Looking for advice, we interviewed freelance guru Michelle Goodman, author of the brand new book, My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire. Every week she offers career advice at ABCNews.com. Today, she gives writers specific advice about surviving an untimely layoff, beginning with an initial checklist:
“Sign up for unemployment benefits right away; they can take a few weeks to kick in,” she explained.
“Figure out your health insurance situation immediately; if you can’t get on a partner’s plan and can’t afford COBRA (you probably can’t; it’s insanely expensive), make sure you continue your coverage through your professional association of choice, or comparison shop on your own through eHealthInsurance or an insurance broker. Don’t let your coverage lapse, unless you don’t mind dealing with a nasty pre-existing condition clause from whatever insurance company you wind up with later.”
Once those steps are completed, Goodman urged writers to start networking: “Talk to everyone you know socially and professionally right away to see if they have freelance or contractor needs you can help with. Send out a mass email saying that you’re in the market for interim (freelance, contract) and long-term work. Set up a website with a bio and work samples if you haven’t done so already. And if you don’t have a profile on a professional networking site like LinkedIn or Biznik, make one. Studies show that slowly but surely, companies are starting to use social networking sites to advertise job openings and recruit candidates.”
She concluded with some general advice: “Whether you freelance, contract, or take a staff gig, be willing to write about, edit, or manage content on topics that aren’t necessarily your first choice. Eating is always preferable to playing the prima donna. And finally, in professional circles, keep dissing your past boss or employer to a minimum.”