by Rachel Smith
27 April 2018
Running a jobs board leaves you pretty much surrounded ALL THE TIME by freelancers. Those at the start of the game, right through to successful veterans with 20-30 years under their belts.
And I’ve learned a thing or two from some of the more successful freelance writers in my midst.
In particular, some of the strategies they employ to make new connections and keep the work flowing.
The one thing that many of them do is… wait for it… take jobs in-house.
I know – that goes against everything freelancing is all about. In fact, right now, you may be running screaming to your bedroom to hide under the doona, so shocked are you by the prospect of having to get dressed and be somewhere by 9am.
(I’m there with you – not under your doona, because that would be weird, but under my own.)
But actually, taking in-house gigs – short or part-time or ad-hoc or even full-time for a few months – is a very smart move.
Especially if you want to meet the types of people who desperately need you (even if they don’t realise it until they actually MEET you in person).
I often hear stories from freelances who’ve done in-house stints and scored writing commissions and retainer gigs. Or, they’ve been invited to interview for other jobs – simply by being in the right place at the right time.
John Burfitt, who regularly consults to a number of media organisations around Sydney, is one of them.
‘Sometimes I land work just by being in the elevator,” he says. “You’re bumping into old contacts you haven’t seen in ages, and often the first thing out of their mouth is, ‘Hello! Funny seeing you here – I’m actually looking for a writer! What are you up to these days?'”
He believes it all comes down to the basics of relationship marketing – something that’s begun to slip away in the social media age. “By being physically present, you’re suddenly front of mind. I’ve picked up loads of work off the back of in-house contracts. And I never regret taking on a contract job for any of my clients.”
I know many successful freelance writers who’ve done the same thing.
One person hired for some freelance editing is now in line for an amazing full-time role she might not have gotten short-listed for had she not been in the building at the right time.
And another freelance friend of mine I went walking with a few weeks ago told me about a couple of desirable retainers she’d snapped up – just by being on the ground at a major publishing house and simply chatting to people. “Being in-house is really how I’ve gotten those things,” she told me.
This isn’t something I do personally – it used to be, when I was freelancing full-time. But then I had a kid. Moved to part-time work. Started working more on Rachel’s List and trying to juggle my own clients as well. Taking in-house contracts hasn’t been feasible.
But it’s something I will definitely be looking at doing when I move back to more full-time freelancing. Because clearly, being a bum-on-a-seat for a few days or weeks, could be a golden opportunity to reconnect with old clients, find new ones – AND pick up ongoing work you might not otherwise have known about.
Do you find going in-house has helped you pick up unexpected work? Or is this something you’re thinking about doing to increase your income streams?
Photo by Jessica Sysengrath on Unsplash