ELT Publishing Professionals – is it worth signing up?

A question I’ve been asked on LinkedIn by a writer (post for writers/editors, not publishers)…

Is it worth joining the ELT Publishing Professionals database? Anonymous

Bit fiddly to answer on LinkedIn, also the answer might be useful for others. So…

Answer: Overall, yes.

Why?

There are four main reasons to sign up to this database.

  • You get access to materials writing jobspots
  • You get to join a useful Facebook page
  • The opportunities are becoming more frequent – there’s certainly some momentum
  • Alternative ways to find work may mean investing more of your own time

Are there actually many jobspots?

Well, it’s not like there are writing/editing jobs on tap through the database. However, the opportunities are certainly becoming more frequent and more varied. Just recently, I’ve seen a couple of jobspots listed by lesser-known publishers. The bar is slightly lower for these roles – more suited to entry level writers (I can’t guarantee that gets you the work – depends who applies I guess). Big name publishers DO advertise through ELTPP, and applying for roles is very simple. There is definitely an element of ‘you’ve got nothing to lose’ in sending your details off, given it takes about 5-10 minutes to apply (after you’ve uploaded your profile, that is).

Personally, I have never taken a contract that was advertised through ELTPP. I’ve been offered two opportunities though – one of which I didn’t expect to be considered for based on experience. The trouble from my perspective is that I’m a full-time teacher, so I have to be careful what I take on (about 20 extra hours per week is my cut off at present, so I’m limited). However, if you’re looking for more substantial contracts as a full-time freelancer, well there are certainly some good opportunities.

What about the Facebook page?

If you’re starting out as a writer or just dipping your toe in the water, the FB page for ELTPP is particularly useful. It’s a place where you can ask anything you like about writing/editing – questions about contracts, conditions, upskilling, etc. You can learn a lot from this forum, and people on the page are supportive and non-judgemental. It’s also an opportunity to network with a community of like-minded professionals and put your name out there. Materials development is a small world.

If I don’t sign up to the database then how can I find work?

Oh, well ELTPP is not the be-all-and-end-all. There’s plenty of work around for writers/editors, but you just have to go looking for it. For example, I mentioned one possible avenue to explore in this post. There are alternatives to the database, but they can be time-consuming. Example:

About three months ago I had a dry spell (workwise, I mean…). I was doing my usual LinkedIn stuff – add editors, posting about materials writing for a bit of promo, generally making myself sound a lot better than I actually am, all that stuff. Nothing. Actually, I put in quite a bit of time, but didn’t get much from it. Then a jobspot came up on ELTPP. I applied and, just like that, they responded. Ultimately, it came to nothing, but that was more my choice. So, the database can be far less labour intensive than other options.

What are the downsides to joining the database?

Hmmm. Well, it’s hard to say this for sure… but ELTPP has the potential to be a victim of its own success. A couple of times a week you see a post of the FB page welcoming new members to the database. When you see some of the names… I mean, there are some big names joining the list now. Some very experienced writers. On the one hand, I’m like ‘ah cool, some good people to network with or learn from’, and on the other I’m like ‘ah great, well bang goes my chances of getting any contracts now, that writer will snap them all up’.

In reality though that’s not really the case. Just because a well-known writer signs up, doesn’t mean they’ll always get the contracts. Who knows, they might charge too much, they might be unavailable, whatever. There are plenty of opportunities to go around. Plus, as I said, writing is a small world and it doesn’t really seem like a competitive one. I’ve passed on work to others, others have passed on possible work to me. Basically, don’t feel intimidated by other writers, see them as a support network and sometimes even a route to finding opportunities!

Overall, there aren’t really downsides to joining the database, not given the relatively small investment. If you’re full-time freelancing I’d say it’s a no brainer. If you’re new to writing it’s worth it because you get to learn a bit about the industry, the type of work available, etc. If, like me, you’re a full-time teacher with time constraints, you might/might not benefit from the jobspots, but you’ll certainly benefit from the networking and discussion.

Hope that helps. Wow, quickest blog post EVER! Excuse spelling and grammar mistakes!

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