To mark today’s news that the recession has ended, I’m running a poll here at Freelance Unbound to see if my fellow toilers in the antheap of media feel the same way.
The poll will be posted up on the right for a while – please do click to vote (though it would help if you do vaguely media/knowledge worker kind of work).
The timing of all this is quite appropriate for me, as a few days ago I actually turned down a work commission for the first time in more than a year because I was too busy to do it.
Visitors may in fact have noticed that things have been quiet here of late. That’s because I have been eye-wateringly busy doing real work – the kind with a pay cheque attached – so I haven’t had much chance to update the blog.
That’s good news in many ways – certainly in terms of paying the bills. But it has made me wonder how the rest of the media world is doing.
Looking back, my media recession lasted about five months, starting in about September 2008, during which a lot of regular work assignments dropped to nothing and my shift work looked threatened as the publishing house I am working for started restructuring and closing publications. This was scary.
In response, I did two things:
- Hustled for work
The hustling paid off, yes. But actually my main success came from a combination of luck and diversification.
Right now I’m sitting in on the production desk of a financial publishing company filling in for someone who went on maternity leave a year ago. The luck part comes in because she has decided not to come back to work full-time – or even half-time – so I get to keep working and earning, which is nice.
The diversification part comes in because the company in question runs events, and has decided to take its marketing and other design work in-house. Naturally, my production colleague and I fell on this work like wolves at lambing time.
Never mind that it’s not journalism. I don’t care, frankly (it’s why this blog is called Freelance Unbound instead of, say, Journalism Unbound). What it is, however, is an opportunity to be useful in the company. And being useful is a central pillar of freelance success, as I’ve noted elsewhere.
In fact, my media recession has been characterised by a general switch away from what you might call journalism (writing, subbing, page layout) to a more diverse range of work (CMS production, brochure design, animated web ads).
So what does this all mean for you? Are you struggling to keep following a more strictly defined path of journalism? Have you had to branch out into other areas and use new skills? Have you been forced to look for work in a call centre?
I’d really like to know. Feel free to share via the comments – or add your vote to the poll on the right.