Don’t Let Impatience Get the Better of You

I know I’ve been absent from my blog for quite some time. Thankfully, I can say that’s because I’ve been quite busy with projects and assignments, so much so that I’ve had no time to keep up with my own site! Now, though, as always happens, the cycle is calming and I have to step up my marketing and job search efforts.

In doing so, I happened across this ad recently:

UPDATE: Apparently my install of WordPress spontaneously deleted the image. Hopefully you still get the idea.

This is just an excerpt of the ad, but the description is the most relevant part.

At first blush, a writer looking for work might glance at this and think it sounds kinda tasty. Words and phrases like urgent, long term, start work now and weekly payment call to the out-of-work writer like a Siren to Odysseus. After all, you want work — and payment — right now, so this looks like it’s right up your alley.

Look with a more critical eye, though, and you’ll see that this Siren is a trap, and it will leave you capsized on the rocks, just like so many sailors of Greek myth. How’s that, you ask? Let’s do a little translation:

  • Phrase: “we need long term writers”
    Translation: “We have to push out a whole bunch of keyword-stuffed junk content.”
  • Phrase: “we need to select in one hour”
    Translation: “We don’t have time to go through the diligent process of choosing good writers, nor do we really care, since we’re not going to pay much anyway.”
  • Phrase: “if you are ready for work now then apply”
    Translation: “We prey on the desperate among you.”

This is not to say that all ads that use this type of language are no good. Sometimes there are legitimate, high-paying clients who need long-term writers and/or need work done urgently. However, if that is the case, they will usually have much better-looking ads in much more attractive spots. As a rule of thumb, companies that can afford to pay a talented writer what he’s worth for a rush job can also afford the advertising campaign to find that writer. That’s why experienced writers like Carol Tice repeatedly caution against scouring Craigslist ads for gigs.

Instead of pouncing on ads like this one, hoping for a quick paycheck, spend your time on something that will benefit your writing business in the long term. For example, take an hour to:

  • Update your portfolio
  • Look at the ads on LinkedIn, or the Morning Coffee Newsletter from FreelanceWriting.com, or NAIWE…there are lots of better ads out there than the ones on Craigslist.
  • Edit and revise your query letter.
  • For that matter, send out some queries.
  • Do some marketing on Twitter or Facebook, or look for local business that might need your services.
  • Read.
  • Tidy up your workspace. There’s nothing like a neat desk to give you a fresh perspective.

There are plenty of things you can do when the gigs aren’t rolling in quite as fast as they were last month. Don’t sell yourself short because you are feeling impatient. Take a deep breath, enjoy the calm for a moment, and get to work.

And for Pete’s sake, steer your boat clear of those Sirens and the surrounding rocky shores.

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