While it’s true that finding work as a freelancer is partly a numbers game, it doesn’t mean that you should apply for every opportunity that you come across. Just like in the brick-and-mortar world, you have a better chance of being hired by a client if you can show that you are a good fit for the gig.
Archives for April 2009
Many potential clients ask to see samples of a freelance writer’s work as part of the application process. If you have been freelancing for a while, you have worked on numerous projects and can provide several samples when asked. When you are deciding which ones you should share with potential clients, how do you decide which ones to include?
I started freelance writing and blogging (though we didn’t call it that back then) in 2000. Which means, I ‘ve been doing this for close to a decade. In the time I’ve been online, I’ve seen it all. I’ve hired writers, worked for people who hired writers, and even critiqued resumes and cover letters for the folks who want to be hired by the people who hire writers. In short, I’ve seen it all. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert because I think the freelance writing world is currently evolving, but I’m confident I can compare awesome freelance writing job applications to some real clunkers. With that in mind I give you:
Top 10 Freelance Writing Job Application Mistakes
1. Not Proofreading: It should go without saying that any one seeking any job opportunity should proofread cover letters, resumes and writing samples not just once, but twice, thrice and however many more times to ensure there are no errors. If you need a second pair of eyes to go over your paperwork, ask a friend to help out.
2. Not Enough Information: I can’t tell you how many times I received cover letters saying only “My resume is attached”, “My experience speaks for itself”, and even “Google Me”. Don’t be that guy. You don’t want to rehash your resume but you don’t want your potential client to wonder who you are and why he should hire you either. Your cover letter, which is really your job application, should briefly touch on your career as well as a paragraph telling the employer why you’re the best candidate for the job.
3. Too Much Information: Even though you may be going for the sympathy vote, your client doesn’t need to know that you’re a work at home mom with eight kids or that you were just laid off from your job. The information on your introductory letter should be relevant to the job only. Your home situation could work against you. For instance, if you are a work at home mom with eight kids, your employer might feel your family will be too distracting for you to complete the task to the best of your ability. [Read more…]
I have a confession to make. I hate writing cover letters. Hate them with a passion. It would be so much easier if when applying for a freelance writing job if I could just send in my resume and samples with a note that says, “I can do this job. Please hire me.” Since it doesn’t work that way and prospective clients want to know something about the people who are offering to work for them, here is my take on how to write cover letters.
First Paragraph: Who Are You?
The first paragraph of the cover letter is where you introduce yourself. You tell the prospective client what opportunity you would like to be considered for, what kind of writing you have experience in, and how many years of experience you have.
If you are approaching a prospective client who is not currently advertising for writers, you need to be a bit more creative. You want to write an introduction that will capture their attention, and I will offer some suggestions for that in an upcoming post.
Second Paragraph: What Do You Bring to the Table?
Now, you explain why you are a good fit for this job. You can tell the prospective client about similar projects you have worked on, or explain that you have experience writing about the topic they want to have covered. This is the part of the letter where you explain that you have excellent technical skills (spelling and grammar) and that you take pride in turning in clean copy – on deadline, every time.
Third Paragraph: What is the Next Step?
Before you finish your letter, you want to make sure that the prospective client knows how to contact you, so make sure you include your e-mail address and/or phone number. If you plan to follow up yourself in a week or so, mention this in the letter and make note of the day (and time, if appropriate) that you will be doing so. Tell the reader that you look forward to hearing from them.
I find that breaking down the cover letter into three manageable sections makes them a little easier to write. What strategies do you use for writing your cover letters?
Do you hang onto your money? That can be good – and bad, especially for your freelance writing success.
The saying goes that you have to spend a dollar to make a dollar. That’s doubly true when it comes to business, and your business is freelance writing. Basically, if you want to do better than you are now, you need to let go a little of what you have.