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What about all those online job sites?
A recent freelancer bemoaned the many inadequate job sites for writers. She's right — there are problems. People who are freelancers need to know that this is one of the most, if not THE most, free-market career fields you can choose. You are constantly dealing with new clients who will want to hire you (if they want to hire you ) at the lowest possible fee. You, on the other hand, want to receive the best pay possible.
The answer is to learn to sort out the jobs that might fit and to learn to be a good negotiator and offer value for your services. The closer you can come to what they need — assuming they are not some fly-by-night company — the higher the probability that you will receive the amount that YOU need.
One great place to find new clients is through internet job sites. For example, Writers-Editors network has an excellent "Bulletin Board" where jobs that have been pre-filtered are posted most every day.
Even the best sites list some terrible jobs and unreasonable clients. The people who run the job sites can't screen them to the level that some writers might wish. Instead, it's our job as freelance writers to sort it all out. We need to qualify whether clients are serious and whether they know what they really want and, very important, if they can afford to pay us what we need to receive.
You can also find terrible jobs in the classified ads of major and minor newspapers nationwide. If you want a local job, you look in your local paper and you don't assume that the editor personally checked out each advertiser. Conversely, if you are a freelance writer, you are nearly unrestricted. You can write for a client in New York, another in Florida, and another in the United Kingdom. Your boundaries are what you and your clients make them.
Sure, some sites are duds; but others have netted some Big Bucks for me. You can't wear blinders; you should be very careful. But there is definitely money to be made out there. Just make sure that if you decide to work with someone you found on a job site, you get it in writing. Whenever possible, get money up front. Check out the client with other writers and search the web to see if anyone has ever written about them or their company. These are a few easy actions to protect yourself.
I was already a successful freelance writer, but my earnings rose dramatically after I began searching job sites and taking on clients netted from online job sites. I am very glad that they exist.
Contributed by Christine Adamec, MBA
author of Writing Freelance (Self-Counsel Press, 2000)