I am the last guy to toot my own horn or even go so far as to let anyone know I exist. This is why I get such a kick out of playwrighting (this theatre in NJ being my favorite spot where my plays have been produced). I can watch other people say my words, saunter around the stage in a world of my creating and sit back (usually in the booth with the sound and light crew) enjoying from afar. Unless there is an author Q&A, all anybody knows about me is the very brief bio blurb I allow in the theater’s nightly program.
I just ‘do the words’, which is perfectly fine by me.
In my other life, I am a recording and occasional performing musician. Also, as you know, M. Christian and I teach at kink conventions now and again. So, I have no problem, and in fact, enjoy getting up in front of folks to occasionally making an ass of myself if this situation or work warrants it.
It’s just that I’m not so good at self-promotion or even pursuing work… although, as a freelancer I know I damn well should be.
Years ago, for the website, www.shortandsweet.com, I interviewed the fantastic actor, Frankie Faison, a nicer guy you’d never meet. He was promoting a movie at the time, and I was allowed about fifteen minutes with the guy. Besides playing “Barney” in various Silence of The Lambs, movies, he was also in one of my favorite all-time flicks, the Keith Gordon directed film version of dearly-departed Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night. In talking with Mr. Faison, he told me that although he was a working actor with a good amount of work to his credit and more coming, he was always looking for more.
Let that be a lesson to you and me.
I think I’m getting better at pushing myself, though. I don’t rightly know why or even when a sudden burst of hutzpah will take me, and I wish it took me more often, but I do know I am getting better at putting myself out there.
Just recently, I landed a client in Ukraine, far from my wild NJ suburban environs, by cold calling (cold emailing actually). I have never actually done this before, but desperate times and all that… although, again, as a freelancer, all times are desperate. In this case, I reached out because I happen to receive a weekly newsletter email from this adult toy company and figured, how could it hurt to just say hello and introduce myself, see if, indeed, they might be looking for copywriters.
It took months though to get an interview/consideration/manage a Skype call with the woman who I was emailing back and forth with, and the CEO of the company. As it probably happened for a lot of us, and might still be happening for a lot of us, the pandemic shut these good folks down for a bit, or at least for considering any new employees. Since I had inserted myself unsolicited into their world, and there had been a slow courtship of ‘Do we need this guy?’ ‘Maybe we do indeed need this guy?’ ‘How do we facilitate even considering this guy?’ I waited patiently over the two-months it took to manage that Skype call. Sure, I checked in via email, and I readied further links had they wanted them, but it really came down to the proverbial ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’
The lessons I learned?
1.) Do indeed reach out, even if there is no actual job posting. You might just hit someone at the very moment they are looking for what you do, without maybe, even them truly considering needing someone to do what you do.
And 2.) Stay persistent but do not cross over into annoying. Admittedly, this is not always a balance you can manage or even determine the parameters of. Still, these days with email, Skype, and digital carrier pigeon, you can maintain a respectful ‘just-checking-in’ distance.
The application of these lessons worked for me in this one instance, and I think they might work again.
I’ll add to this advice for those jobs you already have or those people you do occasional work for… keep on them as well. I am lucky to have seen a few articles published here, at Hot Movies. I hope to keep writing for them for a long time to come, and as long as I do, I will keep in touch with my contact there, as much for the work as to… well… keep in touch.
Sure, it makes it easier when your contact person, employer, editor, etc. happens to be a very nice person (as my contact at Hot Movies is,) but it’s good business to touch base every so often, stay on your contact’s radar, to say ‘hi, how you doin?’ in these times when it so easy to keep in touch.
There’s a line from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross I have morphed to fit my philosophy when it comes now to looking/pursuing work. In the film, Alex Baldwin’s character berates the insurance salesman with “Always be closing,” I feel, for us freelance writers, we should “Always be looking.”
I just have to learn to do this more. Maybe you should too?