Bidding with Focus

Love Struck

Finding work can be a daunting task and also, quite a shot in the dark. I’ve been doing this off and on for the past 7 years and it’s still very much the same landscape. It would be great if all job boards delivered only jobs that legitimate but the fact of the matter is, mostly every shot is in the dark but that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is when they try to sell you something.

Like I said, I’ve been at this for a little while and I’ve had my share of BS posts. After a bit you start to see the signs. There are the obvious ones, where the post has a link right there to some affiliate site (don’t click that! It probably won’t give you a virus but it will trap you in pop up window purgatory for a while) or it promises extreme amounts of money for very simple work. If it was that easy to earn, everyone would be doing it. They’re not. Don’t fall for the scheme.

I actually use Craigslist which is notorious for that sort of thing. Which is why many people try to stay away from it but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Sure there’s no gate keeper there (actually, the users are the gate keepers. Keep flagging bad jobs people) but I’ve gotten some pretty lucrative gigs from there and if a person pays attention, they can do the same. Scams usually don’t work very hard at hiding themselves.

But then there are the trickier ones where everything looks legitimate, they have a website, a promising email address, all the parts that equal a possible job so you apply. A few days later you get an email saying you weren’t selected but here, why don’t you sign up for some of our services or even post to your site’s message board.

Alright, stop right there.

This is a cheap tactic. Never respond to these. If your writing was good enough to gain exposure through a message board, then it was good enough to be paid for. Don’t fall for this. Don’t buy whatever they’re selling. Push the trash icon and move on the next.

The worst part of those gigs is the time that they waste. You spend your time putting together a well-crafted and thoughtful bid, only to have that sent back to you.

In order to save myself wasted time when bidding on jobs, I employ a triage system. The jobs that seem most likely go first and I spend time crafting my proposals and selecting my samples. The jobs that are in this pile are ones that are perfect for my type of writing experience and have no red flags.

Red flags are phrases such as “must be a native English speaker”, “no experience necessary”, “looking for top quality work” but has really low pay listed, etc. Red flags also include things like, low pay, poorly edited postings (meaning, not just a few typos but you’re concerned that English isn’t their first language), and links to anything other than their website or a submittable page.

If there is something in this adds that make me think that the job could be a real one, it goes in the second pile and they are bid on after the first rung jobs.  These bids are much more generic with a basic portfolio submission.

Then there is the third pile. The third pile is made up entirely of jobs that I think may be not worth my time and or frauds but they seem interesting. Most of the gigs in pile three get deleted after a second look. If they happen to still grab my interest, I send a generic bid with basic information and a single sample. I do not waste any time with these.

I have had some come back as real opportunities but mostly this pile is where you find your scams etc. Those replies get deleted and not a second thought paid to them. Once a bid system is employed, the process is more or less automatic.

Some freelancers enjoy a constant pool of work and never have to find clients. And good for them. That’s what we all want. But getting there takes time and effort. Recognizing when to bid and when not to goes a long way to saving time looking for work. Also learning to spot red flags so that you can avoid bad jobs all together helps a lot too. There are people waiting to hire you, you just have to wade through the muck to get them.

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Twilight to Twilight

I See the Moon One of the most important part of juggling freelancing and a full time job plus, you know, life, is scheduling. Which is pretty elementary. Anything you read will probably say that that. I’m not a time management guru, I take three hour long naps after work and wake up 15 minutes before I’m supposed to be at my day job.

Which is pretty contrary to what most writing advice usually supports. A lot of what is out there is always suggesting that writers set aside time to work in the wee hours of morning before children and spouses wake. Before cows need milking and eggs need plucked from chicken nests. Or I assume that’s what happens that early. I don’t know. I live in the city. The idea is to make that time, those early morning predawn hours, your time. Own it. Fill it with the work.

Which is all fine and good but I’m not a morning person. Mid-morning, maybe sometimes, but early morning, that’s a big never.

Also I’m not, generally speaking, very creative or productive just after waking up. I’m just a night owl.

So rather than restructure my entire biorhythm, I just structure my life around the fact that my brain functions best between 8PM and 3AM.

I come home, I nap for a few hours and then I talk to my children about their day, settle in at my computer and get to work until I pass feel sleepy again and go back to bed.
And that’s ok.

Mornings are not everyone’s best time. It’s not my time. I fill my nights with the work. There are hours long stretches of uninterrupted time there where I can fall into things, take breaks, do edits and rewrites. I can lose myself to the work.

Mornings, that’s just me trying to squeeze in time before I have to drop everything and handle the business of life. Night time is for creation. There is no other business. There is nothing else coming that will take precedence over the work.

There is only the work and I.

Mornings are for hobbies and for things you can drop. Nighttime is for things that matter. Things that keep you up. Not things you wake up for.

It’s semantics. Everyone is different. Some people are morning birds and do well in those wee hours, snatching time from other obligations. I prefer to set out a time when there are no other obligations and in a 9-5 world, that time is nighttime.

From twilight to twilight, the world is mine.  When others are rising to begin, I’m shutting down, a night well spent. Too few hours of rest, tasks that don’t matter, and we start the process over again.