Finding Freelance Clients: Black Fashion Edition
Your favorite sites probably live and breathe by free content…i.e., people like you doing great (or not so great) work for them for absolutely nothing.
This would be an obvious problem anywhere else in the world — I used to go to a gym where the vast majority of the trainers weren’t being paid…they were hanging around for the promise of future checks and things eventually “blowing up”. Everyone could see how this wasn’t working out for anybody, but online, the same principle has become the norm, except, instead of future success, you’re promised “exposure” (which is almost always a trap).
My personal stance as a writer…if I’m not being paid, I don’t write. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do work for select causes and for my own projects, but for a for-profit site? It’s not happening. I’m hoping you start thinking the same way (at least some of the time), and want to show you a great example of why you should.
Bad Writing Gets Published…A Lot
My specialization is business, so I follow quite a few business publications. Just the other day, I ran across a photo of a beaming Terry Crews in my Twitter feed, accompanying the article, 7 outdated men’s style ‘rules’ that you don’t always have to follow.
The article wasn’t horrible I guess, but it was predictable, the language was stilted for no reason, and the topic, I’m quite sure, has died at least a thousand deaths…this is where fashion bloggers should pay attention, because bad (or even mediocre) content is a clue to a business need (and filling needs is what businesses pay for).
Business Insider, by publishing this article, is telling you that they’re interested in fashion content. By publishing a less-than-fresh piece like that one, they’re telling you they need help creating content that resonates (just look at the comments…they’re full of insight into the kind of fashion content BI should be publishing.)
They’re telling you there’s a need you, as a freelance writer, can fill.
Getting The Job
Hands down, the highest response rate I’ve gotten from cold contacting companies has started with criticism…carefully worded of course.
In this case, if I were a fashion blogger/writer, I’d point out the flatness of the article, suggest a series on something like “Professional ways to break outdated fashion rules”, tack on a link to my blog, and shoot the whole thing over to one of their editors (probably with a subject line like “Better Fashion Content On BI” or something like that.
Black men especially I want to pay attention here, because of the high profile of Black male trend-setters in fashion (specifically athletes…who so many business-folk dream of being). Notice the use of Terry Crews as the primary photo and a Black male model in the accompanying tie knot video. Those are signals that the publication isn’t necessarily scared of Blackness in its online content.
So give it a shot…you may have to hit up a couple of editors, different publications, and even follow up two or three times, but keep at it, and you’ll find people who are willing to pay to have the needs you fill addressed.