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May 14, 2002
Using the Internet to Freelance
By Robert Anthony

Here we present the first of a series of articles from Robert Anthony, author of a wonderful new book, Freelancing: Using the Internet to Find a Job and Get Hired. The book presents a fantastic overview of how to break into various fields in freelancing. Additionally, it explains the role of high-technology in freelance work today and it offers reviews of 30 of the internet's best freelance sites.

The world is going digital.

The Internet is a part of our daily lives, and the ability to transmit virtual megabytes of information and data (that's writing work) simultaneously throughout the world at very little expense has a tremendous implication on your future as a writer. Like a Star Trek transporter come to life, time and distance are no longer an important factor in a world that is intertwined and united in a virtual reality. This revolution (or is it an evolution?) in commerce provides you with tremendous opportunities for low-cost communication with those who need your writing services, with little or no significance of geographic separation. Some of my best writing contracts these days are, in fact, with people and firms that are far away, completely across the country. On any given day, I may complete an educational writing assignment for my largest client in New York, New York, followed by another for a marketing client in Alameda, California.

The work I do for Fred Damsen is a typical example. I love to work with wood. That is, when I'm not writing. Fred, who is the owner and operator of The Japan Woodworker in Alameda, California, and The Japan Woodworker Fine Catalog of Tools, hired me to write and develop his marketing and public relations materials and writing projects for the media. As his freelance writer, located almost 2,500 miles away, the work that I do for Fred is delivered to him online via e-mail and e-mail attachment.
"I use a writer online because it would be hard to find someone locally who is a marketing specialist, and a good writer who knows woodworking equipment," says Fred. "Online I was able to find a marketing and writing specialist to help me develop my marketing and public relations material for my specialty woodworking tools. The fact that he is half way across the country makes no difference, because he delivers his work to me online. He prepares press releases for me to send to woodworking editors throughout the country, and writes marketing material for me. When we have to include photography in our releases, we simply send file attachments back and forth. So, online we are able to accomplish as much or more than we could otherwise."

Kristen Keets, a freelance writer from Michigan, also works for a client in California. "That's almost 3,000 miles away," she says. "We've never met, but he's become one of my steadiest customers." Kristen initiated a relationship with her client off his Web site via e-mail, and has facilitated their work relationship entirely by e-mail and over the Web. Kristen's rates for online contract work are $65 to $150 per hour, depending upon the nature of the work she's completing. Still, her rate is significantly lower than what her client could obtain locally in California.

If you plan to write professionally in the future, expect to work online from the convenience of your own keyboard. Life online is grand, isn't it?

Internet Applications

So why would a writing client be willing to hire your work online? Because there's a serious shortage of good quality writers these days, that's why. And, believe it or not, the demand for independent, freelance, or contract writing services will not reduce, but may even rise significantly as the result of a bad economy. It's a freelance phenomenon (because freelancers are phenomenal!). Even in a soft market the demands for writing work online remain high. A recent McKinsey Quarterly report entitled The War for Talent confirmed that even in a tight market, American businesses precariously need freelance talent. Many firms, which have already been forced to reduce payrolls and employee ranks, are already contracting freelancers to complete online project work. Salary.com reports that the annual earnings for these online freelancers range from $42,000 to $77,000. Get online and start sending cyber queries for writing work, because there's going to be a lot of it on the Net in the coming months and years. If you don't have a computer, get one.

A New Work Order

It's a new work world out there with a completely new organizational structure. Regular jobs are increasingly becoming project work and the outsourcing and contracting of freelance writers and workers online is becoming a main stay business practice. Certainly so in the writing game, and that's opportunity virtually pouring out of your monitor. Today's careers are becoming paid-by-the-job, online professions. Online vocations that are being driven by the ever-increasing need for hiring freelance people and there's an infinite line of buyers from around the world waiting to contract your services. Ninety percent of all companies seeking to obtain contract work in 2002 will do so online. Low cost and speed are their primary reasons. As a writer, you will want to become familiar with these new organizational models and acquire the necessary tools that are needed to maintain your competitive and creative edge in this virtual New World Work Order.

If you've not yet done so, working online can be an exciting, thrilling, and high-paying experience. You can visit and write for people and institutions from all over the world, and deliver your hard work at the click of a mouse. Using the high-speed connectivity of the Internet, you can find writing work while significantly reducing the time you spend looking for it. You can spend more time doing what you like most-that is, writing, without leaving your home or even making a phone call.

Robert Anthony has been a freelance writer for 20 years. He is the author of OCDT: Online Composition and Design Technology (OCD Technologies, 2000), and Job Surfing - Freelancing: Using the Internet to Find a Job and Get Hired, Random House, March 2002. He can be reached online at editor@profilesonline.com.

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