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Home > Publications > Quill > What's in your freelancer profile?


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Tuesday, August 7, 2007
What's in your freelancer profile?

by Wendy A. Hoke

As the push to market SPJ’s new Freelancer Directory continues, we are learning more about how to make it better in terms of functionality and visibility. Editors to whom we market (about 46,000 in late June alone) have taken the time to let us know when the search works for them, what functions would ease its use, and their frustrations when they can’t find what they are seeking.

We all know that marketing is a big part of freelancing. What’s on your profile? What does it say about your writing abilities and experiences?

If you can’t remember, then you probably need to revisit the profile.

Our specialty list is not extensive. Rather it provides a broad category in which individual freelancers should specify further in their profile.

For example, if you check “business,” what exactly do you cover in business? Banking, financial markets, small business? Specify your area of expertise. Why? When an editor searches either by specialty or geography, he or she will see a list of names, cities and states and a list of specialties that you indicate.

You can differentiate your skills and expertise on first glimpse, when your name and location are paired with others who cover business. Take a minute to use the search functions and see what comes up for various profiles.

Click further into freelancer profiles to see how others have handled a listing. What’s in their bio? What makes their page look attractive to editors? How have they positioned their expertise?

Avoid a bio that reads: “I’m Mary Writer and I write about business.”

That hardly compels an editor to look further. If you cover the financial markets and that’s the kind of work you are seeking, then be specific here. Where has your work of this nature appeared? The Wall Street Journal? Trade publications? Financial newsletters? Give the editors some kind of context for your experience.

The same holds true for any category that can be broken down into subsets. Do you cover higher education, education reform, education financing? If you’ve checked medicine, do you cover medical devices, medical research or trends?

If arts are your specialty, make a mention in your category listings of whether you’re a reviewer or if you cover architecture or music. If music is your beat, do you cover popular or classical? And if you checked religion/spirituality, do you write exclusively about Buddhism or Catholicism or Christianity?

You get the drift. Specifics matter. Put yourself in the shoes of an editor who is looking to make an assignment.

Review your clips periodically to make sure the links remain active. Refresh them from time to time with more recent or relevant work.

If your contact information changes, add the SPJ Freelancer Directory profile to your list of places to update.

A good thing to include is a link to your Web page, where editors can find more information about you. However, in the search to find specific kinds of writers for several editors who inquired recently, I found at least four profiles with Web sites under construction.

The beauty of this listing is that it’s easy to update any time. It does you no good to include a Web site in your listing if it’s under construction. Wait until the site is live and then add it to your profile.

We recognize that many editors do not turn to directories to find freelancers. But construction of this database was in direct response to inquiries we did receive from editors at large, national news organizations that were seeking writers from a variety of geographic locations.

While we can’t guarantee you will get work simply by being listed, we are hearing from freelancers who are pleased with the work that has found them. We’re beginning to get feedback on the kinds of assignments coming in, and we’re encouraged.

Trade magazine editors are turning to our database with greater frequency. Specialty pubs also are finding our freelancers. Although a listing may not lead to the one-time cover story in Parade magazine, it could lead to a steady gig writing business features for a trade magazine.

Consider the Freelancer Directory one more tool in your marketing arsenal. Just don’t forget to give it a tune-up from time to time.

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