Shop Talk: Drumming Up Work In The New Year

If you’re anything like me, you’ll still be accidentally signing invoices, checks, and other documents as “2011” for at least few more days. Compared to previous years, 2011 was a pretty crummy run for myself and quite a few other freelancers I know. Some excellent outlets shuttered (GamePro, What The Play), gigs dried up, and the work just didn’t seem to flow as smoothly. But 2012 is here, and it’s time to kick some ass.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2012: be like more Chuck Norris. Who’s with me now? Here’s a quick and dirty list of a few ways to clean house and jump start some freelance work mojo in the New Year.

Sit Down and Do Some Good Old-Fashioned Research

When you’re focused on churning out work for your regular pool of steady freelance gigs, it’s easy to overlook new writing opportunities that arise throughout the year. For some folks, the pre-holiday coverage rush is also so chaotic, that it takes most of December to recover and recharge. Now that things have settled down a bit, take some time to sit down at your computer and poke around online. Look for new gig leads, make lists of possible articles ideas to pitch, and see what other folks are writing. Then swing by the bookstore and scope out the print shelf to see what’s cooking in the magazine realm. January is a great time to prep and plan for what’ll hopefully be a busy year ahead.

Follow-Up On Any Pending Pitches

Still have any older pitches you fired off to editors before the holidays but haven’t heard back on? Join the club. It’s tough to lock new assignments down as the deadline craziness builds leading up to X-Mas (note: really wanted to type X-Men there just now, as in “Merry X-Men!”). A lot of editorial staff at the bigger gaming outlets also take the week between X-mas and New Years off, and then it takes a few days for them to tame their overflowing inboxes after they’ve returned. Wait a couple of days after the first of the year, and then touch base with your editors about any straggling assignment pitches.

For Heaven’s Sake, Finish That Leftover Work

[Raises hand] Ok, I’m guilty of this too. I’m still wrapping up some leftover assignments that I booked up right before the editorial world went dark for the holidays as well as a few other long-term pieces. Finish up any leftover assignments you have kicking around so you can start with a clean slate and fire up the pitch cannon. Have any fluid assignment deadline assignments been procrastinating finishing? Knock those out now while you have time. Then you’ll be able to focus on scoring new work with a fresh mindset.

Re-Kindle Neglected Editorial Contacts

Work ebbs and flows in the freelance world. Sometimes I’ll write a ton of pieces for an outlet in a given month, then I won’t wind up doing anything for them for a few months in a row. That’s just the way it goes. Now is a great time to get back in touch with editors you haven’t pitched in a while to see if they could use you again.

Don’t Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! – Pitch Pitch Pitch!

There’s a magic word all freelance wizards should know well by now: PITCH! Try breaking into a new publication you haven’t written for yet. Come up with a list of ideas and start working those into pitches. Read up on your target outlet, tailor those puppies to match their style, and let ’em rip. Hell, fire off pitches to your existing editorial contacts too. Get off your butt and pitch pitch Pitch PITCH PITCH!


Want to read more Shop Talk? Why not scope out the archive for past installments!


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