I bet you’ve seen ads looking for salespeople where the employer is looking for someone who is a “hunter.” This term refers to someone who is actively seeking out new customers for their company’s product or service. The salesperson may spend a good portion of his or her time on the phone cold calling prospects or even calling on prospective customers directly.
Since businesses need to keep selling to keep operating, the sales team must not only ensure that existing customers are being serviced properly, but they must also be looking for new customers. Freelance writers need to have some of that “hunter” mentality as well. If we want to avoid (or at least lower the odds of having) feast or famine cycles in our work, we need to keep our current clients happy by not only meeting, but exceeding their expectations.
We also need to keep in mind that if even we aren’t actively looking for more work, we must keep talking to people who are potential clients or who can put us in touch with people who are in a position to hire us. This part of hunting for work can involve making a certain number of cold calls each week or using e-mail or direct mail to reach out to potential clients. It also includes keeping in touch with former clients to keep your name on their radar or sending out queries to publications.
Being a gatherer when it comes to finding freelance writing jobs is a bit different. If you have a client who has regular work for you or if you have decided to work for a content provider, you are gathering work. I include responding to ads for freelance writing jobs in the gathering category because the ads are being placed by someone who has already decided that they want to hire a writer. If you are in “hunting” mode, you are actively seeking out new business, whether the prospective client is advertising for writers or not.
Is one strategy better than the other? It depends how you define “better.” Hunting for gigs may get you more lucrative work, but gathering can give you the bread and butter earnings that you need to keep your bills paid. There is no single solution that is going to work best for everyone, but if you want to take a cue from hunter-gatherer societies, many of them spent more time gathering than on hunting.
Do you focus your search for freelance writing jobs on hunting for clients or is most of your time spent gathering assignments from people who can provide steady work?