7 Ways Freelancers Can Ease The Move From One Site To Another

Filed as Guides on March 5, 2009 2:59 am

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In my daily scavenger hunt for good reads and interesting stories, I came across two stories by Nicholas Carlson. He used to write for Gawker Media’s Valleywag, now defunct in effect and the brand is now a part of the main Gawker site. These days he’s on Silicon Alley Insider, and by the looks of it he’s having a hard time transitioning in the eyes of the readers.

Comments like

Don’t worry commentors, I got this one:

Carlson! Enuff w/ the Gawker, they’re not taking you back.

and

aside the gawker ass lick this is a pretty on point article.

as well as

Dude get off of Dentons dick. Its like you feel if you kiss his ass enough he’ll hire you. You are a joke Nick.

I don’t know how Henry puts up with your shit bro. Maybe you work for little money.

are all among the first thing people write on the two stories I read.

Pretty harsh words, and rude language at that. Some are less offensive, and other comments on the posts in question are both valid and constructive. However, this points out how hard it is to move from one site to another. People expect things, people believe things about you, and people attribute loyalty that might not be there. Luckily, you can tackle that.

These are the things you need to keep in mind on your new gig, when moving from a high profile site or writing job. There are more, of course, and some are probably fairly unique to the sites in question, but still.

In no particular order, consider these things:

  • Huge leaps are easier. If you’re a profile in the biking community, moving to knitting probably won’t expose you to angry mobs of trolling commenters that know you from your previous gig.
  • Small site to big is tricky. If you’re writing on a small site, and a larger leading one brings you onboard, it’ll look like a sellout and might get rancid comments. This can be the other way around too, though, since your readership might be happy for your step up the ladder, it all depends on the tone between the sites in question, and their readerships.
  • Starting something new is usually OK. You can get away with leaving a site to do your own if you’re careful and don’t air a lot of drama around the move. Being an entrepreneur is usually OK in the eyes of the readers.
  • Disclose everything. If you’re writing about something close to your previous position, disclose it properly and be overly cynical when reading it through yourself. Ideally, you’ll let a colleague cover the story, but we don’t always have that luxury.
  • Consider your personal brand. You might want to be careful jumping around between competitors all the time. Do you want to be known as that guy who writes everywhere with no loyalties?
  • Be open about it. So you’re going to move from one site to another. Then tell the readers why, either with your former employer’s permission, on the new site if it fits, or on your personal blog. Be open and honest about it, and try to make it sound as reasonable as it probably is to you. That might cool off some hotheads out there.
  • Play it safe. At first, I should add. This is common sense really, when you start writing at a new site, be sure to play by the rules, communicate with the staff, and do everything the way they want it. Make yourself a part of the editorial staff before starting to change it from the inside.

What are your experiences in moving between sites? Share your tips for freelancers in the comments.

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  1. By Andy Merrett posted on March 6, 2009 at 2:31 am
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    Interesting. I’ve recently moved across to a few new sites and left others, but I’m obviously not a big enough voice or the readers are polite enough that I’ve not been targeted in this way. Mind you, I’ve noticed (as a stereotype) that gossip sites receive even more snarky comments than do tech sites, so that probably has something to do with it.

    Your point about considering personal brand is interesting. I try not to jump around too much, but obviously as a freelancer there’s some element of having to go where the money is. In the offline world there are a number of freelancers who will write periodically for a number of different publications — still, there’s no easy method of direct reader feedback in the print medium.

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  2. By Thord Daniel Hedengren posted on March 6, 2009 at 4:03 am
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    I don’t think this really applies to the offline world because of the lack of direct communication. When you don’t have that, I’d say the strong feelings that sometimes comes with the readerships online just won’t be there. Although they can of course.

    The key to wether this is an issue or not is probably what kind of sites you’re writing for. Gossip has another voice and feel than, for instance the Blog Herald.

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  3. By Cashmere posted on March 6, 2009 at 10:46 pm
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    Personally I have not moved from site to site, but I do visit many sites. And offensive webmasters are never appreciated. You might be the expert but that should make you wise not arrogant.

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  4. By white tea posted on March 14, 2009 at 5:50 am
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    the way people communicate is so different that in the absence of all the right tones and pitches the same words may convey a meaning different from what was originally intended.

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