For writing web content, 2-3 months is generally a decent lead time for seasonal articles. It gives your article enough time to grow authority via incoming links and can help your SERP rankings through the peak of the season.
However- this is the web and a good (SEO good) article will do well year after year, regardless of when it’s released.
Our comrades in the print publication world don’t have it so easy. They may get paid more up front per article, and have the ego-boosting phenomena known as “tear sheets” (samples of your work taken from a real live magazine) but their lead time is roughly 7 months.
Keep that in mind if you plan to strive for print publication. I keep meaning to pitch to regional parenting publications, like my amazing friend Kerri who wrote the eBook “Get Published in Regional Parenting Publications.”
Dan Case from Writing for Dollars recently tweeted an article for freelance writers to help create your own editorial calendar. It has some great ideas for seasonal articles. The excessive lead times were designed for magazine writers.
For a useful tool, print it out and cut the pages up month-by-month, then staple it to your home calendar. Keep the 7 month lead time if you’re pitching print magazines but for web writing, use the 3 month lead time. Oh how spoiled we are writing online.
Speaking of spoiled, a few weeks ago I realized that an eHow article I spent 10 minutes on has brought in almost $200 and it’s only 4 months old, that’s $600 a year from ONE article. Impressed by that stat, I used the same keywords to create complimentary articles on other sites, all of which are showing similar success rate. My final step will be to create a niche website for these keywords (name-of-article.com) Once that site is built, I will link each of the articles to the new site, giving it instant PR authority. (theoretically) Then, I will rule the world, mwahahahahaha