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PostPosted: February 13th, 2009, 8:13 pm 
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Joined: October 24th, 2003, 11:34 am
Posts: 781
Location: Portland, Oregon
So, I am a freelance copywriter in the pharmaceutical industry. Been doing this for about 13, 14 years, always very busy. My calendar would fill up 3 months in advance, sometimes 6 months. This time last year I was turning stuff down left and right because I just couldn't take on any more.

Now, I have nothing. Most of my clients have been laid off, or their companies -- some places among my very first freelance clients -- have gone completely out of business. I have been going through every contact I have ever had -- including people I swore I would never work with again -- trying to find something. Nothing. Contacting every pharma writing house large and small. Nothing. A lot of people have expressed interest in my samples, but no one has any work. I always planned for the contingency of losing one, two, even 3 clients. But I never planned for the contingecy of losing nearly every single one within a single quarter.

So, I'm wondering if there are other copywriters here and what their experiences have been. I freelanced through the last couple of recessions and never had a problem. In fact, they were probably good for my business because places fired their in-house writers and contracted everything out.

So how are you surviving the Great Depression of 2009?

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PostPosted: February 14th, 2009, 2:34 am 
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Joined: June 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm
Posts: 606
Harry, I've had one major client for the past seven years...a Fortune 100 company. They had kept me too busy to look for other work, until the fourth quarter of '08. Beginning last October, they started cutting all my estimates by 20%, and the work slowed from a steady stream to a trickle. Since the beginning of the year, I've had two small projects from them. They're telling me their budgets have been slashed, and they won't be launching any new products in '09. This will be the first year I won't be involved in a new product launch for them.

Like you, I've been calling all my old contacts...nothing. Other freelancers in town are seeing their work drying up, too.

I've joined LinkedIn, and I'm hoping that will open some new doors.

Nancy

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PostPosted: February 15th, 2009, 1:45 pm 
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Joined: October 24th, 2003, 11:34 am
Posts: 781
Location: Portland, Oregon
It's always such a tempation to get tied up with one client, isn't it? And then when you lose them, you have nothing. I have wound up in that situation more than once over the years.

I have used linkedin for awhile. It has been a pretty good resource, but now it is mainly helping me to keep track of all of my editors and clients who have been laid off.

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PostPosted: February 16th, 2009, 11:57 am 
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Joined: June 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm
Posts: 606
This is my 25th year as a full-time freelance writer, and I knew the perils of "putting all my eggs in one basket," but it was a situation in which I had the choice of either letting this client monopolize my time or losing them altogether. (They're not used to hearing the word "no," and they have a long line of freelancers who would love to work with them.)

RE: LinkedIn...I was listening to Kim Komando's show this weekend, and she says that more and more recruiters are using LinkedIn as a resource for finding new talent. She strongly recommends updating your profile there, to the 100% level, and expanding your Connections. She said most jobs/projects actually come from your 2nd and 3rd tiers rather than from your 1st tier Connections.

Nancy

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2009, 10:23 am 
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Joined: June 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm
Posts: 606
Harry, I was just on LinkedIn and found this group that you might be interested in joining, if you're not already a member:


Biotech & Pharma Professionals Network

With 39,000+ members, we are the most active LI group in Life Science. We have an active Forum and welcome folk in diagnostics, devices, clinical trials, research, QA, academics, writers, job hunters, recruiters, and anyone interested. If you join, plan to support other members.

Best,
Nancy

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2009, 4:56 pm 
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Joined: October 24th, 2003, 11:34 am
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Location: Portland, Oregon
Thanks Nancy, I am actually a member of that group already.

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2009, 4:57 pm 
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Joined: October 24th, 2003, 11:34 am
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Location: Portland, Oregon
Thanks Nancy, I am actually a member of that group already.

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"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

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PostPosted: February 18th, 2009, 10:14 am 
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Joined: February 17th, 2009, 9:09 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Lansing, MI
HI there, I joined this forum specifically because of this post. So far, I have not seen a slow down IN JOBS AVAILABLE, but I have seen a couple of my clients take a hit. One got bought out and let go of all ICs, and another significantly reduced their pay formulas. I'm scared, but not too much, yet, since there are just STILL so many postings.

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PostPosted: February 18th, 2009, 12:10 pm 
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Joined: April 2nd, 2004, 2:54 pm
Posts: 58
I've found LInkedIn helps keep doors open with editors who have moved on and people you work with once or twice. Interesting what you heard about most jobs coming from your 2nd and 3rd connections.

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PostPosted: February 18th, 2009, 1:08 pm 
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Joined: June 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm
Posts: 606
I found a local designer in my 2nd tier on LinkedIn who has been in business almost as long as I have. Last week I sent her an email asking if she's open to working with new copywriters. She wrote me back yesterday, and we now have an appointment to meet for coffee and a mutual show-and-tell on March 13th. :-)

Nancy

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PostPosted: February 18th, 2009, 1:30 pm 
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Joined: April 2nd, 2004, 2:54 pm
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That's great Nancy! I'm glad you mentioned this, now I'm motivated to look a bit deeper at my connections.
I hope your meeting goes well.

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 6:40 am 
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Thanks, Fred! I'll let you know how it goes.

Nancy

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PostPosted: March 14th, 2009, 12:18 pm 
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Joined: June 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm
Posts: 606
Well, I met with the designer I found on LinkedIn yesterday. We had a nice chat. She liked my samples and said she'd love to work with me...if she had some work. (Sigh) But who knows what might open up in the future?

She did give me one lead...another designer who produces "view books" (big, glossy, marketing brochures for colleges) exclusively. I had one in my portfolio that I wrote many years ago, and that made her think of this guy. I'll be contacting him on Monday.

Nancy

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 Post subject: Low In Work
PostPosted: March 15th, 2009, 4:28 pm 
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Joined: February 6th, 2003, 7:41 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Bronx, NY
I've been reading everyone's comments and I have to admit, my business is drying up as well. I was looking at Craigslist.com, Elance.com, Guru.com, and many other places. I noticed that on Elance, most of the jobs have budgets that used to be $1000 and over are now $500 and under. I talked to one buyer, who told me that since the recession, their budget has been cut. They still need the writing done, but just can't pay as much.

I talked to a friend of mine who told me I may just have to go after low paying work for now and work faster, to make enough money, till the economy improves. I was also told we are going into a depression by the end of the year, and when that happens, most of America will not be working. This will mean an increase in welfare, homelessness, and crime. I was told that if the depression does hit, no one will be working. I hope that is not the case.

Thanks for the tip about LinkedIn. I'll look into it.

Harry

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PostPosted: March 15th, 2009, 9:49 pm 
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Joined: June 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm
Posts: 606
Harry,

I believe in being a realist and looking at things as they are, but I think there's a real danger in becoming too pessimistic about the current and near-future economic situation.

Even if the unemployment rate hit 20%, that would mean that 80% of the people were still working. And freelancers traditionally do well in times when full-time employees are getting laid off. Companies may be hesitant to hire freelancers right now, because of the massive amount of economic uncertainty, but eventually the projects they're putting on hold will have to be done. And we'll be ready to do them.

Try to stay positive, and develop new contacts any way you can. Don't let all the doom-and-gloom become a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Best of luck,
Nancy

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