for corporations is a little different than writing for magazines. (I did, however, get a bite from Organic Gardening ... about time!) Don't worry, I have my 2005 Writer's Mkt on my desk, but big parts of it are already out of date. Arrgh!

Melinda.


 o
Whoops ....

But wait, you're a copywriter. Shall I simply skip the price sheet altogether? Then, when I get a job in hand, I'll let them start the haggling.

BTW, are there any online forums where copywriters hang out and talk shop? I could stand to get an earful.

Melinda.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 5, 05 at 23:10

Oops... I should have noticed that you were talking corporations and not magazine publishers.

I do think it's a good idea to haggle once you have the job in hand. Negotiating is a lot easier when you know that they want you. They might ask you what you have in mind for payment. If their eyebrows shoot up when you name your price, you can always suggest that they give you a realistic idea of their budget and work from there.

There are writers forums all over the Internet; many are for literary types, but there are some for commerical writers. I don't spend time on them because I'm not much of a chatting type when it comes to talking about writing. I'm more of a "just write" sort and don't discuss it much. Guess that comes from having a "dayjob" as a commercial writer.

Again, you can find out pretty much what you need to know from the Writer's Guide. The rest is mainly learning from clients/potential clients themselves when they tell you what they are looking for.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

Your approach sounds a lot better. I'll try that.

I know what you mean about not wanting to talk about writing due to the day job. When I worked as a city horticulturist, people would always say, "Oh, you must have a gorgeous garden at home!" And I'd say, "Er ... no."

I'm going to have to re-contact all the clients I sent a price sheet too and explain that prices have changed. That should be fun. Oh, well, that's how I learn!

Thanks for your help.

Melinda.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 7, 05 at 11:45

Heh. I'm a horticulturist/professional gardener too. So, I don't like to "talk writing" off duty, AND my garden is a mess.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

We're professional gardeners and professional garden writers AND we have a great garden. There's nothing I find more relaxing than playing around (I can't use the word 'working) in our own garden. I can work all day in someone elses garden and then can't wait to dig my fingers into our own dirt.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 7, 05 at 21:16

If I didn't have to spend 10.5 hours a day commuting and working at a desk at a non-garden-related job, my garden would likely look better. Actually, it looks half reasonable considering. When I'm not working the day job or moonlighting designing and installing other people's gardens, I try to spend as much time as possible in my own.

Maybe I should shift focus to mirror alpiner's -- garden writing instead of pushing an employer's product! Then I could use my clients' gardens and my own garden as "experimental sites" full of potential writing topics.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

Alpiner, when I was a horticulturist, I was my own staff -- I did all the work myself, everywhere. Every morning I would wake up and my body would hurt so bad, but I'd have to drag myself out of bed and do it all again. Man, I don't miss that. Also, I worked for a boss who was convinced he knew more about horticulture than I did, because he taught biology to high schoolers. Aaaaaa!

At any rate, by the end of the day, I had nothing left -- not for my garden, not for the housework, and not much for my little girl. It was, as the Buckinghams would say, kind of a drag.

Now that I'm not horticulturing, I'm perfectly happy creating this permaculture setup in my backyard. Also, the permaculture will provide food when my writing doesn't pay the bills! (Which is daily ... better plant more.)

You're right: gardening is fun. But when I worked for the city, it hurt!

Cady, your own garden can be a good source for writing. I'm using my garden as a lab for soilbuilding and earthworm studies. Commuting sucks. Don't you wish you could ride a bicycle, or telecommute! Or buy a diesel truck and run it with vegetable oil. Stop by McDonald's to buy lunch and fill the tank. Hmm...oh, I can dream, can't I?

Melinda.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 11, 05 at 14:36

Thanks, Melinda. You're right: There must be a zillion story ideas in my garden. I just have to take a moment from picking twigs out of my gravel and slugs off the hostas, and focus on writing.

And, commuting does suck.

Funny you mention the vegetable oil fuel. The maintenance man at a local college (Mass.) tinkered with that concept to the point where the school bought him an old Volkswagon van and let him rig up a vegetable oil system. He now uses more than 1/3 of the college dining service's discarded cooking oil each week and drives the car around as a promo-demo for resource conservation and recycling.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

"Cady, your own garden can be a good source for writing."

Our garden is the source of lot of our own magazine and especially newspaper articles. Besides, it's fun to see photos in publications of your own creations. People REALLY like to see mention or photos their pets in an article....less intimidating than photos of themselves but with the same intimate quality.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 12, 05 at 10:52

That explains the plethora of magazine pics of gardens with schnauzers in them! You can tell what dog breed is trendy by reading garden magazines.

The other garden photo trend is for pics of chickens in the garden. Perhaps Martha Stewart was the initiator of that one.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

Cady, is there some way I could get hold of the vegetable oil guy? I just finished an article for Digger magazine on a fellow who runs his greenhouse on vegetable oil, and I've been interested in fixing up a diesel truck to run on vegetable oil. Not that I know anything about mechanics. And the logistics of acquiring and cleaning the oil are a little daunting, because I don't have a field to put the barrels in to let the gunk separate from the good stuff.

Melinda.


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 28, 05 at 11:15

I didn't save the story, which came out last month. If you want to call or write to Gordon College in Hamilton, Mass., they would be able to help you find the head groundskeeper/maintenance guy who rigged the vegetable oil fuel setup. I'll look up contact information for you.


 o
Gordon College 'Veggiemobile' RE: Horticultural copywriters.

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 28, 05 at 11:19

Melinda,
Here is contact information for Gordon College. If you write to them and say you're trying to find the campus maintenance man who developed the vegetable-oil fueled car, someone will probably be able to put you in touch.

Gordon College
255 Grapevine Road
Wenham, MA 01984
978.927.2300
info@gordon


 o
RE: Horticultural copywriters.

Thanks, Cady!

Melinda.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Garden Writers Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here