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Back to the future

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Here's a note I got recently from Jean Feingold, a writer, who has been following along with my weekly audio tips, Sound Advice. And be sure to read to the end for her "happy ending."

Confession time – I signed up for your marketing plan and have done almost nothing you've recommended. I have listened to most of the short messages and enjoyed them. If nothing else, you are an inspiration.
But let me tell you what I am doing that may be of help to other long time freelancers. It's what I call looking to the past for future work.
Over the years, I've had clients come and go. Some I dumped because they were not worth keeping; others happily disappeared just as I was about to say goodbye to them. But others have left for reasons completely unrelated to my work, perhaps a change in jobs or other life circumstances on their part, or a change in their publications that removed the need for freelance writers. These were folks I always enjoyed working with and missed when they went away. I have long made it a habit to say "hi" every few months by e-mail to editors I haven't heard from in a while and to offer them my services. Sometimes this has gotten me work.
Today I spent some time going through old records and cleaning out unneeded paper. This reacquainted me with people I had written for or about several years ago and had lost touch with. I made a list of their names and started searching for them online to see if they had new e-mail addresses or affiliations. One I found is now associated with a writing and PR service, so I wrote to see if they might have some overflow work. When she wrote back, I learned this website represents not a company of folks sitting in the same building but a group of freelancers all over the country! So maybe there will be some work here for me or with one of the others I have yet to contact.
The point is, good former clients and contacts are worth finding. If they liked your work once, they will either like it again or be willing to recommend you to someone who might. While I don't have any assignments yet from this latest effort, I've just started this e-mail program. I am optimistic it will produce the desired results.


There's now more to the story – the happy ending. My former client with the PR and writing service has more work than she can handle and I will soon be working for the service as well. The content areas it covers are ones with which I am quite familiar, so the learning curve will be short. 
What Ilise tells people about asking for work is right on. What's the worst they can say – "Sorry, there isn't any"? But maybe they will say "Not now, but later"  (an answer I've gotten from other former clients), or "Yes, we need your help now." You'll never know if you don't ask.

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