Monday, September 27, 2010

Some Insights From My Gig-Hunting Experience

The workshop at St Giles on Saturday went extremely well, with really nice reviews. Some participants even asked for a paid, more detailed session. Felt good to know that people felt their Saturday morning was well-spent, and they would even be willing to pay to learn more.

I invested a lot of time in September looking for work, because I want to change my business model. For the past couple of years, I have relied very heavily on a few companies bringing in most of the income. The advantage is that, I mostly have guaranteed billable hours for the work I do for them. The disadvantage is that when that if the contract ends, or one client experiences financial challenges, or doesn't pay on time, I feel the impact more greatly than if it was a smaller client. So I'm trying to move things around so that I have more clients who offer small projects, but on a long-term basis. Ideally, they'd offer quick turnaround in the copy approval process and pay more quickly. I'll still keep the bigger clients, as they would bring irregular, but still, bigger chunks of cash.

Anyhoo, here are some of the things I learnt:

1. Apply for jobs that excite you. It's easy enough to look for jobs you're qualified to do, but is this really work you want to wake up in the morning to do for a while?
2. There are many ways to look for work. Yes, there are jobs boards online, where freelance gigs are advertised. And some of them look pretty good. You should also let your current clients and business contacts know that you're looking for work, so they think of you when opportunities arise. But as a writer, you should also consider approaching PR and communications companies, magazines, medium sized corporates and agencies that represent creatives who all hire writers.
3. Your own sense of optimism will carry you through. Yes, you may have the qualifications, skills and experience, but are you persistent enough to keep knocking on doors even when people don't respond immediately? Do you trully believe that you have something to offer? Because if you don't believe that, then you're going to have a hard time convincing others to invest in you and your services.
4. Watch out for people looking for original samples -  Once my responses started to trickle in, they were mostly positive. Some are still thinking about hiring me for specific projects; others don't have current needs but will keep me in their books. A few asked for original samples.  My answer to that request remains NO. I have enough published material across a variety of media and themes to prove that I can write. I'm not writing an original article for a client who has not hired me yet.And even if you're not very experienced, you shouldn't fall for this trap. Many an unscrupulous publisher have been known to get free samples from job ads, use them, and then advertise again. It's one of the cheapest ways to get people to write for you without ever having to pay them.

Anyhoo, I hope you have a productive week.


tiah said...

That last tip is very good. I had to do a presentation for first round interviews once and I still wonder why it was done then, and not for the final round.

Tamara said...

Yup, that last point is particularly worth highlighting.

Copyright Notice

With the exception of entries specifically credited to individual authors, the content on this blog is copyrighted by Damaria Senne and may not be reprinted without permission.