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Corporate Roads Less Traveled: A Guide For Freelance
by Mary Anne Hahn
When targeting any
corporation for freelance work, most writers contact the communications
department. It makes sense, after all, that the department responsible for the
majority of a company's external and internal communications would have the
greatest potential need for freelancers.
But having worked in a
large insurance company for over 15 years, I can vouch for the fact that the
need for strong writers exists throughout the organization, not just in
communications. And the management in these other departments often realize that
need. But they probably won't even think to seek out a freelancer--unless you
make them aware of your availability, and show them how you might help them
solve one or more problems within their areas.
Moreover, this fact doesn't
apply only to insurance companies. Utilities, banks, hospitals, brokerage firms,
and a wide variety of other organizations frequently have similar departments,
with similar needs. You just have to know where to look, and whom to
The following list,
although by no means exhaustive, contains corporate "roads less traveled" where
enterprising writers might be able to pick up freelance work:
I list this one first,
only because I've spent a good deal of my own work history in the customer
service sector, so I know firsthand what writing needs exist there.
A certain amount of
service for many companies is done via correspondence--either through form
letters or more personalized responses from a representative to a customer.
Often these form letters could use a professional writer's touch, or these
representatives could use business writing training. Some organizations might
even hire a writer to assist them with their correspondence backlogs, or with
the creation of new form letters.
Another idea would be to
offer employee newsletters targeted to customer service departments. The
newsletter might include Service Employee of the Month, customer service tips
and articles, motivational quotes and stress-reducing techniques and
exercises. If you've ever worked in a customer service department, you'd
understand how valuable this type of newsletter could be in terms of employee
Next to communications,
HR departments probably produce the most documentation within an organization,
and most likely would be open to assistance in doing so. From developing
company policies to job descriptions, from posting fliers announcing upcoming
company events to handling employee benefits paperwork, human resource
professionals for whom writing may not come easily need to constantly
communicate to the rest of the company in writing. Can you help them get their
messages out clearly and professionally? If so, freelance opportunities
OK, maybe Marketing
produces even more written communications than Human Resources. Product
brochures, businesses proposals, and direct mail sales letters all fall under
the auspices of a company's marketing efforts. This written work is often
outsourced, which frees up the marketing and sales staff to study trends,
identify potential new business, and make sales calls. If you have desktop
publishing as well as writing experience, so much the
Writers might not think
to contact IT department heads, despite the fact that the need for writers in
this area is tremendous. Not only are technical writers needed to document
system specifications or create system user guides, but also non-technical
writers can assist IT with the creation of Internet site content for a
company's customers, or Intranet content for its employees. People who excel
in writing HTML appreciate working with those of us who excel in writing
clear, crisp content.
My current day job title
is "Document Development Coordinator" for the Training department, in which I
support the trainers by creating and/or editing a wide variety training
manuals and procedure materials. Let's face it, when they're actively training
a class, the trainers themselves have little time to research and update the
materials they use. Writing needs in the training arena include putting
together corporate glossaries of terms and acronyms unique to an industry and
organization, editing training and procedure docs to ensure that they're
user-friendly, and training the trainers themselves on how to write clearly
and effectively. If you as a freelancer can assist a company with these, many
companies might certainly welcome your services.
You will most likely need
to do a good deal of research, and make a number of telephone calls, to gather
the names of the people who head up these various departments. But the effort
could be well worth it, in terms of uncovering dozens of "hidden markets" and
new clients for freelance writing work.
© Copyright 2002, Mary Anne Hahn
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