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Sunday, May 31, 2015

What do YOU want?

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog lately. I think it’s time for a redesign. I’d love to see a new look, but while I’m at it, how can I make it more useful?

I remember the year I started this blog. I had been freelancing for a year and had landed a job as a project editor for Harcourt’s Randstad division. I searched the Internet constantly for a resource that I could use to help me find freelance jobs focusing on education. Nothing. After a few months of this, I realized that if I was looking for that resource, then so were other people. And in January 2008, this blog was born.  I started by sharing my thoughts on breaking into freelance education writing and by posting leads that I’d found in my daily searches. If they weren’t a good fit for me, then they were a good fit for somebody and it was a shame to waste all that searching.

2008 still has more blog posts than any other year. What I remember most about that year is the sense of community I felt. When I went back into the classroom and couldn’t keep up with the posting, that community took up the slack. Terry, Beth, and Michele started posting leads. Michele is the only volunteer still posting and she's a big part of why this blog is still alive. Thank you, Michele. You are appreciated.

So now what? I know that this blog has become a solid resource for both freelancers and those who hire them. It’s not going away. But it may be time to evolve. I’ve thought about the focus and here’s where I stand: I want to help connect education freelancers with the companies who need them. That’s my focus. If, within that focus, I can help new freelancers get started or experienced freelancers move into new market areas then so much the better.

I know that this blog has about 1,000 email subscribers. (Wow! I remember how excited I was when we hit 200!). Most of those are job seekers, but some of them are people who hire freelancers. With this post going out to 1,000 subscribers, I should get some solid feedback.

So here’s what I need from you. What do YOU want out of this site?

We currently have:
  • blog with job leads
  • discussion board
  • small list of writers

Are these effective? Do they need to change?

I’ve been thinking about:
  • guest blog posts from freelancers
  • guest blog posts those who hire them
  • interviews with freelancers
  • interviews with those who hire them
  • a writer page with short profiles of our freelancers
  • a company page with short profiles of companies who hire freelancers

What do you think about these? Are they too much? Is there something missing? I need feedback!

I would love to hear from you on this. If you want to share your thoughts with the community, go to the post and comment directly there. If you want to respond to this post by email, I'll be the only one who receives it. If you give me permission, I can add it to the comments as submitted by a subscriber. Reading your ideas might generate more ideas. Post links if you have examples of what you'd like to see here.  I found that the more people involved in the conversation, the more people will get involved.

I look forward to hearing from you!
Laura Coulter


Suzanne Pitner said...

Hi Laura,

First of all, I want to say thank you so much for continuing this blog. I've been a subscriber for some time now, and I've found a few jobs and I've also passed many on to friend who are also writers in the education market.

I think the guest blog posts will only be useful if it saves you time, and the topics add value to your site. Just my two cents. But I think a page about the companies that hire freelancers would be great. They could state their expectations, needs, and wants. Also, if other writers were able to leave feedback and comments about their experiences with the company, that would be good, too.

I'm in the classroom right now, so I often see job postings that I don't have time to commit to, but I forward them to other friends. You are doing a terrific service for us, and I appreciate it!

Jill said...

I agree that information about the companies who hire would be great. Feedback from other freelancers about their experiences with various companies is invaluable.

Kirsten Larson said...

Hi there! I'm another loyal reader who loves (and has found gigs) through this site.

Evelyn Christensen has a great list of educational markets, so I'm not sure you want to duplicate that.

However, I think a referral network may be valuable. Most educational writing is driven by short timelines. Editors need someone who can do the work NOW! Often, if I'm not available, I like to refer someone else with expertise. It would be nice if we could have the ability to share information about editors/companies we know are actively looking for writers.. Also, perhaps we could have a database of writers we could contact and refer to editors. Just a thought.

Joanne Mattern said...

Hi, Laura,

I love this blog and have gotten several jobs from it. As a freelance writer, I am mostly interested in job listings, so anything that would connect me to possible clients (such as a referral list or information about companies who are looking for freelancers) would be my #1 choice. I like Suzanne's comment about having a place where we can post feedback about working with a company too. I'm not really interested in other people's blogs--I really just come here for job leads.

Thanks again for providing such a wonderful resource!

Michele said...

Hi Laura...first, thank you for starting this in 2008 (!!!!!) Wow, that feels like a long time ago. And thank you for the appreciation...I really like sharing job listings and's important for freelancers to share.

I have a few thoughts:

I like the idea of connecting freelancers to companies...a more direct link to jobs would be great. I wonder how that would be might mean having more companies on the list and perhaps a list of freelancers by skills set, topics of interest, etc., with descriptions of the writers, as you suggest. Maybe then companies could directly reach out to potential writers. Or, as you said, a list of companies who hire freelancers...but maybe with more specific criteria so the match is more refined.

I like the idea of the blog being more informational. I like the idea of hearing from companies who hire freelancers...and how they make their selections. If we have guest blogs with freelancers, what would the focus be? Maybe the different types of writing that people do, with suggestions for breaking in, and related?

Another helpful thing would be some professional guidance...maybe a resource section on pricing projects, submitting proposals (with samples), etc.

I'd also like to expand to include instructional design...and to get leads on related gigs.

I think it would also be helpful to find how who got which posted jobs...and how those gigs went. It's hard to know when you are just posting in the cloud, so to speak, how things worked out.

Tina Cho said...

Thank you, Laura, and the rest of you who update this blog with info for us. I, too, have found some leads through it. What's helpful for me is continued job posting and maybe hearing from educational companies, the HR person who does the hiring. Thanks again!

nicole denise said...

I agree with many points stated already. I haven't found any gigs yet, but I think it's because of my background (mid-career educator transitioning to a new field). I'd love resources on breaking in, or how I can become more desirable to potential employers. Hearing from educational companies would be wonderful.

Jessica Purcell said...

Hi Laura,

I wanted to echo the appreciation that others have expressed with regards to your continued dedication to this blog. The information you provide has been invaluable to my project searches!

Personally, I would benefit from learning about fellow freelancers' positive and negative experiences with companies, as well as a means to communicate with other education writers in order to develop possible collaborations on larger projects.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us!