Episode 3: Working with Sources


As writers and photographers, we work closely with sources. They could be expert trainers, models for photos, championship competitors—or a myriad of other personalities. Handling interactions with sources properly can make or break your freelance career. In this episode, Abigail and Kate sat down to talk about how they work with sources: how and when to contact them, how to build rapport, how to chase down elusive sources, managing a runaway interview, shaping quotes and when to call in the editor for a problem. This episode is packed with tips we have gleaned from countless interviews and photoshoots over the years.

Contacting sources: Our protocol on contacting sources depends on the story, but a minimum of four weeks in most cases—event coverage aside—unless we’re looking for a more “off-the-cuff” type response. Trips out of town for interviews or photos can be scheduled out even further.

We try all the methods of communication, starting with the phone, text, email and social media. We don’t bombard the source, but we will contact them a few times before considering using another source.

 Building rapport: We always introduce ourselves in connection to the magazine. Dropping hints that we’re familiar with horses and maybe even their area of expertise, while stressing that we have a common goal of educating the reader often helps. Ask good questions, but be willing to listen.

Chasing down a source: If we’ve tried several times over a week to reach a source, we talk to the editor. Sometimes they can nudge the source, other times they may have a viable alternative source for us.

Reining in the rambler: Neither of us will ever cut off a source if they’re talking. We will, however, ensure that all of our questions get answered if possible, even if we have to return to a precious question. Oftentimes, recapping some important points will help crystalize what the source planned to send you.

Favorite sources: Abigail's favorite category of source is knowledgeable veterinarians at universities. Kate loves a "talker" with a good story.

About The Freelance Remuda

The Freelance Remuda is a podcast about navigating the equine media frontier. Co-hosted by seasoned freelance professionals Abigail Boatwright and Kate Bradley Byars, the podcast explores the trials and triumphs surrounding life as a freelancer in equine media, while sharing valuable tips from equine media editors and creatives doing what they love. Find and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

Abigail Boatwright