Updated: Jun 13, 2021
“Son, you’re not going to like to hear this, but you have to pound the pavement just to get your foot in the door. You’re in New York City--that’s just how the world works.”
“Yeah, but things are different now, Dad. Cold calling is dead. No matter how hard I hustle, it’s all about who you know, not what you know.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. Try harder.”
I did, and I failed harder. Eventually, I decided that there HAD to be another way.
And there was.
Learning How To Get My Foot in The Door
It takes time to properly apply for a single job. You have to restructure your resume, draft a unique cover letter, follow up, follow up with the secretary--I feel like getting your foot in the door is a thing of the past.
These days, you have to bash down the entire door.
Whatever you do, whether hitting the LinkedIn easily apply button or going so far as to write a free trial piece for someone, your efforts can easily result in nothing.
Not even a response sometimes.
I spent years grinding and actively applying for thousands of writing jobs, freelance writing gigs--you name it. I’m not sure what my success ratio is, but I am sure I spent a lot of time doing this with very little results.
And what few results came my way usually weren’t ideal opportunities for one reason or another.
"There has to be a better way," I thought, "I need to be better!"
So I dedicated a lot of time sharpening my skills learning how to interview and pitch. I got so good that I taught interview skills for a living to high school students and ended up being featured in a book about freelance writing success.
So at this point I felt confident enough to pitch anyone, and I felt ready to be a real, professional full-time freelance writer.
Problem was, I didn’t know who I wanted to work for or where to find them.
We all outgrow the content mills at some point, and the next step for me when I left F*verr was to respond to ads on websites like problogger. For a solid two years, I found good gigs there. I took a break from pitching as much to be a tour guide at the Statue of Liberty, (no regrets) then the pandemic shut everything down and I returned to problogger eager to write again, only to find jobs advertising $0.04 as a competitive rate....
I said, there has to be a better way.
And there was.
I’m not talking about stimulus money--that ran out. And when it did run out, the opportunity that was there all along was still there all along.
And in hindsight, I wish I had spent more time capitalizing on this opportunity while I was teaching myself how to pitch and interview.
The Better Way: Passive Job Searching
I had been hearing that the real pros find a lot of work on LinkedIn.
“Recruiters just reach out to me,” the marketing gurus I followed said. “It’s a lot easier than you think,” they said.
In that moment, I knew how my parents felt whenever I told them doing something on
Facebook was easy.
Some of the gurus attributed that to their huge followings that they had cultivated from teaching people how to become freelance writers. But that didn’t make sense to me, because why would a hiring manager care about your program that teaches freelance writing? Wouldn’t they care about your writing?
And if you’re a full-time professional freelance writer, why would you give away so much of your trade secrets for free to your competition like me?