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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 contact.

The following list, although by no means exhaustive, contains corporate "roads less traveled" where enterprising writers might be able to pick up freelance work:

Customer Service Departments

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 morale.

Human Resources Departments

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 await.

Marketing Departments

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 better.

IT (Information Technology)

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.

Training Departments

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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