Why Archiving Your Freelance Work Matters
By now, you’ve probably heard of the abrupt shutdown of DNAinfo and Gothamist websites, along with their sister sites in other cities. If you haven’t, it was quite the debacle.
About a week ago, reporters at the two local news sites voted to join the Writers Guild of America. And on Nov. 2, Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade and founder of DNAinfo, closed the sites following the union vote, according to The New York Times.
I, a freelancer for DNAinfo Chicago, heard the news along with the rest of the country. And like the rest of the staffers and contributors, I discovered that all my clips were inaccessible. In their place was a note from Ricketts himself. Six pages of work—gone.
Though the site has been restored—for how long, I’m not sure—news of the site felt like a punch in the chest. It felt like a death of a close friend. I spent that evening desperately trying to PDF as many of my clips as I could, but not all of them were available on the Wayback Machine.
I’m taking this moment as an important lesson for me and all other freelancers: archive your work. Here are some ways to do so digitally or physically:
Keep several copies of your print work.
Buy a few copies of your printed work, and keep them in a cool, dry place. I have a metal file cabinet that’s fire resistant. You might want to consider framing or laminating your print copies so they’re protected from water damage.
Scan and save digital copies.
Scan printed copies to save in the cloud and/or in a physical USB drive. That way if the physical copies are damaged, you’ll have another backup. You can also save PDFs of your online work. If you don't have a scanner or printer/scanner combo, you could also use the free iScanner app, which uses your iPhone/iPod camera to take photos and make images look like they were scanned.
Use online archival sites.
You’ve worked really hard on your work. Don’t let anyone take it away. Back up early and often.
What are your tips for saving your work? Tell me in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.