By Lori Widmer
So you sit there every day waiting for work to appear, but nothing. The projects you had are finished and work seems to have dried up. You’re searching, but in those same, dried-up spots on the Internet. Well, I’m here to tell you you’re doing nothing wrong. That’s right – the nothing you’re doing is wrong. You’re going about it the same way and it’s not working. So that’s equal to doing nothing. And it’s wrong. Get it?
We’ve all fallen into that trap, too. We figure we scored that great gig on one of our regular haunts where we were somehow lucky enough to outshine the thousands of other writers worldwide (you’re not just competing with those in the lower 48 anymore). But the jobs there these days just don’t look like jobs, nor do they ask for your type of expertise. Or worse, they simply don’t pay enough to make it worth your trouble. Funny how that great pipeline can dry up in just a month, isn’t it?
So mix it up. Instead of sitting there doing nothing, choose a new activity to drum up business. Try these:
- Paper queries. Remember those paper queries you used to write before computers and the Internet happened? Try writing one or two to prospective clients or magazine editors.
- Search a market guide. It used to be guides like Writer’s Market were essential to our livelihood. Do you even own one? If not, sign up online (I’m pragmatic enough to know you’re not going to drive to the bookstore right now).
- Send prospective clients some mail. Even Word allows you to put together a brochure, sales letter, or mailer. Put one together, go to VistaPrint and upload it, then send it out when you get the final version.
- Attend meetings and conferences. I know writers who have attended one conference and worked solidly throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to travel to connect to your potential clients.
If you choose a meeting, start with the Chamber of Commerce or some other business function in your area. Join. Attend. Meet business people. Keep in front of what could be a lucrative client base.
If you’re sending out mailers or correspondence, whom should you target? Here are a few places to look:
- Print shops. They get a lot of requests for writers (it helps if you’re using the print shop to print your brochure or mailer). Tailor that sales letter to show you know they’re not buying your services directly. Put a little effort into courting them.
- Mid-sized businesses. You have a lot to offer them–newsletter writing, client letters, sales brochures, company employee communications pieces …. you see where it’s going.
- Ad /Marketing agencies. With summer coming, plenty of vacations will interrupt workflow at the agencies. Introduce yourself now, follow up with a phone/face-to-face conversation, and remind them every six weeks that you’re there should they need help.
- Conference exhibitors, speakers, and attendees. Choose an event in advance, research the attendees or presenters, then let them know you’ll be there. There are other opportunities here, too. You should be letting the exhibitors or speakers know you’re available to help them get their conference materials in order.
- Associations. This is my new favorite place to find work. Associations have communications needs, but don’t always have a dedicated staff to pull it off. Introduce yourself with a brochure, letter of introduction, and an offer to help with any small-to-large projects. I’ve written everything from e-newsletters to ghostwritten articles for associations.
There are any number of things you can do to get your name in front of someone who might just need your help. Don’t be afraid to leave behind what you thought were tried-and-true work avenues. These job sites dry up faster than a desert oasis in drought season. To survive, you have to head for a different water source. Just do yourself and your career a favor – don’t continue doing nothing, for you get out of your career what you put into it.
Lori Widmer has attended numerous conferences, local business meetings, and is friendly with her printer and marketing groups. She blogs about all things writing at Words on the Page
Image from http://www.sxc.hu