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09 – Freelance Writer Business Problems – Why Will They Hire You?

job application 2You want to get hired to write, which is natural enough. But you know, from experience, that landing a freelance writing job isn’t easy.

Chances are you’ve applied for at least a few. Maybe you found them on Craigslist or through the job list here. You sent off an email describing your skills and they dropped into a black hole; you never hear back from anyone, even with a ‘no!’

You’re wondering if you’re wrong about your freelance writing ability and you question your desire to write for a living, or at least earn some money.

While it’s true that getting hired to write isn’t easy, it’s not impossible either. Sometimes all it takes is a shift in attitude.

Walk in their shoes

Before you send off another query or writing job application, try this exercise:

Pretend you’re the prospective employer. Now, in the make believe role, ask yourself why they should hire you? What, if you were hiring a write, would you want from them? Go ahead, make a list. It probably looks something like this:

I want a writer who:

  • Knows something about my business, or at least is willing to learn.
  • Has clips, maybe on a website, that demonstrates they can write well.
  • Offers several references about both their ability to write and their general trustworthiness.
  • Will make agreed upon deadlines.
  • Is willing to edit their work at my instruction.
  • Feels to me they can and will really put my interests at heart.
  • I think can do the job I need done.
  • Demonstrates their interest in solving my problem.

The chances are you’ve got everything except, maybe, number one. And even if you’ve never heard of the kind of widgets they’re trying to sell, you’re willing to learn about them, aren’t you?

When you write a list like this, what you’re doing is figuring out how to be of service to the client, how to solve their problem. If, in your response to their ad, you somehow show them you have some understanding of what they need, and you can fill that need you’re much closer to getting hired as their writer.

But what about your problems?

I can almost hear at least a few of you saying, “but what about me? I need to get hired; I need a paycheck; I need to know they at least got my application…”

All those things are true, except you don’t really need to know if they got your application. And I’ve seen examples of would-be writers addressing everyone of those items and more in their application.

Here’s a truth:

The prospective employer does not care about you. They don’t care if you need a job or a paycheck. And they’ve gotten so many applications they haven’t got time to let you know yours arrived too. They don’t care because they’ve got their own problems and none of your needs address theirs.

If they hire you, they will be a bit more interested in you, but until at least the interview, until you convince them you can meet their needs and solve their writing problems, they just aren’t very interested.

Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t be concerned for yourself. Not at all. You should be – when you genuinely respect and care for yourself, you’re a better writer and a better business person to boot.

Okay, so how do I get hired to write?

You read the ad carefully and see if there is any reason, like pay, or unreasonable demands, that mean you should move on to the next one.

When you find one you think is ideal or close to ideal for you, read it again. Maybe make a note and plan to respond a bit later, after you’ve sifted through more ads.

As you read the ad, think about what problem they’re trying to solve by hiring a writer. More sales is a typical goal, providing information for some reason or other is another.

When you identify the problem you suspect, take a moment and think about how you would solve that problem. Now figure out how you can demonstrate you can solve that problem.

Maybe you’ve got credits that demonstrate you know just how to do… what they need. Or maybe you can write a short sample for them. Or maybe you’re struck with an idea that seems perfect; state it and show why, in a sentence or two, why you’re perfect to get hired to write for them.

Write your response as carefully as you’d write an article you were hired to write. Double and triple proof it. Let it rest for an hour, read it again and if it feels right, send it.

Continue to market yourself and your writing. Market from the heart; market from being of service.

You’ll never know why some don’t hire you. In fact, even if you ask, you probably won’t get a solid answer if you ask the person that gives you a gig why they did.  And it doesn’t matter – not in the long run.

What tips do you have about getting hired as a writer? Let’s talk about them in comments.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer





{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Mary

    I would want someone who proofreads their words–it’s “in the make believe ROLE,” not ROLL. Shame on you! Are there more mistakes? This “editor” didn’t bother to read any farther!

    • Sorry to offend you, Mary. You’re right, of course, about the typos.

  • Excellent advice, Anne -in the beginning, it’s about whether you can deliver what they need. That said, you need to keep your own needs in mind and make sure you get them met, too.

    • Yes, we do need to keep our own needs in mind, but I’ve seen a surprising number who keep only their own needs in mind, without seeming to pay much attention to what the client needs.

  • First and foremost, you have to believe you deserve to be hired. If you don’t believe in you and your writing, no one will hire you. Also, if you feel a sense of urgency, your desperation may push a client a way from you.

    Make sure you have a professional looking website, a variety of clips and a great “can do” attitude.

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