Cold seemed to be our theme one foggy November morning when Graham Lloyd, Denise Dash, Inge Zegel, Jean Abrahamson and I met for coffee and conversation about the challenges of finding contract work on the Island. Bottom line: it’s a tough market to crack, so you have to be committed to hang in for the long term.
The idea of cold calling certainly made us all shiver: none of us likes it, few of us do it, and it doesn’t even seem the best way to win over clients in Victoria. The writers present affirmed the popular wisdom that the way to break into any industry here is through word of mouth, and it takes two to four years to develop the kind of network that sets the phone ringing regularly, or at least gets your name recognized when you call.
It’s not an environment that really embraces networking or contract sharing either. People reported some cold shouldering over attempts at support or affiliation with other contractors. We have all, it seemed, met people here—not just (and by no means all) tech writers—who will not even say what they do or who their clients are.
Among other things, this kind of protectionism makes it difficult to research contracting rates to help us to avoid undercutting one another or over-pricing ourselves. Fees tend to be lower in Victoria, from what we can tell, and the decision-making processes by clients seem to move at the speed of glaciers.
We talked about networking opportunities and discussed some of the writing and/or tech-related organizations listed below. STC’s contractors’ Web site was praised by several as being a great way to build a profile through a professional organization.
We agreed that there is work and money enough to go round in Victoria, but it can be hard to tap into. Our advice to Island writers would be to go forth and meet as many people from as many different spheres as possible, and get your name and specializations known. One day it’ll all pay off…with a blizzard of work.
Any Island writers who’d like to meet up are welcome to get in touch. We’re game for more coffee meetings in the New Year.