Ask Me Anything: Errors & Omissions Insurance and Looking for Work

Ashley Festa asks, how to begin looking for work as a freelancer.

Three words: marketing, marketing, marketing. Depending on the types of freelance projects you’re looking for, the shape of your marketing efforts can vary. There are plenty of options — in fact, there are at least 31 days worth of marketing projects you can tackle.

I’m a big believer that you have to have somewhere to send interested clients, like a website. Once that’s in place, the next step is discovering where your preferred types of gigs show up. I like blogging gigs more than anything else, so I take a look at job boards like ProBlogger‘s fairly regularly. I also have gotten to know the types of blogs that I like writing for pretty well, to the point where I’m comfortable sending the writers and editors emails.

No matter what kind of writing you want to do, though, don’t limit yourself to the job boards. The best writing jobs are never anywhere near a job board. It’s your connections who will bring you work, more often than not. Job boards should only be a starting point — a way to land some jobs as you build up the network you’ll need in the long run.

Susan Johnston asks,

I’d be interested in your take on errors & omissions insurance or media liability insurance. Necessary for freelance writers? Or necessary for certain types of writing? This came up with a client recently and I’d imagine this info would be useful to other writers, too. Thanks!

Most of my clients never ask about the insurance I cover. Typically, the ones who do are big companies, used to working with contractors who actually come on site to do work rather than freelance writers — and those clients ask about liability insurance. Freelance writers don’t really need liability insurance. It’s for situations where you or one of your employees injures yourself on a client’s property or otherwise does some damage. If you aren’t on their property, it’s not an issue.

Errors and omissions insurance can be a practical consideration for freelancers, though, even if our clients rarely ask about it. That’s because errors and omissions insurance specifically covers errors that we might make in completing a project for our clients. For example, if a copy writer puts together a tax advice site for a client, but includes material that leads to a reader irritating the IRS, the copy writer could be sued. Errors and omissions insurance takes care of the costs of resolving such a situation, including paying damages to that very displeased client.

If you have assets worth protecting — like a house and a thriving freelance writing business — getting the insurance is a good idea. The problem most writers will face is that it can be expensive to obtain. If you can’t afford it, don’t spend too much time stressing about it. Most freelancers don’t actually carry errors and omissions insurance. It’s more of a ‘nice to have’ sort of situation. If you can afford it, though, go for it.

Got a question about the business side of freelance writing? Send it my way and I’ll answer it here next week!