What’s a Byline?
A byline is a line at the top or bottom of a written deliverable that credits the work to you. They usually come with a headshot and a brief author’s biography page. When you click on the byline, your clients will land on your author's page. All your articles for that publication will be there and attributed to you .
Does every deliverable come with a byline?
No, not every deliverable comes with a byline.
It’s more common in some areas than others. For example, blogs or medical journals may come with bylines. Continuing Education Credits or test prep questions may not be credited to a singular person. Your contract should say whether you have a byline or not.
Sometimes, another person may take credit for the deliverable. In that case, you would be ghostwriting the content. You may be paid more for your work because you won’t be receiving any credit for the written content. Ghostwriting
positions may pay more because you won’t receive that coveted byline.
Certain blogs or news briefs choose to not have a byline. They choose a more simplistic style instead. This would be written in your contract, and it may be inside their style guide. You can always ask during the on-boarding stage whether you will have an author’s bio and a byline.
Why is it important?
Bylines are important because they improve your reach and recognition. When someone sees your work, you want them to know you wrote it. It’s like free publicity every single time. This is particularly important if it’s a well-known publication.
Imagine you wrote a dynamite article and it found its way on the first page of Google. If another editor sees it, they want to know who to contact. This ties into always leaving your contact information on your author biography page. You never know who on the internet is reading your content. It could be your next big client.
Your bylines read like an online resume. There’s nothing more rewarding than adding a new byline to your lineup. They also act like your social proof.
Anyone can say they work for a publication. But, you have the online proof to back it up. And once you funnel your potential client to one of your articles, they can see more.
Imagine you’re two years into your writing contract with a big name. You’ve already written dozens of articles, but you can’t fit them all in your portfolio. You send your portfolio out to your dream client, and they click on your author’s page. They skim the dozens of titles you have attributed to your name just from that one client.
Sending bylines can act like an interactive resume to potential clients.
You never know who is watching. Editors use the internet too, and they may just be googling something that brings up your content. Because you have a
byline and an actionable way to reach you in the author’s bio, that editor can find you for future work.
A lot of the content you write may be on the internet for years to come. If it lands on the first few pages of Google, it acts like a free billboard for you. And it’s a billboard that's accessible 24/7 all over the world. The potential is huge.
When people Google your name, your bylines will come up. Say goodbye to that embarrassing Facebook picture that your friend won’t get down. Or that time you got arrested for a parking violation. Bylines help increase your professional presence on the internet.
The next time a client or future employer Googles you, your bylines will come up on the first page. Google will prioritize your bylines because they’re probably getting more traffic than your older, more embarrassing pages on the internet. That’ll help bury that Myspace page from 2007 that you forgot to deactivate.
Your portfolio is one of the first building blocks for your freelancing career.
Almost every single client will ask to see our portfolio. It’s how they know you’ll be able to do the work. Interviews and resumes are one thing, but portfolios are what really seal the deal.
And published bylines are the gold standard. A published byline means that the work is officially credited to you in a public space. It means that you were able to work in a team setting with an editor to push out a finished deliverable. You’re the real deal.
Can You Negotiate a Byline?
It never hurts to ask. I’ve actually scored bylines this way as a newbie. Remember: As your own boss, you can negotiate whatever aspects of the contract you’d like.
I collect bylines like they’re Pokemon cards. I gotta catch them all. Every time I negotiate a new contract, I request a byline. If I don’t, I try to negotiate a higher rate.
Bylines highlight your talent as a writer by increasing your presence on Google. They add credibility to your name. Bylines can serve as a 24/7 resume where your future clients can see your work without you having to lift a finger. Who doesn’t love free, positive publicity?
Are you looking for more writing tips? You can check out my course here.