Have you ever done a search for “freelance writer” only to land on a gig that isn’t for a freelance writer at all? For example you may land on a job for an editor who has to “supervise freelance writers” or a managing editor who has to “hire freelance writers”. Don’t click away from these gigs yet. They’re actually offering valuable information — they’re telling you these businesses hire freelance writers. Even though they don’t have job ad requesting freelance writers, it doesn’t mean they’re not open to the idea of reading your pitch and, at the very least, keeping your details on file for future reference.
Here’s what to do:
- Contact the business – Don’t necessarily ask if they hire freelance writers. Instead, ask for the name of the person who hires freelance writers or the name of the person who is the hiring agent or in charge of human resources. Unless you’d prefer to do a cold call, in which case you’d have to get past the receptionist and that’s not likely. I never cold call without sending a bit of information ahead anyway.
- Research the business: Many ads list the company’s name and location. Learn as much about the business as you can to find out if you’re a good fit. For example if they’re a pharmaceutical company and you have no experience writing health, medical or pharmaceutical related material, you’ll want to pass. If it’s a business that manufactures sustainable materials and you’re a green living expert, you may have found a job for which you’re well-suited. Besides, it’s always a good idea to know everything you can about a business you want to work for in order to better make your pitch.
- Send your pitch: Rather than a cookie cutter “please hire me or keep me on file” type of pitch, create a letter that touches on your experience and why you would like to work for this business. Let them know how you will benefit their business and their brand and offer bang for the buck. This is where your research comes in handy.
- Include your resume: If your past experience will benefit you in landing a gig, by all means include it with your pitch. List past happy clients and let this potential client know you’re happy to provide references upon request.
- Include testimonials: Having a list of glowing testimonials will only help your cause. Make sure each testimonial is from a check- able reference.
- Include contact details: Don’t forget a business card or sheet listing your contact details.
- Follow up: One to two weeks after sending your package, give a call to follow up. Ask for the person who you sent the package to. If this person doesn’t know who you are explain how you sent a package containing your details as a freelance writer. If you’re told the other party can’t come to the phone, do leave a message but also ask when for a good time to call back. Don’t be a nudge. If you don’t hear back in a few days call again. If you still can’t get through to someone ask the receptionist to leave a note saying you appreciate having your details kept on file in the event they’ll need to hire a freelancer. If you make a pest of yourself, they won’t want to work with you.
Even though they may not be advertising, plenty of businesses hire freelance writers. Finding ads for other writing and editorial professionals may help lead you to these “hidden” markets.
What have you got to lose?
I love these ideas, Deb – this is what I call “stealth marketing.” You’ve got to think creatively when seeking new work. These are great tips to go beyond the help wanted classifieds.
I have landed excellent writing gigs this year through revenue-sharing sites when a client saw my writing, loved it, and had to have me write her article. I’ve founded clients through using Twitter, Linked In, participating in discussion groups and asking questions of someone on his newsletter – my questions impressed him, and he asked if I would write the newsletter!
You never know where you’ll end up! I tell my clients, “You’ve got to be in it to win it” – the old lottery slogan – meaning, get out there and write (or sell whatever you are selling), because the more you’re out there, the better the chance of landing a new gig.
Do I have a perfect batting average? Heck no. But it never ceases to amaze me how some of the unorthodox channels landed me the best gigs.
Kathryn Lang says
I did this with a new local paper that my husband and stumbled over one day. I now have a regular column AND he’s planning to launch more of these local papers and syndicate my column in those. 😀
It never hurts to ask.
Great advice..wishing you and your family Merry christmas!!
Annie Mueller says
This is great, thanks, and just what I needed to hear today. I’ve found most of my best jobs don’t come through the obvious means but through doing a bit more footwork myself. The extra mile, so to speak.
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