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How To Answer A Freelance Writing Wanted Ad And Get The Gig

Answer A Freelance Writing Wanted AdEver wonder why there are so many freelance writing jobs posted? It’s simply because companies of all sizes need freelance writers and don’t know any other way to find them.

Not only that, if you follow any of the better freelance writing job lists, over time you’ll see the same companies advertising again and again – sometimes for more writers and sometimes just to replace one.

If you doubt there are a ton out there, google writing jobs and see what you get.

Take a look down the right-hand side of Google’s first couple pages and you’ll see ads for companies that, usually for a fee, will help you find a freelance writing job. Don’t answer those. You really don’t need to pay to get work.

Of course not every listing you see in Google or any other search engines you use actually leads to a writing job but many of them do.

And that’s the point – there really is lots of freelance writing work out there.

Pick your lists carefully

There are lots of job lists out there. Some of them are pretty decent. I like mine but it’s certainly not the only one. Look through various job lists will you find two or three that seem to carry the kind of writing jobs you’d like to have.

If you have a narrow specialties such as a particular kind of health writing or you’re an expert in insurance or understand biotechnology, by all means look for those kinds of lists. Trade groups and trade magazines can be an excellent source for niche lists.

Read the ad carefully

I really want to write that subhead in huge letters. I know from my experience as an editor of both magazines and newspapers that most of the people applying for writing gigs apparently pay no attention to the ad. They send attachments when instructed not to, dig out phone numbers when asked not to call, and otherwise seem to ignore the ad almost entirely. That doesn’t work.

If you think the gig is one you want, read the ad again. You want to find out what kind of writing they want, some indication of pay, although specifics are often missing, and how they want you to respond to their ad. You need to pay attention to their instructions or your resume or cover letter or samples will end up deleted.

Prepare your response carefully

Generally the ad will indicate if they want an email response or if they want you to apply through a website. Either is okay and as your thinking about the job focus on what your perception of what they need. Your goal is to find a way to be of real service to them. If you show them you could solve their problem, you’ll at least get an interview and often you’ll get the job.

I tend answer a freelance writing wanted ad via email unless they want something else. I start my email responses pretty casually – something like: “Hi, I may be your writer,” or “Hello, I know how to write (whatever they are asking for.)”

Then I go down their list of requirements and explain briefly how I meet them.

I try to make it clear I understand their problem and show them how I can solve it.

When the ad is less than clear which often happens, I don’t ask questions, I just apply as best I can with the information given.

I usually end with a suggestion that we talk soon about the details, add my phone number and email address even though they are in my signature, sign it either “Sincerely” or “looking forward to talking with you,” and I any and with my first name or first initial.

I double check the email, comparing it to the ad, making sure I’ve covered all the bases, I also do my best to get rid of typos and long convoluted sentences.

I click send and move on.

I don’t expect a response

I don’t assume I’ll get a response from any particular advertiser. I know that anybody who places an ad for writer is likely to get hundreds if not thousands of responses. I don’t do any follow-up because I don’t think it’s worth my time. Even when I’m convinced on the best writer on the planet for that particular gig I don’t chase it.

I move on down the list and keep applying for the writing jobs I think I want. When I’m in job hunting mode I do this every day. When I think I have enough work I do it weekly – it’s part of how I market my writing.

I keep promising myself I’ll keep track of what percentage of responses I get back and I haven’t done it. I probably never will; it’s one of those great ideas that is likely to happen. But I do get plenty of gigs this way. I’m only apply to jobs I know I can do, and if there’s any indication of pay I won’t apply if it looks like the job is way under my hourly rate.

When I’m in check-jobs-daily mode I generally find only four or five during the week that I apply for. I’m really picky. You probably should be too.

What’s your approach to answering ads?


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Write well and often,





{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Tina

    Thanks for the great article!

    What would you recommend to do in this case:
    An editor gets back to you, sounding interested and suggesting tweaks to your idea. Within 24 hours you get back to them with more research and a fresh outline, incorporating their feedback. Then you don’t hear from them for over a week.
    Is it worth following up at this point?

    • Tina, you don’t see what kind of publication, but it could be the editor is or was on deadline… which often means chaos… by all means followup.

  • I think you need to double check 🙂

    6th para., under ‘Prepare your response’
    “…and I any and with my first name or first initial.”

    (Feel free to delete this message.)

    • good eye… am now dictating rather than typing and I’ve yet to master proofing for that…

  • Linda

    Thank you for this very helpful info. I made a checklist to go through before hitting “send”, I’m thinking this can help organize my response and give me the best chance at getting the job.

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