Dear Lifehacker, Last November I quit my old job and finally gained the courage to chase my dream and I am now a freelance cameraman. I am fortunate enough to have a friend inside the industry who gave me contacts so I could get work, and I immediately shot off emails with my resume. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have done it at a worst time. November and December are when things wind down and I’m afraid with all the holidays they’ve already forgotten me. How do I remind people that I am available for hire without seeming like a pest? Thanks, Forgotten Freelancer
Image: Flazingo Photos
It’s not neccessarily the case that November and December have to be the worst for every type of freelancer — freelance Santas, for example, are unlikely to be hired any other time of year — but you’re broadly correct that November and December are tough months for any kind of creative professional because so many schedules are hurried up so that regular staffers can take a festive season break.
Having freelanced for more of my career now than I’ve spent in fulltime staff jobs, it does get better the more of a robust contacts list you build, as there can often be work that’s either hitting that Christmas deadline and needs to be attended to quickly, or longer-term work that you can spend those quieter months working on.
But that doesn’t help you right now. The key, as with all things freelancing, is a relatively gentle but persistent touch, because it’s the easiest thing in the world to vanish as a freelancer. A polite email or two to a couple of selected clients, especially if you’ve already got a relationship either from the previous year or from the previously held staff job, can do a lot to get the ball rolling.
You may also do slightly better with just a secondary followup email sans resume with perhaps a link to where they can download it online. That way you remove some of the pester factor as they can view it if they’re interested but not feel pressured by a pushy attachment.
Freelancing is about marketing yourself, and that doesn’t have to exclusively mean sending out emails pitching for work. If there are relevant other functions that you can attend where commissioning editors are likely to be, simply being present can be a non-pushy way to remind them that you’re still out there hustling for work. I’ve lost track of the number of product launches I’ve been to where I’ve walked out with a commission for a completely different story simply by being present.
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