As part of my freelance writing work last week, I drove to a local therapy practice to interview the founders about their work. I had pitched the article idea to my editor, she had accepted, and I worked out a time to talk with the two women at their location. We sat in one of the rooms and had a conversation that naturally developed as I walked into their peaceful, welcoming building, a place that certainly presents a balanced rhythm of cheerful and serene.

After almost an hour-long discussion with these two women, and having been referred to them by a trusted friend who works with them, they certainly seemed to be an authentic human reflection of the practice they have built and the field for which they hold high respect. They had so much to say about helping people. And I can tell: they feel they still have so much to do.

When a Phone Call Just Doesn’t Cut It

I would not have experienced this enthusiasm with a phone call. A Skype interview would not have allowed me to get a feel for the place. I would have missed being able to watch their faces and jot notes as they went back and forth answering questions I hadn’t yet asked while sitting on a comfortable couch in a room with big windows and big sunlight. Without this in-person interview, my work for the client wouldn’t have been near as good.

I am proud of the piece I wrote and the final draft I turned in yesterday. It had my attention at separate times for for three days in a row since I worked ahead of the deadline. Because of my experience as a freelance editor and when possible, I like to give stories at least a couple of sunsets worth of fresh eyes.

I’ll make a short trip

This particular story is better for it. It will go live on an award-winning community site from a regional bank, a bank that thrives on a small-town, regional feel. In addition to their regular site for current account holders, they use content here to tell the stories of people, events, and businesses around the state.

Sure, sometimes a phone interview is fine

Driving for every article I write or to meet every person I need to speak with for information isn’t feasible. Sometimes people are located out of my town. Other times, I really only need to get a couple of answers via phone or email.

But when I can, I make the drive. Yes, it is built into my project fee (or added as necessary for hourly work). It’s a cinch to justify to clients. Do you want the best story I can give within the deadline? Is it a reasonable distance or me to drive?

If yes, I’m grabbing my keys.