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
The concept of a media interview is simple. One person asks the questions, the other person answers them. In today’s media, with handlers, PR people and media savvy (and weary) interview subjects, interviews can get a bit more difficult to manage and if you’re not careful it can get away from you.
Who’s asking the questions here? If you find yourself talking more than listening – you are in trouble. It’s okay for an interviewee to be interested in your background or publication, but honestly your life story is not that interesting. It’s a distraction to the reason why you’re there.
Yes, yes, you’re fabulous… Flattery will get you everything, including softball questions from an interviewer. Let’s not let your self-esteem get in the way of the questions – make friends some other time.
Whoa, what was the question again? One minute your subject is talking about social media techniques, the next minute they’re talking about pruning bushes and grandma’s 80th birthday party. Keep your subject on task and on topic.
Freebies are not free. Journalists are trained not to take anything free from a interview subject. Better to die of thirst while interviewing a sub-Saharan crab than to take a drink of free water that could impair your impartial status. Bloggers are often less rigid, but know that those freebies for ‘review’ may come with strings and taint your interview.
No take backs. Subjects that want something off the record should say it before they drop the information. If they try to take something back you need to put them on notice that they missed their opportunity. Sounds harsh, but an interview full of take backs is frustrating and manipulative.
I wanna see first. Interview subjects often try to get the questions ahead of time, for pre-approval or whatever and it’s a sure way to kill an interview. It invites push back before you ever get started and obviously you lose any real spontaneity in the interview.
Let me take a peek. Your notes, your article and your recordings are yours. Unless you want to spend the next several weeks getting changes and tweaks from the subject, never reveal your notes, article, etc. until the piece is published.
There are more out there – share your tips on how to lose control of an interview below!
This week’s Monday Markets include a magazine for Canadian aviation enthusiasts, one that speaks to women between the ages of 40-59, and one that is all about the environment. I am always surprised by the variety of publications that are on the market. It seems like just about any niche you can think of has a magazine devoted to it.
From the Web Site:
We buy features and contributions to our departments. Rates vary with the amount of revision required per manuscript, and whether or not the photography is strong enough to justify a color spread. Features run up to 2,000 words and include color photos. Departments run 800 to 1,000 words.
Sometimes we will buy longer pieces and break them into two or three episodes, but usually longer pieces are commissioned because, in our opinion, the idea deserves a longer discussion than we can provide in a single issue. Usually, whatever can be said in 10,000 words can be improved by cutting it to 2,500 words. Often, what’s been written in 2,500 words will work in 1,500, and in the hands of a good writer can be told in 500 or less.
We do not pay by the word because it just encourages longer pieces. Write tight, write short, write with the reader in mind, write to inform, write to entertain. We also buy short (50 to 250-word) current news items (current events, ATAC and other aviation event updates, trade news, people news, contests, banquets, fly-ins and festivities).
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 hope your weekend was as productive as mine! I did some blogging, some writing and cleaned and organized my entire kitchen. I find that when I get my family and household obligations out of the way, I don’t feel guilty when I want to spend my downtime doing things like finding leads for your next blog post, or writing my second ebook.
Here’s what’s going on around the Freelance Writing Jobs network of blogs: [Read more…]
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?
Most of the time when you’re interviewing a source you don’t want to ask yes or no questions. Nothing kills a interview faster than a transcript full of ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ and ‘I don’t know’s.’ There are times, however, when a yes/no question is both useful and necessary. The key is the follow up.
Often a good interview subject will answer the question and then elaborate on why they feel that way. If they don’t it’s up to you to ask them to give more detail. How you do it is important.
For example, say you’re interviewing a politician who has an opposition to the proposed new budget:
You: “Do you think the new budget will positively impact the city?”
Several follow-up questions could be asked here:
- What would you like to see eliminated/added?
- Do you have a better plan that would work in the current economic environment?
- Are the issues you have with the proposed budget deal breakers or is there room for compromise?
Following up a yes/no question takes a bit of thought, but it allows you both to go deeper into the subject in a variety of ways. A simple question can open the door to so much more.
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.
The other day, I reviewed a copy of “Kick-Ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps.” I recommend the book because I feel it will empower many writers to get out of the low paying freelance writing rut. In fact, we’re going to have a contest to help us do just that.
Author Susan Guenelius has generously offered a signed copy of her book to give to a lucky member of the FWJ community. Could that be you?
For the next week, I’d like you to discuss ways to get out of the low paying freelance writing rut. In fact, I want to know how YOU plan on doing so. Write a blog post, record a video, sing a song, start a forum topic, offer a tweet… do something creative to discuss with me, and others, how you can change your current situation and find higher paying opportunities. Then come back and post the link here in the comments so we can all see it.
The contest ends a week from today, Wednesday April 8th, at 11:59 p.m. Good luck, and I can’t wait to see how you’re going to break out of the freelance writing rut.