The last couple of posts have been about where to look for freelance writing jobs. However, once you have found the job, you still have to apply for the job successfully. That’s why this post is going to focus on how you can successfully apply for freelance writing jobs.
SELECTING THE RIGHT JOBS
If you have used the tips I gave in the last two posts, you’ve probably located lots of sites where you can publish your writing for money. In fact, you might already be working for a content mill or two. If you’re looking at list of freelance writing jobs, however, it can be overwhelming.
If you want to be competitive in the freelance writing job market, you need to apply for jobs that fit your skill set. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you’ve written about that subject before. But if you’re applying to something that’s way outside your experience, education, or training, it’s a waste of your time and theirs.
Focus your job application time and effort on writing jobs for which you have at least some relevant education and experience. You’ll get a much better conversion rate from application to acceptance that way. It’s okay to talk up your experience a little bit, so long as you’re not implying training that you’ve never received or work you never did.
WRITING THE COVER LETTER
The cover letter is possibly the most important part of applying for a freelance writing job. You’re applying for a writing job, and your cover letter is a chance to show the potential client that you can write. You need your cover letter to knock their socks off if you want to stand above your competition.
Try to match your cover letter writing style to the needs of the client or the expectations for the posted job. For example, if it’s an educational resources position, use a conversational but academic style. Show in your cover letter that you can teach through your writing. For SEO writing and similar filler content positions, write your cover letter in a formal, business style, being sure to include keywords from the job ad. This shows the client that you know how to write those sorts of articles.
You may want to compose your cover letter in a word processor before pasting it into your email. Never send your cover letter as an attachment; the body of your email is your cover letter. However, composing it in a word processor makes it easier for you to proofread the document before you send it out.
ATTACHING WRITING SAMPLES
Most writing jobs will request writing samples in the advertisement. Even if the client does not request them, it’s never a bad idea to include them, unless of course the client specifically asks that you do not. If you want your application for the writing job to be successful, you’ll need to provide excellent writing samples to the client.
As with the cover letter, make sure your writing samples match the tone of the client’s posted job. Don’t provide SEO content samples to a magazine, for example. Also, unless the client mentions them, don’t include college essays as a writing sample.
Even if they are previously published work, make sure to check over your writing samples for spelling and grammar errors. You might have made an error in the past that could cost you a future writing job if you do not.
YOUR WRITING RESUME
Attaching a resume to your job application is another vital step. Once again, even if the client didn’t mention it, it’s never a bad idea to include your resume. Your resume is the client’s chance to check out your credentials and see if they think your experience meets their needs.
Consider personalizing your resume for different classes of clients. While it is probably too time-consuming to create a personalized resume for each job application you fill out, it’s worth your time to have different resumes for different types of clients. This is especially true if you might be applying to jobs outside the writing sector at the same time. Each “class” of resume can focus on a specific skill set, so that the client is given the information they want to see without a lot of clutter.
A writing resume is often going to look very different from a traditional resume. You will likely not have dates and locations for your past employers. Don’t try to force it. Format your resume to focus on what you have done and what you have written, not who you were working for. In the freelance writing world, potential clients care about your past published works, not who you published them with.
Knowing how to put together a solid writing job application packet will make your job search much shorter and less painful. With the right cover letter, writing samples, and resume, you should soon find a writing job match that fits your needs.