One of the questions I’m often asked while interviewing – or even just filling out online applications – for freelance, contract or full-time jobs is to show examples of work I’ve done. My resume talks about the freelance blogging I’ve done and the client ghostwriting that makes up part of my relevant experience. While I can point to some work on Adweek and other outlets, much of my online writing history has been erased from existence.
AdJab was deleted from the internet entirely about a year after the site was shut down by new owners Aol, which also eventually folded Cinematical into Moviefone and did a content purge. Same goes for TV Squad, another part of the former Weblogs Inc network. MarketingVox stopped publishing in 2014, long after I’d ceased writing there and I found that links I’d saved to my posts no longer work.
Many of the blogs I’ve contributed to or helped with the strategy for, including the Bacon’s Blog I started in 2005 and client blogs I ghostwrote for, have been similarly removed because of changes in business models or marketing strategies at those companies.
Even if content hasn’t been deleted it can be hard to point to concrete examples of the work I’ve done. “Well I don’t have one great link but if you go back and read any of the updates on (inserts name of social network profile) from July 2011 to December 2015, that’s my work.” That’s not a great answer, even if I have the backed up copies of the editorial calendars that show my involvement.
All that adds up to a list of work accomplishments that I can’t 100% point to, despite almost all of it being online. My portfolio has many of my recent bylined pieces and ghostwriting client projects along with a handful of Voce/Porter Novelli blog posts I’m proud of and older stories that haven’t been deleted or otherwise altered. But there’s so much more that I could be showing off that might make a difference in some people’s decision whether or not to bring me on for a project or position.
I’ll take the blame for some of this. It’s on me that I wasn’t thinking ahead enough to back up copies of posts I was writing over the course of my career. But honestly, I figured this was the internet and it costs little to just keep something alive, even if it’s no longer active. I thought, naively, it would always be there.
My advice for any freelancer – or even anyone working in-house or at an agency – is to save your work. Save the posts, white papers and strategy decks you’re creating and take screenshots of it live. Create your own case studies of the programs you’re working on and update them regularly so when you need to, you can show them off on Slideshare or elsewhere. That’s the only way to future-proof your experience and may make the difference between finding your next job or muddling through a frustrating search knowing you’re qualified but not being able to provide solid examples. You don’t want to leave your ability to find work in someone else’s hands.