The New York Observer reports Conde Nast making a five percent cut in budget AND staff across the board. The existence of at least one title, Men’s Vogue, is in doubt at press time, and freelancers were mentioned by name as one of the resources that could be cut to fit the bill. Five percent doesn’t sound like that much for an organization as large as Conde Nast until you read further and learn that the five percent cuts apply for EACH PUBLICATION, not an as-a-whole, company-wide reduction.
Combine that news with the parting shot the Christian Science Monitor fired this week when it was announced the venerable publication would stop printing hard copies of its daily edition in favor of web-only publication and you have some interesting times for freelancers ahead.
The breed of writer I call “newsstand freelancers” are going to suffer as the big-money titles start shaving their budgets, but any freelancer who knows how to market, diversify writing gigs, and look in unique places for new work shouldn’t have much to worry about at this point, at least not in my view.
The key to all this is reading the headlines and anticipating the next round of tough times. Take a close look at your current situation. Are you earning the bulk of your income from a single source. It’s time to start adding clients to protect yourself. Is your resume page outdated or in need of a new look that helps it look more “web 2.0”? Invest the time, you may need to use that page soon. Are you a new full-time freelancer? Solidify your existing relationships with clients and editors by turning your projects in early, being flexible as possible, and willing to take on short-notice gigs that are inconvenient to you but endear you to your editor.
The key to avoiding the lay-off axe, the budget cuts and the tough times is to make yourself as indispensible as possible. Ask yourself how you can do that with your current editors and get to it. You’ll find yourself in a much better position as a result. The tough times are here, but not for everyone. Where you stand depends greatly on how you seek new work, approach the editors and deliver the content.