By Joe Dyton
Hello, everyone. Sorry I didn’t post the last couple of days. I was buried under assignments, deadlines and writing tests. I’m finally back on solid footing and ready to get back to posting if not daily, at least regularly.
Things got a little out of hand after my search for work on JournalismJobs.com on Wednesday night. I beat myself up a little bit for doing that because I’ve read in a few spots that’s not the best way to go about looking for work, but out of the dozen or so emails I sent out, I got four responses. One was a “we’re really looking for a full-time writer, but we’ll keep your resume on file” reply, but the others were somewhat promising. I received one publication’s writing regulations, so I guess they liked my credentials enough to let me send a query and another said they’re always looking for writers, so there could be a chance for work there.
I know that last paragraph doesn’t explain why my job board search kept me from posting the last two days, but I’m getting there. The fourth response came from a website that invited me to write three (!) sample articles of at least 300 words for them. I’m usually not a big fan of the “Sing for my supper” (my term for writing on spec) application process, but this blog is about my quest to build a freelance writing business and the only way to do that is get clients. So if writing three (!) articles is what I have to do to try to land this client, that’s what I have to do. I got their reply at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning; I had 36 hours to produce three (!) articles that were at least 300 words long. The topics were up to me; the idea was to pick trending topics and they’re going to rate how SEO-friendly they were. Normally, this would be fine, but I was going to be on assignment Thursday night covering a high school basketball game, which is when I would have worked on these articles since I wouldn’t have time during the day because I’m working.
On top of this, I had another article due at the end of this week; so between Thursday at 9 a.m. and the end of the day on Friday, I had to complete the 1,000 word tax story I’d been working all week and write those three (!) spec articles. I would have liked to have completed that tax story on Wednesday night because I had to cover that game on Thursday, but unfortunately some of the people I had to interview weren’t available until Thursday and/or Friday. So between working all day Thursday and covering a game that night, Thursday was shot. I got the idea to work on my tax story (I had to transcribe the phone interviews I had recorded already) when I got home from covering that game, but I didn’t return home until 11 and had to be up five hours later (I go to the gym before work) so I just called a night and said I’d figure it out the next day.
I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry me; guy with a full-time job is trying to juggle some extra freelance work. I’m just telling a story. Anyway, I did figure it out on Friday; I used my lunch break to pick the topics I was going to write about and did my research then. I also conducted my last phone interview for the tax article, so I had everything I needed by time I got home from work on Friday. The spec articles had a harder deadline (9 p.m. EST), so I wrote those first and submitted those. I spent the rest of the evening transcribing those phone interviews; I had a few interruptions throughout the night so I was up until about 2 a.m. finishing that article. Hard Day’s Nights, indeed!
If I could do it all over again, I probably would have asked the website if there was anyway to get an extension on the application. The worst they could have said was no. My focus should have been 100% on the assignment I had been hired to write already. I spread myself a little to thin; normally I’m fine with that if it’s for all paid work, but I shouldn’t have worn myself out for spec work. Of course if I get that job, I might be singing a different tune. Fingers crossed!
Here’s the high school basketball game story I wrote on Thursday night.
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Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Washington, DC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.