Five Tips for Applying for Listed Writing Jobs

Writing jobs that have been posted to Craigslist or any other public venue require a bit of finesse when you are applying to them. Here are some things that I have learned:

1. Take The Time

An editor or business owner can spot a form letter a mile away. Take time to research the publication before composing your application, unless of course they provide very little information. If they don’t provide much information, send in what they ask for and ask them if you can have more information on the project so that you can send more relevant examples of your work.

2. Rework Your Resume
Many writing positions that are freelance are starting to ask for resumes. I used to respond to these with a “see my portfolio”. Problem is, they don’t want to see your portfolio. They want to see a resume, structured like a resume. Do it and you’ll notice an uptick on your response rate. Structure it so that it lists any relevant work experience but focuses on your writing. Update the resume once every six months with your most recent works.

3. Be Up Front
If a job ad isn’t listing a critical piece of information, such as how much it is paying authors, ask. Reputable companies and publications will tell you, others won’t even get back to you since you are obviously a “troublemaker”. This is a huge time saver to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

4. Follow Your Instincts

While we can’t all be Jedi mind readers, we do all have instincts about people, publications, and potential clients. If you get a bad feeling about something, there is likely something fishy going on. Just make sure your bad feeling is based on something you can give a concrete example of, such as a potential client making odd statements or taking too long to get back to you.

5. Stand Out
You have to stand out from a sea of about one hundred to one thousand applicants to land any writing job that is listed online. If that intimidates you, you’re in the wrong business. Use humour, cleverness, and wit to get your application to the top of the pile. You’re a copywriter; figure out something “zingy” to write to get your prospect’s attention.


5 Responses to “Five Tips for Applying for Listed Writing Jobs”

  1. I would also add a sixth point – actually apply. It’s very, very easy for freelancers to talk themselves out of applying for a listed project, either because they feel that they might not 100% satisfy the listed requirements and qualifications, or because they think that the competition for the position is too overwhelming.

    Let the job poster be the judge of that. Apply for the projects that you think you can do and don’t take yourself out of the running before even getting started.

    January 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm
  2. admin #

    Awesome point Benjamin. Self-editing in terms of what we apply for is a career killer. One of my best gigs is one that I never thought I would land, and one that has worked out so well for both myself and the website owner that it couldn’t be better.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm
  3. I would also add: If they ask you to submit a “sample” piece tailored exactly to their specifications, odds are they are just fishing for free content. Suggest submitting a partial piece or nothing at all until you know they are legit.

    January 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm
  4. admin #

    I would agree with you with some very specific exceptions; if it is a website or person with a decent track record, I’ll do a short sample with strong language like “this sample for purchases of evaluation only, copyright retained with author until piece is purchased, etc.”. I have done this twice, one time it landed me the “job”, the other time it didn’t but the piece was not republished. In the first case, the sample was for a publisher that had other print publications and I reworked the sample into a paid article I ended up doing for them. In the second, I found the buyer on “Crunchbase” (part of, which you can’t get onto without a third-party evaluation of your business, so I went with my gut and did it.

    If I can’t find the person or publication online I won’t do it, I just send them my portfolio. The people who are attempting to get free content are usually SEO “make a quick buck” types who are too greasy to want their info splashed all over the web, so they are usually hard to find.

    January 28, 2010 at 1:51 pm
  5. Good point. I guess I’m referring particularly to those ads that are very cryptic about who the company behind them is.

    January 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm

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