I recently set up a long-overdue resume site for myself. Still under construction, I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to tweak the bloody thing. It’s the same old gripe, just like tax filing. It is truly important and urgent, but the entire time you spend laboring over it you know those are hours you could be earning some cash instead of futzing around with codes–tax or CSS, it doesn’t matter.
In the early days of my career I cut my teeth reading Robert Bly’s books on freelance writing, and while I daresay that most of the people who read this great book will NOT make $100,000 a year, they CAN earn more than enough to keep the beer and chicken wings flowing freely thank you very much.
For my money, the real value for books like these is as much about showing you that other people can and do earn a living doing nothing but freelancing as it is giving you the advice on queries, research, taxes and all the other stuff. One day somebody will write the definitive book on how to avoid writing, blow off deadlines and ignore your creditors, and we can all learn some lessons in reverse. For now, I highly suggest books like Bly’s, but please take that dollar amount with a grain of salt until you can look back on your career from the time you first cracked this book open and laugh about whether that figure applies to you or not.
Maybe I am a bit biased against dollar amounts on the cover–if only because I keep finding used books with titles like “How to earn $25,000 a Year as a Photographer”. HAH! How dated is THAT one? Why not just call it “How To Take Pictures While Starving.”
Buy for $11.56
According to a Freelance Switch survey, only 15% of surveyed freelancers write a blog. To the 85% of you who are not writing blogs, I say a hearty thank you. Thank you for making my quest for more paying gigs that much easier by taking yourselves out of the race. Self-promotion is one of the most important parts of this crazy business of ours, and by not promoting yourself, your expertise, and years of experience in the game you seriously cut down the competition for yours truly. You guys are awesome.
When I read that 15% factoid as reported in Mike Gunderloy’s post at Web Worker Daily, I admit I was fairly surprised. I would assume a much higher figure. Any freelancer who wants to get paid should be taking a serious look at how they market their number one asset–themselves. If you aren’t pushing your skills, you sell yourself short. Doing a blog is not going to drive employers to your virtual doorstep in droves, they won’t be beating down your door just because you have your shingle out. But any time you apply for a new gig, you should use every tool at your disposal, every advantage over that other 85%.
Bloggers use social networking sites like MySpace for self-promotion all the time. But how can a struggling freelance writer take advantage of the same type of strategies bloggers use? It’s easy. Here’s the breakdown in five easy steps:
1. Cultivate lots of “friends”. The law of averages says the more MySpace friends you have, the higher the response rate will be when you post a link to your material or send a bulletin saying “Hey, look at this!” The extra eyeballs on your work means the greater likelihood that your article will get comments and feedback. The more activity on a given article, the better you look in the eyes of an editor who has to decide whether to use you again.
2. Add “targeted” friends. Got somebody else in the biz you want to make friends with? Maybe an editor or a publication you want to get published has a MySpace site. Add them as friends and start up a casual “relationship” with them by sending the occasional message or posting a nice comment. This is standard MySpace behavior, but when it comes time to strike up a conversation with someone at that publication you won’t be such an unknown quantity at a medium-sized or smaller operation. The key here is to be a semi-regular MySpacer, posting and commenting without mentioning your own work–until you need to.