Even for the best writers, a piece of work is an effort of some variety. Time and thought are put into even the most inane 300-worder, so sending it off into the nether without anything to remember it by seems like wasted effort. Turns of phrase, research and other article-specific work may come in handy for a future project that deals with the same subject – although a writer should obviously never “lift” his or her own work for a second project. In addition to being a great reference guide to other articles, keeping completed work around makes showing a client what you’re capable of super simple.
Those that have read the 2nd chapter of The Freelance Writer Guide on this site already know my fangirl-like tendencies when it comes to Gmail. This free email service is internet-based, powered by Google and eminently searchable when it comes to finding an old email. I very strongly recommend that any new writer get their own Gmail account and start making judicious use of it. The best way to do this is before submitting any piece you’ve completed, send an email to yourself with the article’s subject and a certain unique code in the subject line – “Underwater Basketweaving / Portfolio Fodder”, ” Tragic Badger Karaoke / #Article”, “Platypus Rituals / Pastwork” – whatever works for you and is easy to remember. When tinkering with your portfolio or digging up a piece to show a potential client, all you have to do is search your Gmail inbox with your code word or phrase and you’ll have a chronological list of everything you’ve ever written.
A Picture of a Thousand Words
When using past work to audition for new clients, especially on “bid sites” like Freelancer.com and Odesk.com, I also very strongly recommend that you send an image of your article in lieu of a format like MS Word. Unfortunately, these sites are rife with unscrupulous overseas competitors that not only don’t have the job opening they’re posting, but want to steal and re-use your work as well, even if it’s already been sold to a client.
To make this image:
- Open your Gmail email or an MS Word document of the article
- Hold the ctrl key down and hit the print screen key.
- Open up MS Paint
- Within MS Paint, hold the ctrl key down, then tap the v key. (This will paste a “snapshot” of your entire screen – including the article – in the Paint program.)
- From here, just crop it down to show only the article text and save the cropped image.
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope these tips help you as a writer! Please feel free to add this blog to your reader via the RSS link above for more writer shortcuts and suggestions.