“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Ben Franklin has numerous quotes that remain relevant throughout the ages, but it is this quote in particular that strikes a chord with me as I look around at the scores of writers in this post-brick-and-mortar era who continue to clamor how they don’t have any work, despite the fact that there are a global range of opportunities available. What it really boils down to, more than anything else, is that certain people have yet to grasp the simple fact that they must be willing to evolve and adapt if they want to survive. This means learning new ways of doing things, of accepting that their way isn’t the only way.
The traditional ways of doing things have long since passed. Outsourcing has long been a business method used by companies around the world to get cheap labor on things, but with the advent of the Internet this has spread outsourcing beyond simply the local pool, and into the realm of global. In short, there is no such thing as regionally local anymore. Global is the new local. Which means you are competing with a global pool of competitors. Writers who are just like you, who have the same education, the same job skills, the same relevant experience in the field…except they are willing to work for pennies in comparison to you because their cost of living is drastically lower than yours.
So how can you remain relevant in a time when it seems as though all the best work is being shipped out to writers in India, the Philippines or Indonesia? How can you overcome and adapt to the changes in the market flow so that you can continue making enough money to pay your bills and live the lifestyle you have become accustomed to over the years?
By being willing to learn new ways of doing things.
Global is the new local. Which means you have to learn how to market yourself on a global base. That means searching for work within a global community, not just simply typing in “freelance writing jobs” into Google and searching for the first 5 pages of results. This means getting creative with your job searches, using various search engines, learning a new language and looking at the markets in Europe, Asia and South America as well as within North America. It means broadening your horizons and realizing that you are not the be-all, end-all of writers simply because you are located in the Untied States and are a native English speaker.
Education matters. When I can hire someone from Argentina who has the same qualifications as someone from New York (5 years of experience, 4-6 year degree, and passable English), why would I want to hire the writer from New York when their rates are $80 an hour versus the writer in Argentina who only wants to charge me $15 an hour? I am more than willing to deal with English that might not be perfectly written the first time to save $50+ per hour in fees because the person has the knowledge I want to portray in the work. It’s simple business 101: save money to make money.
This is only one of the realities that you must learn to overcome, and that means evolving and adapting to the changes in the market if you want to remain relevant and put food on the table. You can’t blame the market for evolving and you can’t blame the writers in other countries for supposedly “stealing” your work. Instead, you need to look at yourself, self-evaluate, and ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong? What do I need to learn in order to overcome and adapt so that I’m not one of the ignorant?”
Stay tuned for more in our on-going series, Marketability in the 21st Century.