How can I work as a writing and editing contractor?
December 8, 2009 9:37 AM   Subscribe

How can I get writing and editing contracts in Australia?

I have held writing and editing jobs for the past couple years, for the government and large corporations. I'm unemployed at the moment, and was thinking of pitching myself to companies for contract or freelance work.

Does anyone have any experience with this or any tips for me?

I am a 'sole trader' in Australia, I have an ABN as well as personal liability and professional indemnity insurance.

My experience is in business writing and web content.

I would appreciate any suggestions on how to find work or approach companies - thanks!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Most (larger) companies wouldn't touch you with a ten foot barge pole - there are too many unknowns, risks, and issues with hiring a freelancer off the bat. What you want to do is pitch yourself to agencies.

There are some agencies that specialise in representing writers for copywriting etc - embarrassingly I can't even remember the names of the two I worked for back in the day, kinda like Sensis but not shit. Do not work for Sensis - and other agencies that are more general 'creative' agencies, production agencies not necessarily advertising etc.

You will have better luck getting a foot in the door with the former, but you may end up getting more/better work at the latter. Your experience could work well for both.

Obviously this is highly dependent on your CV and how you represent yourself. Getting work from either will be difficult - most of the agencies I work with now (from the other side of the fence) are still recovering from GFC and giving their regulars the level of work they used to get. Also Christmas is a very rough time of year for writing.

As to finding the agencies - check out the Australian Writers Marketplace, find some collateral/web content from govt depts and big Australian companies (e.g BHP or something), and look for the copyright or 'developed by' at the bottom of the page, go from there.

Also, keep your eye out for 'communications'-type short term government contracts - there are often many of these open for one level of govt or the other, usually 3-12 months, either project-based or covering for maternity leave. These contracts will pay you waaaaaaay better than any agency work (agencies, particularly the first example that work with a pool of freelancers, take a massive cut from whoever they bill). Look on and; these jobs are always advertised with recruitment agencies and rarely on govt websites. Once you get a recruiter on board, they should be able to send more your way.

Good luck.
posted by smoke at 2:29 PM on December 8, 2009

Oh, the other thing I forgot to mention is the networking angle - esp with your large corporations you've already worked for. Did you leave on good terms? Get in contact, let them know you're freelancing, if they have any projects they need help on, etc.

Fyi in this situation you will want to be *extra-special* professional. Freelancers charge a lot more than you get as a wage slave because of tax, super etc. Former colleagues may not think you're worth the money, will not be open to paying a realistic amount (and do, do, do find out what a realistic amount is and charge that. Under-pricing just convinces people you don't know what you're doing. Of course, you do have to know what you're doing to charge more. $100 an hour would be a minimum base rate for someone with 4-5 years[ish] experience).

Talk to the people who don't care about the money/budget so much at your old jobs, not the lower-downs. They will be more interested in the quality of the work than what it costs. If you left with a rep for very good work, in a busy company where people have money but not time, you can make a lot of money doing this. Become indispensable "go-to" person for special projects (speech-writing, whatever), and you can make even more. It can also lead to a 'real' job if you so desire.
posted by smoke at 4:46 PM on December 8, 2009

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