I confess, I’m an idealist. That notion was reinforced after receiving training at the Ted Scripps Leadership Conference in 2003. (I’m an ‘I’ for those of you who have participated in the personality profile process.) So you’ll understand why I have this burning desire to make things better. It’s hard-wired into my brain.
That’s why I took on the task of forming a new national committee for freelancers. In my experience, what freelance writers and editors needed was information, connection and a place to share thoughts, ideas and even misgivings.
Slowly, we are creating a virtual community of freelancers. So if you haven’t yet visited the Freelance section,, I suggest you make time today. With the help of Greg Jones at SPJ headquarters, we’ve set up several pages of information.
What I believed early on is that SPJ does not have to reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of organizations that do an expert job of tracking things such as contracts and copyright or setting up databases that have the eye of editors.
Our SPJ committee has set up a page with links to resources that can help freelancers. The resources include market information, contract advice, tax help and information about syndicating articles. We don’t have to have the answers, but we can channel you to those who can help.
A recent addition to the page is upcoming events, such as writer’s workshops and conferences. I’m always on the lookout for good links; so don’t forget to send me your suggestions. And I’d like to include information about regional conferences and workshops. So if you have information about a good one happening in your neck of the woods, send me an e-mail.
We’ve also added a page linking members to articles that have appeared in this space. I have a passion for freelancing, but I certainly don’t have all the answers relating to it, so if you have written a how-to piece about freelancing that you’d like to have posted, please send it to me for consideration.
That leads me to my primary goal: making the freelance message board a living, breathing place for freelancers to turn for help, information, commiseration and connection.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in talking to freelancers in the Cleveland area, where I live and work, and throughout the country, it’s that we all spend so much of our time in isolation. What we really need is a place to engage with like-minded people.
Here’s what we’ve posted so far:
• Interest in creating a photo ID for SPJ member card
• Creation of a master group list for contacting freelancers
• Soliciting suggestions for effective collection techniques
• Questions concerning ethical issues for freelancers
• Thoughts on creating/maintaining Web logs
But how this message board can really help is when I get an e-mail from Michael Luongo, a freelancer living in Buenos Aires, who is looking for a contact at Time or U.S. News & World Report. He was feet and eyes on the ground during a breaking news story and e-mailed to see if I had contacts at either of those news magazines. While I didn’t, I posted Mike’s request to the message board and to the e-list. Fortunately, Mike heard back from someone who was able to help.
I know I’ve written about making connections before, but it’s vitally important to those of us who make a living independently by our wits and our writing.
We also received a plea from Cincinnati-based freelancer, Lynn Wasnak, who is collecting rate information for an upcoming Writer’s Market guide. She writes of the importance of participating in such surveys.
“This is a general survey. It doesn’t compare with the proprietary information available to members of professional writers organizations, which is far more detailed and publication-specific. Still, as working professionals, it is in our best interest to keep these public rates as accurate as possible. They help new writers/editors and those new to a specialty. It also gives realistic rate info to new publishers and others who buy from freelancers,” writes Wasnak.
In a perfect world, I would love to see freelancers using the SPJ message board as a way to connect with others, whether it’s to set up informal networks for editing each other’s work or sharing sources on a broader scale.
The possibilities are endless, but the site only works if you participate. So visit often and let’s build our virtual community.
Wendy Hoke is a Cleveland-based writer and editor. She serves as co-chair of SPJ’s National Freelance Committee and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit Wendy’s online weblog, Creative Ink.
Tagged under: Freelancing