My Thrifty Mommy co-blogger Karen and I were chatting recently about a common freelance blogger (and writer) issue – not having time to look for work. It’s frustrating because if you currently have full time work writing you don’t have free time to look for new gigs. Yet for most freelance bloggers it’s important to take the time to job search. Why?
- Blogging doesn’t always pay great and so you need the time to look for new higher paying gigs.
- Freelancing is iffy. You may be making a ton of income today but blogs close down, clients come and go, and you could be out of a job tomorrow.
- Job searching on an ongoing basis makes you a more efficient job hunter. If I check the job boards daily I know which boards are actually still viable, I know what gigs are out there, I can keep track of current pay rates, and I get a repetitive system going that makes me a faster job browser.
- You can help your pals. Even if you have more work than you can handle, you may see a job that’s perfect for your pal and you can shoot it off to her. Later if a slow gig time crops up for you, your pal may return the favor.
BUT I literally have NO time to search…
I’ve been there. That whole feast or famine deal you hear about in freelancing – it’s not a joke. Last year at this time I had quit a lame job, had a client end a site, and another site I work for cut pay, and thus, I was down to the dreaded not enough jobs on my plate. I looked for months – (really, months) before I found a new great gig and seriously overnight I doubled my income. That’s crazy and frustrating. Right now I’m making a good income, but I’m well aware that shifts happen and next week I could need to score a new gig.
That said, part of the reason why I’m making a good income is because I’m working full time + so technically I don’t have the time to look for new jobs right now, not without cutting into work or free time.
WHAT TO DO!?
Work job searches into your freelance budget and schedule. As a freelancer part of your job is to find jobs. Looking for work should be a fixed task on your writing schedule, just like posting, research and networking. Job hunting should never come off your schedule.
Embrace social media as a job search tool. If you’re a blogger, you’re already involved in social media so use it.
Make it easy. Bookmarks and feeds are your friend. Keep your bookmarks and feeds clean, neat, and chuck any writing job boards that return nothing but lame low-paying gigs over and over because that’s a time waster. If you keep things tidy you can keep your daily job search down to 30 minutes flat.
Set up an emergency fund. SO much easier said than done, but it’s still a smart thing to do. Three months worth of living expenses socked away is optimal, but the more the merrier as the saying goes. If that seems like a lot, try super hard to at least get a months worth of living expense saved – one month is usually enough time to find at least a couple of gigs.
Tag team the boards. If you have a writer friend you trust then set up a tag team system. Each of you can job hunt on alternate days and shoot the other person gigs that look good. If you don’t have a writer friend you trust in this capacity, I’d get some new friends. I’m not afraid to send my good friends an awesome job posting (even if I’m applying) because my friends have done the same for me and what goes around comes around. As a blogger or writer one of the smartest things you can do is overcome the competition issue with your pals.
Drop a low payer. It’s better to drop one low-paying gig and use that time to look for new gigs then it is to slave at a lame low paying job. It makes better financial sense. Time is absolutely money.
Use passive job search techniques. Getting your business card and name out there is not totally passive, but once your cards and name are out there they work endlessly for you. Give everyone your business card and tell people you write! I can’t tell you how many gigs I’ve scored simply because I opened my mouth and said, “I write for a living.” People need writers. If you’re the only writer someone knows, guess who will get the gig when said person needs a blogger or some other sort of writing. Your personal blog or website is another form of passive searching. While I don’t have a professional writer website, I do have blogs and I’ve gotten gigs just because someone came across my blog, liked me, and emailed me about work they needed done. Make sure you have an easy to find contact page at your blog or website.
Write great posts for PR people. If a PR person sends you a good lead and you write an awesome post for them you make connections with them and the company they represent which can turn into job leads when that company needs a new writer. Companies love when people make them look good – don’t be fake, but also don’t write shoddy posts when you get news lead.
Apply once in a while. It won’t kill you to apply for a new gig, even if you have zero time to spare on your work schedule. You may score a higher payer and be able to drop a low payer which helps you save for that emergency fund I mentioned above.
How do you make the time to hunt for gigs when your schedule is already full?
Kiesha @ Highly Favored says
Sometimes you do have to cut low payers and time wasters. I evaluate how I spend my free time – I try not to watch too much TV, that way I’ll have time to browse around or make connections in the real world.
Cheril Vernon says
This post targets me perfectly. I do make the time to come here to Freelance Writing Gigs daily for the articles and job gigs. Right now I just surf through the gigs to see what is out there because I have a full plate. But you are right, we have to keep looking because you never know what will happen and when. And I would hate that I didn’t check and missed out on a great opportunity.
Marcia Frost says
Very good ideas. I actually chart my days monthly, with the steady work (like my blog, Examiner columns and Demand Studios) permanently in and I fill in the rest of the boxes with work I don’t do as often. I also make sure to leave one box a week to check out possible new opportunities, which includes a read through of this site!
.-= Marcia Frost´s last blog ..Melting Pot for Comfort Food (and Drinks) =-.
Jennifer L says
Thanks for the great post…and the reminder. Like Cheril wrote, this targets me perfectly, too.
.-= Jennifer L´s last blog ..More snow… =-.
Trina L. Grant says
I like these ideas for ‘keeping yourself in the loop’. It is important to be continuously garnering new clients and prospects. These tips highlight some apsects that might be overlooked. Good insight.