In Yo’s last post, she mentioned the ups and downs freelancers face. Today I’m going to share a story that incorporates a bit of both. First, it’s an excellent case of query-free freelancing attracting more than commercial writing clients. On the other hand, it also shows how breaking one of my own rules ended up being a waste of time on a day when when I really couldn’t afford to waste it.
Let’s go back to Wednesday of this week. It was my first day back to work after a 5-day vacation. I started that vacation being hit with a blizzard and had just gotten used to being dug out again when bam! — another blizzard came in on Tuesday night. It snowed all day Wednesday, so I was stuck digging out throughout the day on top of trying to get caught up on client work. It was a busy day — very busy.
Halfway through the day I checked my email. There was something in my inbox from NPR. They wanted me to whip something up quickly that day on a business-related topic. I didn’t pitch them. I didn’t contact them at all. They found me and reached out. And that, folks, is exactly how query-free freelancing works — you make yourself “findable.”
I love NPR. I also have a rule against taking on any spec projects, and I’m not technically taking on new projects from anyone right now. But we all have exceptions to our rules, don’t we? Isn’t there a publication or company you’d practically give a limb to write for? NPR is probably the closest I’ll get to that limb-sacrificing state of mind. It’s the only radio station I listen to.
So anyway, I made an exception to the rule. On a day when I was overloaded on catch-up work post-vacation and being pummelled by a snow storm I had to deal with, I dropped what I was doing and whipped up the piece. Unfortunately the rush job barely left enough time to track down a source and get a quote, nonetheless go into extensive details. And I’m not a news writer, so sudden tight deadlines aren’t my forté. Still, I got it together and sent back by deadline.
In the end they decided not to use the piece, and I was stuck working ridiculously late to make up for the lost time during my work day (never fun). Rejections aren’t as common in query-free freelancing but they still happen, and you still have to be able to handle it gracefully. Disappointing? Sure. Will they come back at some point? Possibly. Would I drop everything and break my typical business rules on spec work again? I honestly don’t know. But still, despite the end rejection it was very nice to see the platform approach do its job not only with the small business and corporate clients who find me and want to work with me, but also with a large media outlet I have a huge amount of respect for.
So there you have it — an example to show you that, yes, query-free freelancing can work with media contacts just like it does with business contacts. Now tell me, what company would you consider breaking your own rules for just for a chance to write for them?