In this episode, Tara gives practical tips on how freelancers can build stellar writing portfolios and getting good jobs.
She talks about;
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Name: Tara Struyk
What Tara Does: VP of Content at Janalta
Noteworthy: Tara is a writer and editor with several years of experience in online media. She specializes in writing about personal finance, real estate, and health and wellness.
Connect with Tara;
Finding Your Niche
Tara shares the importance of focusing on a niche when building a portfolio for better job opportunities. She suggests that having a scattered portfolio makes it harder for potential employers to identify a writer’s expertise.
Instead, she recommends selecting a niche based on personal interest or past success, highlighting the need for writers to enjoy the topics they choose. Moreover, she advises leveraging existing contacts and connections in a chosen niche, indicating that familiarity can provide a strategic advantage when seeking opportunities.
Consistency and Reliability in Freelance Work
Drawing from her extensive experience working with freelance writers, Tara underscores the importance of reliability and accountability in the freelancing industry. She highlights how many aspiring freelancers falter due to a lack of discipline, failure to follow guidelines, and subpar work quality. Tara talks about the significance of delivering high-quality work consistently, adhering to guidelines, and striving for continual improvement.
She acknowledges the challenges freelancers face in maintaining accountability but stresses its critical role in building long-term relationships and credibility in the industry. Tara advises freelancers to approach each assignment with professionalism and dedication, as these qualities are essential for success in a competitive freelancing landscape.
Creating an Effective Online Portfolio
Tara delves into the importance of creating an online portfolio and provides an extensive overview of various platforms. She highlights the significance of a professional online presence, offering insights into platforms like Contently, Muck Rack, Medium, Wix, and WordPress.
Tara discusses the pros and cons of each platform, considering factors like simplicity, customizability, and control over content. Furthermore, she stresses the role of an online portfolio in showcasing skills, attracting desired work, and establishing professionalism.
Building a Targeted Publication List
Tara suggests starting by compiling a list of publications that align with your interests and expertise. She emphasizes the importance of identifying which publications have relevant content and potential opportunities for you. To do this, you can utilize various tools to find out who the editors are and whether they are hiring.
Tara compares this process to sales, where consistency and persistence are key. By maintaining a list of 100 publications, you can set achievable goals for reaching out to a certain number of them each month. Additionally, connecting with other writers in your niche can provide valuable insights and networking opportunities.
Tara recommends using platforms like LinkedIn, joining relevant groups, and leveraging email introductions to connect with editors. While cold calling may seem daunting, she encourages genuine outreach efforts and suggests finding common ground to establish connections effectively.
Tara Struyk 0:07
Okay, so I think we’ve given everybody a chance to kind of get started here, smaller group, but I think we’ve got probably everybody we’re going to have today. So, Hello, good afternoon. Good morning. Welcome.
Second last class, so super exciting, we’re getting to the end. And today, we’re kind of starting to cap it off a little more talking about portfolio building and getting good or better jobs. This is something I have done, although for quite a few years, I’ve definitely been on the editor side of this, or I can speak to both sides a little bit. So today, we’ll run through some tips and ideas on how to do that. And hopefully, everyone will have some questions at the end, we can talk that through.
All right, so here we go. Um, so we’ll start with finding your niche. So the first kind of step, I think, to getting those better jobs is getting all your clips and all your samples kind of more into one area, or the area that you’re most interested in, or the area that you want to be working in, what I see sometimes is people have a portfolio that’s just like all over the place.
And then for someone who’s looking to hire them, for the editor, it’s a little bit harder to say, you know, this person is a good fit for my publication, this area, because they’re not really focused there. And I think the other advantage to focusing there as you can kind of learn that area more, you can learn the sources there.
And kind of set up a good network there over time. So, you know, it’s not something you can necessarily do overnight. But, you know, the whole discussion today is not just going to be like, turn the whole ship, you know, right away and change everything. It’s like nudging yourself in that direction. Over time by sort of making conscious decisions in that direction.
On slide. So first, is pick something that interests you. So, I mean, you might not have a deep level of expertise in any of the areas that you’re interested in. But if you at least start with an interest you can get there you can learn. If you hate a topic area, it really does not matter how profitable it is, or how much work there is, it’s going to be really hard to have the motivation to continue to work on that, especially over, you know, years, which is what it what it’s going to take to really build the portfolio that you want.
If you have some background in the area like you will, finance right. Sorry, I’m getting somebody’s mic there. If you have some background in the area, that’s my excuse me helpful and getting you started. But I don’t think it’s necessary. Unless we’re talking like medical writing or something like that, then writers are probably going to need to have some significant education there. Is there a topic you really enjoy writing about?
Do you have topic areas where you’ve already had some success? So that might be a place to look? Can you think beyond the topic itself to get to the human side of it? I think that’s one thing where some of these topic areas are more interesting than you think in and people aren’t sort of probing deep enough. For quite a few years I wrote about finance. And, you know, that’s one where people think like, it’s boring.
It’s all numbers and financial statements. But on the personal side of things, it’s actually pretty interesting, because I think, you know, a lot of people know they should save money, you know, they should invest. No, they should have a budget, but they don’t. So I think there’s a psychological side of that, too. And getting more into the human side of why people do what they do. I found really interesting.
So I think some of these areas too, you can look a lot deeper. And then another place to look is if you have friends or colleagues or sources or other contacts in a particular area, maybe that’s a place where you can, you know, get your foot in the door, get a toehold. So that can be a place to look to so look for places where you have interest, but also places where you might have some advantages that you can leverage. So maybe the best publication you’ve written for is in a certain area. And they like your work and you can keep writing there.
Well, maybe there’s other competitors other publications in that same area that you can get more, and then you are sort of you’re sort of building your niche. I mean, sometimes a niche can be very deliberate. And sometimes we just kind of fall into it. I think either one can be totally fine. Just kind of being aware of the direction that you’re moving in and being intentional about, like, Hey, I’m getting a lot of work in this area, I’m going to keep moving in this direction, I think it’s going to work for me, the next thing you want to do is make, keep and leverage your contacts.
So professional relationships can last forever, like really forever. Some of the people that I worked with, even right when I started, writers that I worked with the best ones, I still remember them. And if I have a project that happens to be in that subject area, those are the first people that come to mind. So when you connect with people just keep that in mind, like when you make that contact, when you work with that person. For form a real relationship beyond just like, you know, I give you content, you give me money.
And try to try to keep that because years down the road, you could end up working together again. And if you make a good impression, it’s almost likely. So add them on LinkedIn, follow up with them or comment on their posts to keep the connection. For the context that I have that, you know, I really like, I definitely will try to send them a note on LinkedIn once in a while or give them a thumbs up when I see they got a new job, congratulate them something like that, just like you know, keep them in your keep them close to you.
And keep an eye on what they’re doing. And just be intentional about that. I also recommend managing contacts that are related to your writing. So look for put your contacts into a spreadsheet or a CRM, so you can reach out to them in the future. There are a few free CRMs out there. You could also use a spreadsheet, but I recommend, I recommend doing that. And just keeping those close that that goes for sources too. And we’ve talked about that, if you’re building that, that database of people in in the space where you want to work that can be really helpful to you in the future. And then again, look for ways to reconnect with people. Next one is clips.
So I don’t know if they call them clips anymore. I graduated quite a long time ago at this point and went to journalism school. And at that time, people still read physical newspapers more than they do now. And, you know, we were taught as students to cut out our, like clips for our portfolio. So anything published in a newspaper or magazine. Now, portfolios are mostly online. But it still holds true, you want to keep your best work, and have it available for people to read. So far, find opportunities to write in your niche. And we’ll talk more about that later.
But for the best sites that you can build that online portfolio so that when you go out to apply for jobs, you have something there and say, here’s what I’ve can say, here’s what I’ve done, here’s where I’ve published, here’s where you can read my work. And then write strategically in a way that kind of advances your career. And you can either even ask editors for information around the performance of your content, some people are happy to provide that in terms of in terms of how it’s performing.
And then that’s something you can kind of use in the future, and then build your social media online presence. And this is one that’s harder for me. Personally, I mean, I’m a private person. So it’s, it’s harder for me to like, put myself out there and do a lot of talking online. I mean, I don’t, when I’m in a room with people, I’m usually not the one who’s doing a lot of talking either. But when I’m trying to make a move in my career, I will try to spend more time here polish the profiles that I have polish my online presence.
Definitely google yourself and see what that looks like. You want to you 100% Anyone hiring you will do this. So you’re gonna want to see what they’re seeing. And make sure that that’s kind of the way you want to present yourself. As long as you don’t have anything kind of really terrible about yourself on Google. I’m sure you don’t you can have some control over that by having a strong social media profile, strong LinkedIn that’s going to come up and a portfolio. So if you have an I have a few ideas for portfolios, but if you have these setup unless a lot of people have the same name, you’re likely to be able to come up on Google and people can kind of see you for who you are.
Tara Struyk 10:04
So a few reasons to build an online portfolio. If you haven’t already, it’s pretty easy to do. There’s lots of free services that will let you do this, there’s a lot of different ways to do it. But people will Google you, it’s easy to share and keep up to date. So anytime you create new content, you can just add that there, highlight that there. It’s easy to have on your social media profiles on any kind of like resume to send to people when you’re applying to jobs as a link. It’s just an easy way to show your skills and, and some of the work that you’ve done.
And it can help you attract the kind of work that you want. It also just shows a higher level of professionalism. If you’re serious enough to build yourself a professional website, have a, have a photo of yourself, have your work, have your skills, people can see that you’re serious about being a writer about these kinds of jobs. And I think that will help you move forward.
And it helps people get to know you too. I mean, especially online, we don’t get to talk to each other. You may never I mean, I’ve a lot of writers that I’ve worked with. I’ve maybe had a call or two. But mostly we’ve just talked online. So for that first touch point, I’m not going to probably have an in person interview. At the beginning, if we’re just hiring for a small project, that kind of gives me a sense of who that person is. And and that can be really helpful and help set them apart from other people where I don’t get that sense of them.
So I pulled together a few options. I think someone had asked me about online portfolios, maybe Itoro, I think it’s a good question. There’s a lot of options out there. And it’s nice to know what’s available. So I just pulled together a few that I’ve seen people use frequently, that I’ve used. So the first one is constantly and these are all free. So that’s nice.
I mean, they’re certainly paid ones, but I don’t think there’s necessarily a lot of benefit. So we’ll run through the ones that are available and free. So constantly, simple, single page portfolio show highlighted work and skills, it’s free. It advertises it can match freelancers, with brands for work. I’ve never really heard of anyone using it that way. But I could be wrong. And I’ve certainly gotten a lot of contently links as applications, I think it’s nice and simple, you get a profile, you get link links to your social media, you get links to your content.
So underneath this profile party, you’ll see a bunch of links to your content, it’s easy to set up professional, so I think it does the job and you have a reasonable amount of control because you you load your own clips in here, I believe. So that’s a plus. The next one is muck rack, it’s free. And you can be verified, go in and get verified and like be able to adjust your own profile like this. But you don’t have control over the content that gets pulled in like it’s, it’s like a feed, and it’s automatically just gonna pull in any content written by you.
So that might be fine. But if you’re maybe just starting out, and you really want to have control over ensuring that the really best quality content shows there, or maybe if you don’t have a lot of published content, and I’m not sure if it’ll pull from really small blogs, then it might not work for you. So it’s worth exploring. And it certainly, you know, a lot of people are on there. And it’s, it’s a good way to kind of look at someone’s larger portfolio. But if you don’t have that larger portfolio, or there are there’s work out there that you maybe wouldn’t want people to see.
And that certainly can be true when you’re just starting out and you know, you’ve written some things that you’re no longer proud of, or publications that you no longer want people to see then maybe this isn’t the best one right? You can highlight some of these other options. You can choose what goes there and you can highlight your best work medium. So also can be used for free. It’s an option.
I think it can be a good option for somebody who doesn’t have much published work because you can publish your own work. So if you want to write saying the technology niche, you can write about technology on medium and use that as evidence of your ability To do that, so, and I’ve definitely had people do that they have a good portfolio on medium.
Yeah, I mean, it didn’t, it’s not the same kind of publication, as you know, publishing through a, through a website with an editor and all that, but it looks professional. And if the work is good, I certainly wouldn’t discount it, it’s a good place to start out, you can improve, or you can prove your ability to build readership there. And the downside is that you can’t post publish content. So it’s not the kind of portfolio where you can show content written on other sites, because that’s going to be copyrighted, and you can’t copy it over to medium.
So this would be a place where you can blog. And you can create your own clips, if you don’t have any, or don’t have any that you’re proud of in any area where you want to work. So it just depends on how you want to do it. And it’s easy to fire up, like, unlike creating your own website, you know, you fire up your profile, and everything’s kind of there for you, which is nice, it makes it it makes it simpler. Next one’s Wix. So basic free portfolio site can be created on a Wix domain, it’s fully customizable.
So you can have blogs, you can have, you know, your resume, you can have a portfolio, you can make it look kind of, however you want, within reason, kind of within what fits into the templates that they have. The downside is that you’re gonna have to build it all yourself. So if you really don’t have skills there, that’s, that could be pretty difficult. I think it’s getting easier and easier to build these things with the tools that these sites have. And, you know, you don’t need to know how to code, they’re trying to make it pretty easy.
But it’s still, you know, it’s going to be work to make it look good to make it look professional. So that’s an option, but you want to be aware of that. And then, again, WordPress, you can set up a free site here as well, customizable. You can have whatever you want on there. But you have to build and design it yourself. You know, and I didn’t put pictures on these two, because really, it’s a website, like you can make a WordPress site look, however you want, that’s an advantage, it’s also a disadvantage, because you have to figure out how you want it to look.
And even just sort of finding the theme and figuring out what you’re going to do can be significant. So definitely not a bad idea. It’s just it can be it can be more difficult. So you really have to have a strong sense of what you want, what you’re going to have on there. I think sometimes, when you’re starting out, you know, maybe you don’t have enough content to put there unless you’re really going to be committed to to blogging on that page. So if you have a medium and you have a couple of blogs, that might look better than having a whole website with one blog on it, right.
So you just kind of got to think about what what you what your bandwidth is what you’re willing to do, and what the best option for you might be. And at some people have more than one I mean, a lot of people have, have a constantly Muckrack sometimes if you have enough, publish content online like it, it will load you in there automatically. So you’ll have that. And then have a website as well.
So you can certainly build more as you grow your business. Okay, so we’ll talk a little bit more, some tips on getting good and better jobs. I know, that’s what everybody wants. So I will tell you what I know on that. And things you can do. Like right now. You know, getting those good jobs is not something that’s going to happen overnight. It’s it takes work, it’s going to take time.
But I think the key is to know where you’re going to be focused on that and to make progress. So that means writing for better sites over time improving your portfolio, growing your list of connections, and getting paid more for your work. You know, everybody starts like this, I mean, all freelance writers, you kind of have to climb the ladder. So you kind of just need to be kind to yourself, take it one step at a time. And these are some of the things that will help you.
So joining community groups in your chosen niche or field following quality job posts and boards combined compiling lists of sites you want to write for and their competitors. So having you know those goals in mind, like what is like the site, you want to wait for some day and then kind of backing out from there and we’ll look at that. Making connections with editors doing your best work every time. That’s a big one. We’ll talk about that. And then just Keep kind of moving forward, right? This is a long term process.
Tara Struyk 20:05
So joining community groups, communities and online groups are just such a good place to be. I mean, even you know, in, if you are working for an organisation, it’s just, there’s not a lot of places where you can be in a group with a lot of other professionals in the same field, unless you’re going to a conference or something like that. That can be great. But, you know, community groups are available sort of every day. So it’s something a little bit more accessible. It’s a really good place to meet other people and make connections.
And it’s a really good place to find out about jobs and events and opportunities that could help you. So really recommend, have a few suggestions. These are a few that I know of, but there’s certainly a lot more, I think the first one and the obvious one is FCDC. You can’t discount how valuable that community is, you’ve got this range of people, people who are just starting in their career, who need help.
And then people who’ve kind of surpassed that stage. And I see some people who are really succeeding in the message boards and getting some of those opportunities, the advantage there is that they’re in your community they’ve been where you’ve been, or where you are. And I think they’re going to be a lot more willing to provide help provide suggestions than just someone you know, random. So really leverage that community, stay engaged with it, stay on those boards, talk to people ask questions, get to know people.
I mean, I saw, there’s some meetups that are happening, like if those are nearby, go to them. I think the value of that is just huge. And I’m sure that’s part of the reason or a large part of the reason that community exists is that, you know, these communities are there for people to help each other in a professional way. So stay engaged with that one. If you’re into the SEO side, and there’s also quite a few content marketers. Also, if you’re a woman, it’s women in tech SEO. So sorry, guys, that kind of leaves you out. But it’s a very good community.
And I’m sure there are some other good SEO communities, for men as well. Content Strategy Collective is a really good one. Again, another slack group. So good place to ask questions about content strategy. I’ve gotten lots of good suggestions from other people, super path content marketing community, and other similar one, again, like great place to ask questions, and just to see what other discussions are happening, you can learn so much from other people, by just seeing someone lay out the problem they’re having, seeing other people provide answers and suggestions.
And then there’s a couple of good Reddit threads. Right, it’s good. There’s a lot of really knowledgeable people, I think the benefit of the slack groups, though, is that people are on there with their real identity and, and photo and stuff. So for professional networking, it’s a little bit better, because you can actually meet someone there, add them on LinkedIn, like bring them into your network on Reddit, or someone’s just using, you know, some handle, you don’t know who they are, it’s a little bit harder, but they do, there is some good discussion and information there.
So I think they’re still worth following. And there are certainly more than that. So there’s probably other ones that are more niche that you can look into as well. And if you’re looking for other ones, the ones that you’re in is are a good place to ask for other ones as well. So even in FCDC, like I’m looking for a really good community for copywriters or whatever, like people will have suggestions for that. So you can use use the communities, you have to find other ones that are a good fit for you.
But it’s definitely great to belong to a few and make a point of engaging in there regularly to to learn in and meet people. And you’ll also learn about, you know, events, conferences, like webinars, whatever things that you can attend for, for education sake. So it’s just it’s super helpful on a lot of levels. And then you want to kind of keep an eye on quality job posts, job boards. So these are not all inclusive, but these are some that I’ve heard from or used or no and I’ve put links in here. Again, if you’re looking for other One.
So you’re looking for some in specific niches, asking within those communities that you’re in can help like, I’m looking for jobs in this area, does anyone know of any job boards, or Has anyone been really successful on certain job boards that they could recommend? When I’m writing in this space, and there are probably some there, and I know a lot of you are on Upwork, it can get a bad rap.
But there are good jobs there too. And I think one of the advantages to Upwork is that oftentimes, people, companies are going in there for something very small, you know, they want a very small piece of coffee. But if you can build that relationship and do a really good job, it’s definitely possible to get real work from that or like a real job or a real part time job. In my experience, we’ve hired a lot of people like that started out sort of low risk on Upwork, hiring for something small, and then the people who were really great ended up, you know, they just never left, we kept on hiring them for more and more things.
And that’s really what happens with a lot of freelancers is if you can really be that really quality worker, that person who always comes through, we’ll talk about that a bit more. But Upwork can be the place where you’re where you can get that foot in the door, right, because you can get that small job and kind of show that you can be that that person. That’s the advantage. Whereas some of the other job boards, maybe it’s already a bigger job. If you don’t already have the experience, it might be harder to get still worth a try. But that’s kind of the advantage there.
And then we talked about kind of setting up a list of who you want to write for. So what you can do is, this is kind of like dating, right? If you don’t know where you’re trying to connect with, what qualities you’re looking for, you’re probably going to come home with a loser. So you kind of need to think about the site you want to write for in the same way. So think about what’s that like Pinnacle sight that you really want to write for. And maybe that isn’t an option yet, that’s not on your radar. But you want to work your way towards that.
And kind of like back your way out from that. So I kind of made this example, let’s say I want to write an SEO. And I really want to write for sem rush. That’s one of the big sites in SEO, probably one that drives one of the most one of the one of the ones, if not the one that drives the most traffic around some of these topics. So how can I figure out if I don’t know if sem rush will hire me at this point? Or I don’t really have the experience to apply at sem rush? What can I how can I sort of back this out.
So I could put the site into SEMrush, ironically, and see all the competitors sites, and it’ll pull a huge list, right? Because these are all the sites that are going to compete with it for organic traffic. So some of them are going to be kind of junk. But if you sort through, there’s going to be a lot of interesting sites there about SEO that write about SEO, big and small. So you can kind of filter down to some of these smaller sites that you can get kind of experience and the publications or the clips that you need for your portfolio, and work your way towards that bigger site.
So that’s one way to do it, you can look at other sites that sem rush authors write for. So you can scroll through sem rush and see, okay, this person, this person, this person, they’re doing a lot of writing here. So I’m going to google them, and I’m going to see what other sites they write for, and kind of start going through their portfolios.
Maybe you can figure out some of the sites that gave them some of their first clips, right? Because if you go and look, if you’re if you get the ability to go and sort of scan down someone’s portfolio, probably they’re gonna have their latest. Their latest publish publish pieces might be for some of the better sites, but when you wait down a few years, okay, they’re writing for some smaller sites and smaller blogs, as well. Right? Everybody kind of goes through that process. So what are those sites? Are those some that you could approach?
Other sites that are buying the same branded keyword? So that could be one like if you search SEMrush? Are there other sites buying that keyword that are smaller competitors that you could try? And also sites that link to them something you can see in SEMrush? Again, probably smaller competitors. And what you want to do is kind of come up with a list here.
Tara Struyk 29:58
I Just start figuring out which ones you which ones have content, which ones might be an option for you. And you can even start kind of reaching out or seeing if they’re posting jobs on their site. But there’s some, there’s some tools you can use if you want to make that list and start figuring out who the editors are, who the hiring editors are there, and just start seeing if you can, if you can connect.
But I recommend that list and it can, it can be kind of like a way to motivate yourself, you know, you’ve got a list of 100 publications. And it’s kind of like sales, like in sales, they say, you know, you need 100 rejections a day or something like that. And that proves that you’re doing a good job that proves that you’re doing your legwork. I think sometimes starting out can be that way, right?
You’ve got 100 sites, and you’re going to try to connect with, you know, 10 of them a month or five of them a month. So just find those editors and, and connect with them and see if they have opportunities or look on their site. And just do that legwork to, to make those connections. And then also, you’re just getting acquainted with the space who the writers are. Those could be good connections, like, can you reach out to them and kind of see if they have any advice, are they on any of the groups or boards that you’re active on.
This is how you kind of like get into that space. So in this case, SEO, and get into understanding who the players are and getting familiar with that. And that’s going to help you move forward. And then as I was saying, connect with editors. So you can do that on LinkedIn, you can do that in a group. Email intros are worth a try. So rocket reach is actually a good way to get people’s emails. So if you’ve got that list of publications, you can go into rocket reach and find emails of people who work there.
I’ve done this when I want to, when I’ve done sort of like backlinking, and guest posting projects. So here’s my list of publications, get the editors and just start going through and trying to connect. It can be kind of scary to reach out to people and honestly like, this is cold calling is not necessarily easy. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reaching out if the outreach is general is genuine.
And I think one of the things you can do is just try to find a connection when you reach out. So if you’re in a group with them, if you have some connection, even just, you know, if I reach out to someone and say, you know, hey, I noticed that you’ve really made this change on the site. And I think it’s really good, like something that shows that it’s not just, you’re not just there to bother them like you really are paying attention. I think that can really help. So I think it’s, it’s a, it’s a good idea to just reach out and try to make those connections.
And then of course, leave a positive impression. And then the kind of last piece that I have here is to be do your best be the best every time that you submit work. I’ve hired a lot of freelance writers. This has basically been my whole career since 2005. I’ve done it for probably a dozen sites. And I can tell you that many people who want to be freelancers are not that disciplined, they don’t come through and they say they will, they don’t read the guidelines we give them they rush through the writing and something in at the last minute, that is the norm.
And so the writers I remember the ones I go back to the ones I maintain relationships with, and the ones that I’ve seen sort of grow their career over time, which is cool. are the ones who are just rock solid, reliable and accountable every single time. They have an assignment, so they take the time to do the best job. They read the guidelines, they aim to improve their work. Being this kind of person is not easy.
But especially in freelancing where it’s really easy just not to give someone another piece of work, right. It’s it’s not like a job where, you know, you you have some leeway if you have a bad day, like there really isn’t a lot of leeway in freelancing. And I’m not saying life doesn’t happen. You know, definitely people come to me and say they’ve had so yeah, so. Oh, sorry, Catherine. I think we’re picking up your mic.
Come to me and say as some kind of life event happened, or whatever life happens, but it’s a lot easier to accept those things when every other interaction I’ve had with that Freelancer has been reliable, right? So you’ve got to just really commit to that kind of accountability. And I think just in your career in general, is, is that’s kind of your integrity, if you, if you say, you’re gonna do something, you just have to do it. It’s especially in freelancing, it’s just kind of, you’ve got to be the one want to do it. That and then keep taking steps forward.
So yeah, I mean, freelancing, I think, as you all know, you’re all working in it, you’re committed to it, it’s not easy. It can be discouraging, because it takes time. So find a way to mark and celebrate your progress. So I think, set a goal for the year, maybe that’s a certain amount of money you want to make, maybe that’s a certain number of new publications, you want to publish on our new pieces.
But just, I mean, we have the new year coming up, this is a time when a lot of people set goals, put on paper somewhere, put it up on the side of your computer, give yourself a spreadsheet with some checkmarks or something and just remember that you’re making progress. So set that goal and just work towards it and be happy with the progress that you’re making. It’ll help keep you from getting discouraged. And that’s really the key, I think, for anything like this, that’s, that’s, that’s a commitment. And that takes time is just to keep at it.
Stay connected to those communities that can really, really help you. And I can guarantee that if you are feeling discouraged, or you’re having a tough, you know, month, whatever, you can go in there. And just say like I’m, I’m there’s gonna be other people who are feeling that way as well. And then just stay committed to improving, right, you just have to understand that freelance writing, and really, any career is sort of a long game. So you just have to keep your eye on what you want, understand what your goals are, and stay committed to that.
So it’s kind of a mindset, right? When things are difficult in things definitely can be difficult in in freelancing, you just have to keep that in mind that this is a long term thing, if this is what you really want to do. And then I think the last one is don’t sell your sell short, right? It’s kind of a balance. On the one hand, I’m saying you’ve got to climb the ladder. The same time, you want to make sure as much as you can, that you’re spending your time on work that’s contributing to your career growth.
So balancing that can be hard, and I’ve definitely been there. Everybody needs to make money, and you’ve got to take the jobs that will pay your bills and, and do that. But try to spend the time to get the best ones that you can that you are capable of the ones that are in your niche, the ones that are helping you build your portfolio. And what that looks like is going to depend on on your situation. But again, it’s kind of a mindset, like you know, what your goals are, you know, what you need, you want to be working towards something bigger.
So just think about how that can help you how what you’re doing can help you get there, and whether you can make any adjustments to keep keep improving. Yeah, and those are my my slides for today. Hopefully, got some questions. Does anybody have any questions? Career gaps? Um, yeah, I mean, Nina’s asking, how do you explain any career gaps?
I mean, it depends on the reason everybody has them. I think in freelancing, it’s a little bit easier to sort of like Fuzzles over a little bit, because if you’ve been freelancing, and you maybe haven’t published, you can still kind of have that on your resume as you were as that you were freelancing for that gap. I think depending on what it is, you can be honest about it if it comes up.
I mean, people have illnesses, they have gaps for education, women have gaps for having children, I think those are all okay. And I think the other thing that you can do is when you do have a gap during that gap is as best you can try to use it to make progress in some other ways.
Tara Struyk 39:46
So, can you get a small certification that way you can say, you know, during that gap, I was actually working towards, you know, getting my Google Analytics certification or something. I mean, it doesn’t have to be huge, but it just helps show that you’re still committed to, to your progress during that time. But yeah, I mean, I think I think they happen. So as long as, as long as you have a way to sort of explain how they fit into the story of your career, I think that can be okay. You don’t want to try to like, hide it or lie about it.
But you just want to show that it’s part of your story, and then it hasn’t impeded your growth as a professional. Right. Any other questions? Yes, yeah, cold calling is tough. And I’ve done it, like I’ve done it, for guest posting, for backlinks, that kind of stuff. I mean, yeah, when I got discouraged, that’s what someone told me is, you should try to get 100 rejections and consider that a success.
And that actually changed my, my mind set on it quite a bit. And I had more success, just understanding that there is a bit of a volume aspect to it. I also think though, if you are sending out a lot of cold calls, and you’re getting nothing in response, it could be an issue with approach. So you could maybe ask someone about your approach. And, again, like the communities that you’re in could be helpful. And then also, if you can find some connection to the people that you’re approaching, so it always helps me.
If I can say, you know, we were in the same group together, or just something that brings you a little closer, because it’s true editors get a lot of cold calls, and a lot of them or, you know, someone wants to post a guest post or something like I think it needs to be a bit more sincere than that. And come from more human place, like, so just think about how you can make that connection with the editor. more authentically, but also, yeah, I understand that the cold calling is hard.
But if you if you are sort of if you have a strategy that you’re using to reach out, and you want me to take a look at it, I’d I’d be happy to do that and kind of give some suggestions. I think when I get most often is sort of these very standard. Hi, I want to do a guest post on your site. No one’s ever going to respond to that. So if you want, if you want different results, you might need a different approach. But yeah, it is. It’s hard, cold calling cold calling is hard. So that’s again, why I recommend those communities and seeing if you can make even that small connection first.
And then someone’s more likely to to connect with you again. Okay, I have a question for you guys. Next week is the last class. But I’m not sure what to cover. And so I think, if you have any suggestions on what you want, or need, or would find helpful, that would be that would be helpful for me. Does anybody have anything? Do you feel like I’ve missed anything? Nobody? Okay, well, all portfolio profile reviews. Oh, cool. So are you saying, you know, like everyone maybe bring their portfolio in? And we kind of like, have a have a high level look at it.
Yeah, I think that would be really, actually fun. I can put that into the, I can put that into the slack chat. And if people want to throw their portfolios in there, I’d be happy to take a look and kind of give some suggestions. Yeah, and interesting and choosing a niche. Rewriting some of their content. I think like, it can help to pull up some of the sites and like, Yeah, we talked about reading, like a writer, or reading like an editor, right? So looking at their content, and understanding sort of how they’re doing it what their style is.
So yeah, I do think rewriting it or maybe writing something else and trying to sort of copy that style as closely as you can practising that can be helpful. All publications have their style, and it’s it’s a good practice to kind of have an idea of what that is. So, yeah, I think, I think that can be useful. And certainly if you have a publication that you really want to write for. Doing some samples and that style can be can be helpful, too.
I mean, if someone sends an application, I definitely want to see samples that resemble what I’m looking for. In the style and And then topic area. One thing that I see quite often is people will say, I want this, I want this job writing for this tech site. And here’s some samples on horseback riding or something like I’m really not kidding. It’s just completely unrelated.
It’s, it’s probably not going to work. So yeah, definitely have have that in the kind of style and, and topic area that you’re looking for. Okay. So I will put a message next week, or in the next couple of days into the slack about doing a portfolio review. I think that’d be pretty cool. And it will probably help everybody get ideas from other people’s portfolio.
So we can plan on that. And I’ll try to think of I can think of anything sort of adjacent to that that we could talk about. And otherwise, I will see everyone next week. Oh, and if if you would like me to take one more look at your assignment. Put any edits in before next class, and I will give you one last round of comments there. So hopefully, we can have one more look at it. But yeah, I can plan to do that this week, if everybody’s wants to wants to work on it a bit more. All right. That’s it.
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