Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cast Your Net

Someone who I interviewed as an editor once for this blog contacted me the other day. She is now freelancing and just sent me a letter to say "hello." As well, she asked if I could direct her to other sites where one might find work.
Recently, a writer friend of mine commented on a writer's board about how often freelancers these days rely on the web to do their reporting. I think sometimes new freelancers also rely on the web too much to find work.
I told my editor friend the truth - while some of my work comes from finding ads on the web, most of my work comes from good old fashioned networking. She probably knew this from sending me the note, but she was already doing better than contacting 10 job posters on Craig's List - she sent someone in the industry she knew a letter to let them know she was out there. I'm not an editor or publisher, but if I see an ad posted that matches her qualifications, I just might remember her and let her know. As the chair of SPJ's freelance committee, I get a lot of notes every week about the organization's new freelance directory. Some people have joined just because of it, but if they think that alone will bring them work, they have a lot to learn about running a business. Placing our names in directories is the same as a contractor placing his business name in the Yellow Pages. It's great, it gets our name out there, but without referrals or testimonials to back up our claims of what great writers we are, it probably won't get us far.
I thought about the three gigs I've landed this year off of "blind" ads or through a directory listings. Out of those, only one came from an editor with whom I had no previous contact. The directory listing job came to me through a referral of a person with whom I knew on a professional list. The last one is an ongoing gig with a newswire service. The ad generated the service a ton of resumes, but my name stuck out at the editor because our paths had crossed through a professional organization.
So, when people ask me where they can find work, I always tell them to do what reporters do - hit the pavement and make contacts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post!

I have found that family and friends can be amazing resources, as well as folks you meet professionally. I have had friends refer me for resume writing, PR, web content, corporate work,and nonprofit work. While not all of these opportunities panned out, the fact that the referral was made kept me on the radar of prospective clients, which is never a bad thing.

12:16 PM CDT  

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