Over and over again writers working to solve their freelance writer business problems complain that they get no response at all from their applications for freelance writing work. I know this because I get complaints and questions from writers, often saying they’ve sent out maybe a hundred or so response or applications for freelance writing jobs and heard nothing back, nothing at all.
Sure it can be frustrating, particularly when you’re working to find a gig online, but you need to know a couple of things.
The first thing to know is that any job for writers listed online is apt to get literally hundreds of emailed applications.
The second thing to know is that most of those applications won’t get a second look because they don’t show how they can solve the problem the poster has that results in needing a writer.
Here’s what one employer told me recently:
I had the ad up for a freelance writing job less than 12 hours and got so many applications I took it down. As I read through the emails I realized that many really good writers had responded. I mean they had excellent resumes and it was obvious that they could write. What wasn’t obvious was that they could write for me. I had spelled out pretty precisely what kind of writing I needed, and very few respondents addressed that need directly. The one I hired was the one who demonstrated with a short sample, right in the email, how he could solve my problem. We’ve been working together now for almost a year.
Within this statement are the three secrets you need to know when you’re responding to a freelance writing job ad.
Even a great resume won’t land you the gig
Even if you’ve got the greatest writing resume in the world, it won’t land you the freelance writing job you want if that’s all you offer. That’s because the person who posted the ad doesn’t want just a good writer, they want one they believe can solve their writing problem. They care less that you’ve won awards and much more that you can generate the kind of white paper or sales copy they need.
Admittedly many ads for writers don’t define the problem clearly. The ad may say something like copywriter, or blog post without giving you much more than that.
You get to play detective. Someone asking for copywriting is trying to sell a product or service – demonstrate you know how to write sales copy. If they want a blog post, show them several different kinds of blog posts you’ve written.
You get the idea – guess what their problem is if it isn’t clear, and show how you can solve it.
Respond showing how you can solve that problem
Show them exactly how you can solve their problem. If they want ads written, make up two or three bogus, but well written ads and respond with those. If they want SEO writing done, show how you can write well using search engine terms and phrases.
Don’t expect them to answer any questions – they won’t answer because they don’t need to – and you simply have to accept that. Just read the ad carefully, make your best guess, demonstrate your solution and move on. The time to ask questions is after they contact you.
Showing them can include links to published work, samples or partial samples pasted into the body of your email, samples and partial samples sent as a .pdf file, etc. Your website can also demonstrate the kinds of problems your writing has solved – even if you end up making up a sample or two.
Wait! Before you send anything out, read the next section, maybe twice.
You have to follow the instructions
You may be getting tired of hearing me say this, but it’s critical and something that so many writers ignore. You’ve simply got to follow the instructions when you apply for a freelance writing job. Probably the instruction that gets ignored the most is the one that tells you they will not accept attachments or they will only accept attachments in a particular file format.
Sure, this can be a pain for you, but if they won’t accept attachments that means you’ll have to paste your sample into the body of the email. Ugly? Yes. You can sometimes make it look a bit better by sending it to yourself first and editing, but don’t spend a ton of time on it – they know how they want it and won’t be surprised by the way it looks.
If they want a certain file format, save a copy that way – you can, for example, save newer Word files as .pdfs – look in your save as menu.
And if they ask you to snail mail your application, do so, or ignore the gig.
You can solve your own freelance writer business problems by applying for freelance writing jobs in ways that are most likely to succeed. Make these three suggestions your rules when you’re looking for a writing gig.
What’s been your experience applying for freelance writing jobs?
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Write well and often,
Image: by Marinela Prodan