24 July 2006


One of the things I hate most about freelancing is pitching for work. It takes a special kind of chutzpah to put yourself on the line and wait for a prospective client to decide that they'll hire you.

Last week, I offered to help a Lithuanian travel company redo their web copy. Several emails went back and forth and I spent some time going through almost 150 pages of existing web copy to work out a price for doing the job. Because they are in Vilnius and don't have the kind of hard currency we take for granted, I offered them an extremely generous fixed fee at way lower than my usual rates. The job looks very interesting and enjoyable so I didn't feel I would lose out overall. Today they mailed me back to say they are talking to a few other editors. Ok, I probably should have seen that one coming, but I was given the impression that I was the only one in the running until today. I expect it will all hinge on price, ultimately. Never mind the amount of time I have spent on it.

That's why I hate pitching. You can spend ages pricing a project for a potential client only to get turned down.

I'll know tomorrow, anyway, if I get the job or not.

It's just that I find pitching almost humiliating. Not quite, but almost. I strongly believe that the quality of my work speaks for itself. And most of my work comes from word-of-mouth referrals, which is how I like it to be. But as a freelance, you can't stand still. There is always a need to search out new markets and find new clients, so selling yourself is part of that process. It's just that that's the bit I hate most. I've never been a competitor - I used to hate school sports days, for example - and I'm not particularly ambitious. I just want to enjoy what I do and be paid well for it. Let's face it, I am good at what I do. And that's not arrogance, just honesty.

So I prefer my work to speak for itself. Except that I can't stand still, the nature of freelancing means I have to keep touting myself, which goes against my nature.

Besides the Lithuanian job, I'm also pitching for some financial editing at a quarterly magazine. I'm more likely to strike lucky there as there is a shortage of copy-editors who know their way round the financial stuff.

It's summer anyway, the silly season, when things are quiet. In the meantime, I'm keeping myself busy writing my new website copy for my all-new, all-singing, all-dancing website... who cares about weekend breaks in Vilnius?

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