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Academic Freelance Writing and University Research: Then and Now



As the scope of available technology continues to change and grow, the options freelancers have for accessing and completing freelance work also expands. Individuals must hone skills and impart excellent time-management techniques to ensure job security and a leading position amidst domestic and foreign competitors. As this article reveals, today’s freelance writer must be more than a writer—he or she must be well-versed in understanding how new technology works and the role it plays in winning new and repeat business.


A Look Back



Many readers will remember the days of physically searching for freelance work through print classified ads, a list of magazines or other publication directories, and few online sources. In the early freelance days, some could find projects online but many publications and companies still required writers to submit a query or resume via postal mail and only a handful allowed fax submissions. Today, freelance writers find more work online than any other search medium and this includes listings for articles and jobs where the final product is in print.


University Freelance Writing

Some freelancers have relied on print directories such as (Writer’s Market, Children’s Writer’s Market Guide, etc.) to find specific publications and their respective guidelines. While these guidebooks are still available for purchase, the majority of copies are now digitized for instant and easy access and search capabilities. And what about those seeking employment as a writer or editor with a company? Before the growing pool of online freelance listings, writers and editors found it hard to learn of open positions that were not listed in a local or regional newspaper. Today, a number or job search websites (e.g. Indeed, Freelancer, etc.) make it possible to search for specific freelance or contract positions—both domestic and international.


Finding Freelance Work Today



Whether one seeks part- or full-time freelance work or contract positions where the freelancer bids on individual projects, the process of finding, applying for, and receiving freelance work has never been easier. In fact, the majority of freelance job websites make the process automated, meaning that by simply creating a profile and including a resume and cover letter, applying for work or projects is as quick and easy as clicking a button.


Modern technology makes it easy for freelancers not only to find work but to engage in better organizational and time-management skills by keeping track of projects via their personal computer and mobile device. While freelancers have long been able to work from home, the flexibility of where one works is a diverse as the individuals who comprise the collective freelance workforce. For instance, a freelancer can apply for a job via their mobile device while shopping at the mall. With the use of mobile devices, work can be completed virtually anywhere and at any time.


Tools for Success



The available tools for freelancers is too vast to list them all, but some of the best technology includes communication and productivity applications, various financial and time management applications, and social media. Interestingly, the majority of available tools can be linked for even greater productivity potential.


COMMUNICATION AND PRODUCTIVITY


A few of Google’s products include Gmail, Drive, and Calendar. Using Gmail provides the option to organize one’s inbox according to priority projects, schedule deadlines and set reminders using Google Calendar. Google Drive is an all-in-one solution for creating, editing, collaborating, saving, and storing whether the need is related to word-pressing, spreadsheets, or presentations, to name a few. These tools also make it easy to share with client and colleagues. Even better, Google’s products are accessible 24/7 on any device.


FINANCES


A number of applications for bookkeeping are also available with many operating on the same type of cloud platform that Google uses. Wave, FreshBooks, and Zoho are only a few of the online (cloud) programs freelancers can use to manage income, expenses, and other financial related functions. These programs also have invoicing capabilities built in where freelancers can bill for services via email, PayPal, or other preferred payment solutions.


TIME MANAGEMENT


Wunderlust is an excellent and recommended application that enables users to schedule projects and deadlines while collaborating with client or team members via the app. An interesting tool, though also a bit disturbing, is Self Control, an application that allows the user to block specific websites (i.e. Facebook) that might be tempting to surf when they should be working on projects. Why is this application disturbing? The app itself is not the problem; the fact that the freelancer might have poor time management skills and suffer from being easily distracted or a heavy procrastinator is of concern. If a freelancer needs to be “blocked” from doing other things online when he or she should be working to meet a deadline, there should be a serious reevaluation of the individual’s work priorities.


SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING


While individuals should not let social media become a distraction, these platforms have become integral to engaging clients or customers, increasing sales, and giving both the freelancer and his or her audience a place to post and access important information (i.e. discounts, promotions). Facebook is a constant presence freelancers can use to generate leads for more work and engage with clients. By using the pages feature, one can create a freelancer profile that lists the services offered while also include samples or testimonials from satisfied clients, among countless other uses. Twitter is beneficial for quick scheduled announcements but does not serve as a constant presence like Facebook. Other social media such as Pinterest and Instagram are not as beneficial for the freelance writer or editor.


Whatever the positions—writer or editor or manager overseeing freelancers—the technology available today makes coordinating work easier. Freelancers can find and accept projects quickly while companies seeking freelancers to hire can access profiles, portfolios, and resumes in a matter of minutes.


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