I thought I’d jot these down for you. I have to make this caveat though. These are ways to find work or places you can look for work – I cannot dictate how successful you will be, because that is entirely up to you. It is all dependent on who you contact, how good your portfolio, writing or C.V. is and how dedicated you are to spending significant amounts of your day both writing, applying to and chasing up job opportunities as well as marketing yourself. Let’s face it – we may all have the potential to be J. K. Rowling like and write bestsellers but we need to keep body and soul together till we get there. The list starts below and continues past the fold.
Photograph: “Business Woman” by Ghislain Lamothe on Flickr.
- Word of mouth – pass out your business cards and get people you have worked with in any capacity to refer you on. Even if you haven’t written anything directly for people, if they have seen how well you write, they can start jabbering about you. My college friends are ever ready to tell people: a) how much I know, b) how well I write and c) how I can organise anything. Of course they may have a tendency to exaggerate but their excitement when they tell other people about you is worth a hell of a lot. The point is until you ask them to refer you to others they may not even think of doing it – quite frankly, they have a lot of other things to think about so tell them that you need all the help you can get.
- Write a LOT for various organisations. Call them up, ask if they have a newsletter and offer to write for it for free. I know a lot of people say, don’t do anything for free but this will help build up your portfolio and give you experience on your C.V.
- Create and maintain a main portfolio of your BEST work in Word/PDF. Put it up on your website if you have one. Then create a tailored portfolio to send in to any positions/jobs that require one. Send tailored ones along with your queries.
- Get a copy of the Australian Writer’s Marketplace/The Writer’s Market and use it as your bible. USE IT. DON’T LET IT SIT ON THE SHELF GATHERING DUST. Find information about where to send your articles , what publications would be best and then check the online websites for those publications to make sure the people you need to send the work have not been shuffled around. Call them up and tell them you’re sending a query in. Then send in a query, describe the article, and send in your portfolio (tailored to what kind of writing you’re sending in as well). Give it two weeks and contact them to find out if you are successful or not. Call them up if you can.
- Check out SEEK and the other online job boards for part time/ casual/ contract/ temporary work involving writing, editing, document creation. You could look for full time positions but basically if you have a business you want some sort of work that will allow you time to work with other clients as well.
- You could check out online sites such as Elance and so on but these seem to offer you most work at $1 per article which is not worth the time and effort really. If you can use these sites to generate some meaningful income that doesn’t bore you to tears then by all means do so. It doesn’t, however, work for everyone.
- Figure out what you are interested in writing about. Not what you are interested in but what you are interested in that you would also actually not mind writing about. Then spend about 20 minutes a day reading the news/blogs/sites related to that topic. When people require someone to write about a particular topic, they post the job offer right where they know they will find a lot of people with sufficient knowledge about the topic. In this case they are looking for interest and knowledge in the topic first and then picking out the best writers out of that number. A case in point is when Matt of WordPress fame posted a job offer from Wiley Publishing who are looking for several writers to write books about WordPress. I reposted it here because I know that this blog’s RSS feed is fed to Kottu.org where there are a lot of people who know about the inner workings of WordPress.
- Determine who you can help or who you can offer a service to. Could you teach students how to write better essays? Then post flyers at the universities in your city. Could you help out businesses? Then hand deliver or mail flyers to the local businesses. I am currently offering a free cup of coffee to anyone in local business who wants to chat with me about what they might need me to do whether it is to set up and manage a site/blog for them or to write a report, design a flyer or do some accounting work or just simply organise things. If they call me, I can arrange to meet them at a cafe and pay for the coffee while they show me what they have and discuss what they want or need sorted out.
- Just write a lot. Keep in touch with what’s happening. Write about it. Then find out who will want to publish it and where. If you don’t write, chances are you won’t get published.
- Don’t wait for someone to say “You should write a book”. Come up with the ideas now, do the research, write the book or at least part of it. Then go discuss it with people who will know what you need to do next such as other published writers in the same genre, publishers and agents.
- Join the writing clubs and societies. They often have freelance registers that you can put yourself on – try literati at Writing W. A.’s website if you are in W.A. The SOEWA has a freelance register for editors. Go check out the other writing centres where you are such as the Queensland Writing Centre and the Sydney Writers Centre.
- List yourself on your state government’s tender website. Tenders W.A. is a good example. If you are offering a service and you want government work, this is where you go. Register yourself for free, search the list for writing work and apply whenever something you can do comes up. For writers it might take awhile but this is worth it.
- If your local council has special events or forums for small business owners or microbusinesses, it is worth tagging along to them. You get to talk to people and quite often chatting to people will get you more work than sending out flyers will because it is more personal. With a flyer you are stabbing in the dark slightly as to what people will need. You don’t know HOW a business is organised so you can’t necessarily tell if they need someone do write anything for them or not. It’s best to talk to them instead – often you might find that they need someone to write something on a personal basis not on a commercial one.
- Find the state government body for small business in your state. In W.A. it is the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC). They have several networks you can join – women in business, home based business, small business and so on. Join the ones that apply to you and post on the forums regularly. Post your rates and any discounts and so on. Talk to the people on these forums. They are people who own small business and may need what you offer.
- Get a hold of any trade journals relating to writing and publishing and keep checking out the jobs section in these publications. Something might just crop up.
- Keep your C.V. up to date. List every bit of writing you have done and a possible referee or link or reference for where it was published.
- Sounds odd in this day and age but check the newspapers. You never know. There may not be a job ad but there might be a section where they routinely publish work by freelancers.
- Use sites such as ArtsHub that cater specifically to jobs in the arts and creative industries.
- Enter competitions. As much as possible … and win.
- Find the trade journals for your country and profession and subscribe to them. They often have job listings. One example is the Weekly Book Newsletter published by Thorpe Bowker.
- Talk to people who already work within the industry: published writers and authors, publishers, editors, proofreaders, printers, sub editors, reporters & journalists … however you can and whenever you can.
I hope these help. Let me know if you have any more ideas.