Licking a Lobster for Luck

First watch this old school Kids in the Hall skit, mostly because it is funny:


How do we lick lobsters for luck as a writer?  As this skit taught us, it really is all about how you look compared to the other guy.  The first rule of marketing is to not make your competition look bad, as Dave Foley does masterfully in this skit, but to make yourself shine.  So how do we all find our own personal lobsters to lick?

I found that my contact e-mails weren’t pulling in a lot of contracts lately.  As a result, I went to a job interview for a fairly major corporation last Monday.  I was told yesterday that while I was a favourite candidate and the decision was hard, in the end they went with someone else.  How did I fail to lick my lobster?  It was a 3-6 month contract and their biggest concern seemed to be that I had my own business.  My attitude was really hey, if I don’t get this job, I’m just going to do more writing, so no big deal.  That was my problem.  I wasn’t hungry enough.

I changed my pitch e-mails very slightly to reflect a can-do attitude and a willingness to take on projects “right now”.  This will give you an edge over the other guy because one of the main things that people worry about when hiring writers is timeliness.  Most of us don’t say that we’ll have the work done when the client wants it because we just assume that it is part and parcel of getting the contract.

Remember that they are looking at your e-mails alongside possibly hundreds of other writers if you are going after a publicly advertised job.  The more of an “edge” you can have on the generic “here’s my portfolio, here’s why I am good for your job, here are relevant writing samples” e-mail, the more chance that you will get the job.  Sounding a little hungry without being going too far over the line into begging territory will give you that edge.  Clients usually want people who can start right now and if you tell them you aren’t working on a million other projects (it pays to be honest here too) and can commit almost solely to them, you will get the contract.

Unless another guy licked the lobster.  Then, my friends, you are screwed ;).

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