Is it too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year? Probably. But it's that start of the New Year that should signify new beginnings and possible changes. I'm now approaching my two-year anniversary of freelancing and although I thoroughly enjoy it, there are still some niggles that get me - like when is the next contract coming through? I'm at that stage of the year where I'm sort of in the middle of contracts.
I am betwixt contracts.
I am contract-less.
This is not strictly true, however. I have an ongoing contract with a reputable examinations board for ELT and I've still got two tests to write for them, but the deadline is May 2020. Of course, I'm going to work on them before that (today, in fact), and I'll reach the deadline way before May. So what is one to do? I've come up with a short list of advice for freelancers, like me, who are on the lookout for new contracts.
- Tidy that desk
Like many of you, I have a very hairy cat, who likes to prevent me from working by sitting on the desk, the keyboard, the mouse, anywhere in fact to stop me working. So, I have tidied and polished the desk all ready for those tests I mentioned above. It also helps to clear the mind if you have a clean and tidy desk - but don't mention that stack of papers just to the left of me - that's research and guidance for the tests. It just looks messy.
- Make contacts
I knew that this period of freelancing would be fairly empty, so now's the time to call on previous contacts to let them know you still exist. It's also a good time to contact prospective clients, and I've found that a mixture of cold emailing and LinkedIn helps. You can always find someone to help, even if it doesn't lead to anything - your name is out there.
- Plan for conferences/training
For me, working in the ELT field, the English Teaching Professionals team is having an awayday in Oxford later this month and I have my ticket all ready to go. I'm also going to be booking my ticket for the IATEFL conference, which is in Manchester this year in April. It's also a good time to look at training possibilities, especially with the SfEP. For those interested in a super community with lots of support and events, especially in London, please do check out Byte the Book.
- Update profiles and website
This is certainly an ongoing thing for any freelancer. It's sometimes difficult to find the time to update every profile you have - for example, I have Byte the Book, IATEFL, ELT Professionals, a website, a Facebook page and Twitter. I'm sure I've missed something off. Oh yes, the Society of Authors. Don't forget, if you're a writer to update your ALCS information. And then, of course, there's LinkedIn. Quite a lot to remember to update.
- Update CV
I think this goes without saying - if you can remember to do it! After making those contacts, they will want to see a professional CV, so ensure it is up-to-date with all your relevant information and contact details.
- Don't give up
Sometimes, it looks bleak and unfortunately, with me being a fairly natural worrier (thanks Mum!), it can be a distressing time when contracts don't come falling in your inbox like butterflies into a net. Although anxiety may be high, you just need to trust in your abilities and how you approach those quiet times. It will be typical when those contracts come in like buses - all at once!
On a different note, and I wanted to have an image, I'm thrilled to see that my latest publication with Express Publishing has now gone on their website. LRN Practice Tests (C2), written in collaboration with Jenny Dooley is now available to order for all those schools preparing for the tests.
Don't forget, you can always buy me a coffee here.