• My Best Friend Craig(slist) + More Blogspiel

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 6 comments

    I’d like to preface this by saying that I have weak spot for portmanteaus and compound words (e.g. “blogspiel,” and “blogverse” in my previous post).

    Checking Craigslist for freelance gigs makes me feel like I’m sixteen again. Except back then I was scanning the Caller ID to see if this or that boy called me. With Craigslist, I’m always on the lookout for the gig equivalent of first love. Freelance gigs that a) aren’t shady, and b) allow you to choose your subject are the rare and elusive unicorns of the literary world. Finding one might cause you to question your sanity. And/or panic—I get unpleasant adrenaline rushes when I spot an appealing freelance gig. I feel like the geeky girl from a bubblegum chick flick getting a last-minute makeover before prom, and obsess over whether or not my cover letter/pitch/clips is good enough to seduce the employer/editors.

    I currently contribute to BEMag as a freelancer after going months without a gig, but I’m still “chasing the dragon” on Craigslist. (Not literally—although an opium addiction is a very writerly vice.) Actually, I’m aiming for literary bigamy. I want that first love intoxication with additional freelance gigs; however, I have rigid standards. Craigslist features posts calling for SEO, technical, and grant writers nearly every day, but I’d rather work at Jack in the Box than get paid to write about the newest Apple product. Having to use keywords and recycle tired-sounding information? Not for me. There goes a large percentage of freelance work, but I’m no masochist.

    That’s why I blog. I may not get monetary compensation, but I get bylines, clips, and exposure.  And unless I’m entrenched in soul-crushing listlessness, it’s fun. The best part of blogging is that you don’t have to be anyone’s dancing monkey. Even contributing to other people’s blogs often allows for more artistic freedom than freelancing. When money isn’t involved, people aren’t as worried about risk management. As long as you’re not making dead baby jokes (or whatever compromises the blog’s reputation), you’re generally able to write how you like provided you keep within the blog’s theme.

    So that’s the other half of my scatterbrained spiel on blogging. (Funny how last week I began talking about ebooks vs. hardcover books and finished on the subject of blogging. Same thing this week, different opening topic. Obviously, I have more to say.) Next week I’ll focus exclusively on the “art” of blogging, if you will. As an ex-academic writer, I’ve had to reprogram my writing style to blog and it hasn’t been easy. I learned a lot in the past year, and I’m still learning. But more on that next week.


    In addition to writing for WriteByNight’s blog, Jenna Cooper writes for BE Mag and a blog called FemThreads.  Aside from writing, Jenna served as an AmeriCorps Member from 2008-2010 and will start her M.S. in Information Studies in Fall 2012.  She graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in English from the University of Texas.


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    I love your description of the “unpleasant adrenaline rush” when you spot an appealing gig on Craigslist. Beautifully expressed! I’ve tried to renounce Craiglist for precisely this reason. I’ve only had low-grade experiences from the work I’ve got from there so it doesn’t feel like a big loss. Instead, I’ve girded my loins (can you do such thing with a pen??) and followed the advice of this freelance writing guru: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/2011/07/29/write-15-blog-post/ Carol Tice (the blog owner) advises writers to avoid content mills and Craigslist and bidding sites and to look for decent-paying gigs elsewhere. Carol is a fount of advice… Read more »


    Thanks for the feedback! I enjoyed Carol Tice’s article; it was refreshing to read her positive outlook on the future of freelance rates. I’ve found very few quality gigs on Craigslist, but I check anyway because every once in a while I find a “diamond in the rough.” (Also, girding ones loins with a pen could work, provided the pen is long, flexible and able to tie garments.)

    David Duhr

    The Gigs section is usually a crapfest, but since CL started charging users to post in the actual jobs sections, WRI has gotten way better. But still, yeah, there are FAR better places to find freelance work.

    (And far worse places)

    Thus we have reached the end of my rather pointless and non-insightful comment.


    Not pointless, because I didn’t know that that CL started charging employers to post in job sections. Good to know! Where would you suggest going instead to find freelance work? I find going to different publication’s websites disheartening, even if they’re small or local. Like the Chronicle. I wish I could write for them, but I’m sure the rest of Austin’s freelancers feel the same way.

    David Duhr

    I don’t really have a good answer, as most of my quality freelance work has come because I’ve been fortunate enough to know people who know people. I.e., I fall ass-backward into assignments. So I guess the best tip is, fall ass-backward and hope someone is behind you. (Ignore that. That’s stupid.) But don’t be afraid to use your connections. If you know someone who is friendly with an editor at the Chronicle (for example), say “Hey, would you mind sending a mutual intro over email?” I’ve gotten lots of work, and have gotten work for friends, that way. And,… Read more »


    Just joined MediaBistro.com and I look forward to meeting everybody face-to-face at the loft party. Thanks for the advice!

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