What to Do Before You Answer that Freelance Writing Job Ad

When you see an ad for a freelance writing job that seems like it would be a great fit for you, do you behave like you are an agent in your own version of Mission Impossible? It’s great that you have found an opportunity that you are interested in, but you shouldn’t treat the ad like something that is going to self-destruct in five seconds (or whatever it was).

I know your first instinct is to jump on this and apply within the first two minutes after you read the ad (if not sooner), but there are some things you need to do before you throw your hat into the ring. If you do them, you stand a much better chance of being hired.

1. Read the ad again.

You want to be sure that you have read it thoroughly and you understand exactly what the prospective client is looking for. Taking the time to read through the ad again will either confirm that this is a great gig or it will reveal something that will make you rethink the idea of applying for it altogether. The last thing you want is for the client to get in touch with you and you find out that you really aren’t a great fit or it doesn’t pay a rate that you are prepared to accept.

2. Make sure you understand the client’s instructions.

Answering an ad is a bit like a pre-employment test. The client will ask you for certain things and if you are unable to follow the instructions properly, your application will be tossed out. It won’t matter how talented you are or how well you would follow instructions once you are hired – ignore instructions in the ad at your professional peril.

3. Gather your materials.

Some clients want to see a resume and samples right away. Others would prefer to just focus on the samples. A third scenario you might run into is where the client wants to review a resume first and will ask for samples from the writers he or she is most interested in. Whatever the client has asked for, provide it. That means if the client wants to see a sample that is 300-400 words long, you don’t provide something that is twice that length.

4. Make sure you are sending your response to the right person.

Rather than retyping an e-mail address, copy and paste it instead. You want to be sure that your resume and samples are going to be seen by the person who placed the ad.

5. Read your cover letter again.

It’s easy to make a typo or a grammatical error when you are responding to an ad. The last thing you want is to make a mistake like this when you are trying to impress a prospective client with your language skills. Take a few minutes to go over your cover letter carefully to make sure that you are presenting yourself in the best possible way.

Once you have completed these steps, go ahead and press “Send.”


5 responses
  1. Carol Avatar

    Great basics, Jodee — I think #2 is where so many writers go wrong. It says ‘send only two clips’…but they just gotta send five…

  2. Tish Davidson Avatar
    Tish Davidson

    I think there is another step that should be included: If possible, research the company or job poster. It isn’t always possible, but often there is enough information to do an Internet search. This helps evaluate whether the job offer is legitimate and helps avoid wasting time replying to scammy or continuously posted jobs where there may not be a legitimate opening.

  3. hikmatullah Avatar

    i am apprecite i will learn much morethings from the this 5 steps to i do my online job to elance / your sincerely afg kabul.

  4. Sharie Avatar

    Great reminders.
    Nice point, Carol.
    Tish, also good advice.
    I always do this when

    *Great blog, btw! 🙂

  5. Jackie Dishner Avatar

    Great tips, even for those of us who’ve been at this a while. We get bored on a busy marketing day, or we get careless. We over think things sometimes. And we can make mistakes. I agree with Carol. #2 is one rule to follow.

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