Sometimes finding new, well paid writing work is simply a matter of listening for opportunities and speaking up.
Here’s what I mean:
When I got my first computer, an Apple II+, I was hysterical trying to get it to work. You think computer documentation is bad now? Once I was fairly competent I recognized the difficulty I had was probably fairly universal and went to a computer conference. I literally walked from booth-to-booth handing out my business card and saying something like “if you can help me understand how this thing works I can write a manual for you that non-computer types will understand.” Two or three weeks later I got a call from one of the people I’d talked with and they ended up hiring me to do a computer manual.
I parlayed that into several other tech writing jobs and ended up doing first computer documentation then computer magazine editing for Kaypro.
One day a young literary agent stuck his head in (yes, this is true) asking who could write 3rd party and software manuals for him. I said I could and put together a team of three hardware and software folks – we ended up writing three manuals for that agent, with decent advances on each.
I was in and out of tech writing for years and that knowledge allowed me to become one of Match.com’s first thirty or so employees – they hired me to write.
Over 25 years ago (how can it be that long?) I was editing a magazine for a semi-famous metaphysical leader. I knew she had signed with a publisher and they had given her a ghostwriter; I was surprised when she flew into my office one day and asked me if I could take over the book. She felt that the ghost the publisher had hired wasn’t ‘getting’ who she was and kept arguing with her about some of her beliefs. Although I’d never written anything longer than maybe 5,000 words, I said ‘yes.’ The book became a bestseller and also launched me as a ghostwriter.
This morning I drafted a non-disclosure agreement for an up and coming website developer. I like what he does and I like his approach; I also recognized he was swamped and just asked him if he’d consider hiring me as some sort of content manager. No clue if this will turn out to be interesting and lucrative enough; time will tell.
Of course I could also tell you about the times I’ve suggested some writing and I’ve been turned down, or even the times I’ve been offered a gig out of the blue and said no for one reason or another. Yes, both of those happen with fair regularity too.
Getting hired or not, however, is not the real point here. My hunch if you pay attention over the next two or three weeks you’ll find at least one potential writing opportunity. When you do try speaking up and offering your services., You may land just the gig you’ve been looking for.
Have you ever had someone contact you for writing seemingly out of the blue? Have you ever seen a writing opportunity and hesitated to suggest they consider hiring you to do the work? What suggestions or advice do you have on surprise writing opportunities?
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