Pitching is the new commute

I’m finding the hardest thing about freelancing is pitching. Regularly.

I have all the ideas in the world – they’re not all good, obviously. But when I think of the infinite number of publications out there that could possibly take any of those ideas, and how I could adapt it for several different publications if I was organised enough, it’s often overwhelming – and crafting a good pitch is an art, and takes time, and research. And yet all that – all that is part of the dream. It’s fun, it’s creative, the endless possibilities are inspiring, and you love that response.

But what I’m finding hard about it; it’s uncertain, it’s work-intensive, I risk rejection (without any constructive criticism) and even if they do accept it, it might be changed and revised beyond recognition or the pressure starts when they give the commission and then it could be pulled, or not published (and therefore not paid) or the rejection could come at the end of all the work, rather than at the beginning (and without any constructive criticism).

In short, it’s unpaid work. And potentially pointless; if there’s no results, it means I have no work, and I am left with doubts and tumbleweed.

Sure, risk it, for the biscuit. If I don’t try, I don’t get. But I am talking about the very real possibility that I put all that work in, and nothing comes of it – if I’m endlessly pitching and nothing is good enough (for those companies, for whatever reason) then, am I still working? Am I still a freelancer? Do I still exist?

The equivalent in a normal job.

So, the way I have reconciled this in my brain.

The work of pitching (which includes coming up with ideas, researching publications, reading news and anything else) would be, if I was working in a role for a company, the equivalent of the commute.

So, say in London (where I happen to be based) I don’t get paid for commuting on the London Underground for an hour each way. The office doesn’t value that time; there is no reward for hacking it or doing a ‘good commute’ (whatever that means). Essentially, a boss doesn’t care how you get there, they just care that you do get there.

As for the risk of rejection? If you’re late, you could lose your job. (Equivalent: if I don’t pitch, or don’t pitch in time, I could lose my work).

But it gets you (to) work.

In fact, that gives me an idea to frame it. I could aim to pitch (think of ideas, research companies and read news, etc) for an hour each way. One hour before work, one hour at the end. It could help to see which time of the day I’m better at it – and it becomes a habit. And it is the most important part of freelancing – which is why it’s the hardest. Without pitching, without setting your own ideas and agenda, you are nothing. You don’t exist as a freelancer.

(Which, by the way, is fine – freelancing what works for me right now, and I’m committed to it because it improves my skills. I also apply for roles where I can apply those skills. Here’s my CV on LinkedIn if you’re interested in a journalist/marketing/research type.)

 

Evernote vs Dropbox: for freelance journalism

Evernote vs Dropbox:

Organising my freelance journalism work flow

Mission:

I needed to store and find/search easily: recordings, notes, saved web pages, sources and other research.

I needed to store my written notes, ideas and questions, and tags across topics and publications are especially useful.

I already use Wunderlist so something easy to integrate and share to sync my research and notes, with my to do’s and progress, would be ideal.

 

Evernote – I used to use it 2-3 years ago and stopped. (I got into the bad habit of saving web pages to bookmarks and ideas all over the place – and not doing journalism). I am a hoarder of web pages, videos and anything and everything that gives me a light bulb moment of insight or an idea that I must do at some point in the future (and might not – my ideas list is pretty cluttered at most times, and when I see them, then I get overwhelmed and procrastinate and want to consume shiny new things for new ideas instead – it’s why I like Pinterest, and why I write and draw lots but don’t manage massive projects…!)

Now I’m embarking on bigger pieces I REALLY need a better system. And Evernote seems perfect for journalists.

So today as I was happily rocking to music and uploading ALL articles and scribbles (the typed ones) and crap from disparate – and insightful – sources, I suddenly had a panic.

The whole purpose is to access and ensure these parts are accountable and safe – and I had no idea how secure it was.

Not just from the outside. But for me.  

And not just because I might get hacked – that’s a matter of online security and if there’s a hole there, I only have myself to blame, and I am pretty solid on that – but…. what happens if Evernote disappears? Goes bust? Moves everything from one cloud to another cloud and it all falls to Earth? I mean, anything is possible, right?

This forum thread only exacerbated my fears of these realistic worst case scenarios that people are convinced about. https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/65776-what-happens-to-my-notes-if-evernote-goes-bust/?page=2

All businesses die. Everything dies! And it’s somewhat mirrored my own tendency to give up on systems – why wouldn’t they give up on me?! If I’m about to put my entire freelancing system onto Evernote I don’t want to wake up one day to find a repeat of Megaupload.

I am concerned about where to safely and confidently store all interviews, information and confidential sources – and new ideas – that I would rely on at any point in the future and it could be hugely important for legal reasons and for my own integrity. My own integrity would be down to this choice of software – so, kind of a biggie.

But I remembered that quiet and solid app I use without even noticing. Dropbox. Aren’t they the same? Just one is a bit more hip and millennial than the other?

So I delved into what the internet had to say about this. I found some clarity for myself and I hope it’s useful to you. (Plus I’m a bit of a productivity systems geek, and here’s my outlet.)

Initial picture in my head: Wunderlist = to do’s, checklists and project priorities and progress. Evernote = the actual files, notes, research and creation. And collaboration. Dropbox = shared access and standard for Word and PDF files (whereas a written Evernote file requires a copy and paste).

So, maybe Dropbox is better for writing in progress in a Word doc, while Evernote collates the research from the internet? I’d rather have everything in one place.

And in one place, capacity matters.

Evernote Basic (free) limits your note size to 25 MB and each month gives you 60 MB.

Dropbox Basic (free) doesn’t limit file size and gives you 2 GB free and you can earn up to 16 GB performing various tasks and syncs, but that’s the limit.

I wanted a nice way to think about it clearly (read: I never want to worry about this again, and just want to get on with pitching and creating loads of great stories and other projects with a seamless work flow system that I know is 100% accountable and I know where I can find anything if there’s a query)

Udemy split it quite nicely for me, and for those who like physical, stationery equivalents for their software:

Evernote = “the sticky notes of the modern age” / Dropbox = “the filing cabinet”

Who even has these anymore? Source: Morgue File

Who even has these anymore?

Best of all was Michael Hyatt’s consolidation of all the major pros and cons:

Evernote = storing the written word with easy search and editing. Word, Excel and Powerpoint files can be stored but not transformed/edited inside Evernote.

Dropbox = store software, big files, photos, code etc… everything else

So then, I would use Wunderlist for the checklist, to do’s and project management and schedule, clip research, sort it and write my stuff in Evernote, and put the finished product (or the next stages e.g. video) into Dropbox – for attachments.

I use Wunderlist for specifically actionable tasks; to do’s, priorities, deadlines, schedules and reminders. While Wunderlist does easily clip and save and order anything, I want that app to be as specific and decluttered as possible (not very, most of the time – and that’s the point).

 

 

Data security:

Evernote’s Three Laws of Data Protection

https://www.dropbox.com/en/help/27

Dropbox vs Evernote on security