Applying for a Freelance Writing Gig Without Looking Desperate

If you are going through a dry spell or are experiencing some cash flow issues, you will want to pick up some work that (hopefully) will pay relatively quickly so that you can get your finances back on track. It may be tempting to share your current situation on message boards or other places where you are trying to pick up something that can tide you over for the time being. While I do understand and appreciate needing to get something going right away, I’m not sure that sharing a lot of detail about your personal situation is a good thing.

Before I go on, let me share something about myself. I consider myself to be a generally friendly person, but I’m also very private. Back when I was working in an office, I never really knew how much personal stuff was OK to share with people so I erred on the side of keeping things to myself. If I wasn’t sure whether something should be said, I didn’t.

Once I realized that people would much rather talk about themselves, I make a point of getting them to talk. Very few people noticed that I listened much more than I talked. One person I worked closely with told me that I was doing the “still waters run deep” thing, and I suppose he was right. When you read my take on how much to tell a prospective client about your personal situation, keep in mind that it’s being made through that lens.

There are ways to let someone know that you are available without sounding desperate. If you are approaching someone in your network about picking up some work, all you really need to say is that some time has opened up in your schedule and you are available for assignments immediately. It’s simple and professional. You don’t need to share a whole lot about your personal situation, and doing so may not help you get hired.

I have approached clients about picking up some more work because my schedule suddenly got a lot less busy than I needed it to be. I’ve also had to talk to some of them about changing our payment arrangement when circumstances have warranted it, but the most I’ve ever said is that something has come up and it would help with cash flow if we could make a change (either on a one-time basis or as a permanent change). For the record, it has never been an issue.

I know that the Internet makes it much easier for us to share information with people we have never actually met, but that may not mean that everything should be shared. It may be old fashioned, or just a Jodee thing, but I think about whether the person I’m talking to really needs to know how I’m fixed financially if I’m trying to pick up some work quickly.

How much would you reveal to a prospective client and at what point does eager to work just look desperate?


3 responses
  1. Rob Avatar

    I’m always desperate, so I start off by telling clients I need weekly payments. I just leave out the “I’m desperate” part. Those I’ve gotten to know well are always willing to accommodate me if I finish early and ask for immediate payment. I only ask the ones I’m really comfortable with, though.

    1. Carol Avatar

      LMAO, Rob. I’m never desperate…but back when I was, I’d say things like “I have some open time in my schedule right now so I can fit you in.” or “Do you have direct deposit? Isn’t that so much more convenient than writing a check?”

      I’d also pitch the daylights out of existing clients to try to grow the relationship and get more assignments.

      Maybe you’d be less desperate if you asked for 50% up front…or at least 30%…for any copywriting. Been a sure-fire desperation cure for me.

  2. James Tennant Avatar

    I have been in a bit of a dry patch since Christmas! I worry more about how im going to get the payment off my client than how im going to get the job. There are so many people out there that are ignorant, cheap and lousy. They dont pay enough, they want the best possible work for $5 and then when it comes to payment they sneak off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.