Looking for work is a necessary evil for freelance writers. For people who work for employers, part of the reason finding a job is something to celebrate (along with a regular pay check and hopefully a good benefit package) is that they don’t have to keep looking for work.
For freelancers, it’s a different story. We have the freedom to work for ourselves (which definitely has its advantages), but we must perform a juggling act in our professional lives. Not only do we need to be able to keep up with our current assignments and produce high quality work, but we must also be constantly on the lookout for the next gig.
We can use a variety of methods to hunt for work. Putting up a web site, writing a blog to feature our expertise to a specific niche market and keeping in contact with people in your circle of professional acquaintances can all be effective strategies. Cold calling and passing out business cards are also good ways to find work.
If you have ever gotten to the point where you feel bogged down by this activity, you’re not alone. It’s easy to get into the mind set that looking for work is a chore. No one looks forward to doing chores, do they? These activities are things we have to do but that don’t really appear on the “want to do” radar at all.
Unless you can find a way to turn looking for freelance writing gigs into something that you can get excited about, it’s going to remain a chore and something that you will get bogged down in. It’s also very difficult to present yourself in the best way you can if you are not feeling enthused about communicating with a potential client.
In a situation where your freelance writing job search isn’t getting you the results you are hoping for, consider whether you are just going through the motions when you are looking for work. You would rather work with people who are enthusiastic about what they do and excited about a new opportunity than a person who is just not feeling it.
You have the power to kick start your freelance writing job search by adding some enthusiasm any time you choose to do so. Turn the process from a “have to” to a “get to”, as in “Today I get to talk to someone about how I can help their business.”
The best thing about this approach is that it isn’t dependent on outside circumstances. You can choose to look at talking to people about what you do and how you can help them as an adventure or a chore. Which one will you choose today?
When I first realized I needed to really buckle down and start marketing my writing in early 2009, I thought of it as a horrible chore. It took so much time away from writing!
But eventually, I kind of got hooked on it and fell in love with the challenge of finding great new clients. I tried a lot of different marketing strategies and found a few I really liked, including in-person networking and using LinkedIn and Twitter. Once I got fully booked again, it was hard to cut back my marketing time — I’d gotten into the swing of it!
Definitely agree that you need to learn to enjoy it to be most effective at it. In looking at query letters from writers in my mentoring program, I can tell right off who really doesn’t want it bad enough — the pitches are thinly researched and just feel sort of lazy and half-thought-out.
Let your passion for your writing show in your marketing, though, and you catch a lot of attention. Within about a year, I was fully booked again and dropping lower-paying clients.
I think many writers start marketing with a feeling of hopelessness, that they can’t make a difference in their career. Once you realize you can — with a well-crafted query, with sending direct mail or cold-calling — it’s very empowering and the thrill of the win gets addictive!
Paul Novak says
Finding work for me is only a chore when I have none on the table. When I have contracts, I enjoy looking for more and get a kick out of researching potential clients and assessing what I can do better than they already have.
Once I made the decision to actively pursue a freelance career, my perception of the web changed almost overnight. Rather than simply reading for entertainment, I found myself scrutinizing web pages, noting errors and poor construction, comparing my work with what is being presented elsewhere and all around giving a more professional eye to web content than I had previously.
I’ve found that the challenge is not so much simply finding work, but finding the right work and demonstrating how you can do it better.
Jennifer L says
I love it when I get all excited about a query that I’m working on. I have fun with it, and I think it does show. But I don’t think I can always sustain that level of excitement on every single thing that I do when sustaining my freelance writing biz.
My goal now is to be more consistent and diligent about doing the things that I don’t really enjoy (i.e. looking through advertisements for writing gigs) so that I really do enjoy the things that I prefer (i.e. researching story ideas that excite me and then fleshing them out in an actual pitch for an editor).
Let’s just hope I can see this through!