Applying for online writing gigs is a writing talent all on its own. If you make a mistake you’re not kicking off this whole, “I can write for a living” deal very well. Because you’ll be sending your resume / work bio by email, you need to adjust it for the web. Following are some mistakes not to make when applying for an online writing gig – be it a blog or other website.
Mistakes when applying:
You cut and paste from Word or another doc. application: This can result in some funky formatting and make your email look unprofessional.
You attach your resume or bio: NEVER send attachments unless a potential client asks you to specifically do so. Most folks won’t open attachments, and some have them blocked. However, if you have pertinent clips what should you do? Cover it at the end with a quick, “Magazine clips are also available upon request.” Exchange “magazine clips” with business clips or what have you as needed.
You’re long-winded: Long winded isn’t even great on a paper resume, but it’s the kiss of death on a web resume. Web writing is partially about being succinct. If your resume / bio shows that you can’t be you’ve already gotten off on the wrong foot.
You make spelling, grammar, or other errors that ‘writers’ shouldn’t make: Come on now, I know you know this one. Don’t do it. Note though that web writing technique is different than other sorts of writing. Short blips in bullets are fine for a web resume.
You post the great resume wall of text: HIT ENTER! I’ll say it again… hit enter. I get emails from people who have questions about writing online, and that’s cool, but I don’t make it through half on them because my eyes don’t enjoy reading 60 lines+ of text in a row. Potential employers don’t want this either. Make your text skim-friendly. Note that some bold headings and bullets will help as well.
You leave the subject blank: In the subject should be the job title you’re applying for.
You include too many irrelevant facts: No one cares about your ceramic dog collection or the fact that you like creating scrapbooks in your spare time. Keep to the facts which one, keeps it skim-friendly, and two, keeps it focused.
WHEN TO BREAK THE RULE ABOVE…
- You say where you’re from (quickly) – this has landed me jobs because where you’re from is a good conversation starter.
- The potential client ASKS for some personal info.
- Your personal info actually relates to the gig. When I applied for a pregnancy blog I write for I did mention that I’d worked as a doula, went to college for nursing/midwifery, and went through childbirth myself, because it made me look more credible.
- You can say it all in a few sentences. Something quick, like, “On a personal note, in my free time I like music, Frisbee, and have an insane addiction to chocolate” can add a bit of personality to an otherwise blah resume, but you need to add this at the end, and do so for gigs that seem a little more casual.
You add in your entire educational career: Fact, none of the clients I have right now asked me about my education ever, in fact, over the span of my writing career almost no clients have asked – good thing too since I’ve got degrees in math and science, not writing. Education is less highly rated in the online writing world than experience and your clips are. Sometimes a client will ask and by all means include it. OR the info may add to your credibility (like holding an RN degree when applying for a health site) but otherwise, education info only takes up space.
You don’t include links to clips: If you don’t have online clips, start a blog. If you don’t want to start a blog, start your own website and post your clips there. Clients want to see your clips.
For more tips on applying for blogging and online writing gigs read:
- Applying for Blogging Jobs – Do You Need A Resume?
- Sample introduction letter for blogging and online writing gigs
- Applying for a Blogging Job: When to Blow Off Directions
Coming soon we’ll look at mistakes not to make when posting your resume or bio on your personal website.