Applying for Freelance Writing Jobs: How to Make Your Applications Stand Out
When you're applying for freelance writing jobs, you're more than likely going to be up against a lot of other writers. You might be a fantastic writer but getting your freelance writing job application right is arguably just as important as the clips in your online writing portfolio. If your application doesn't hit the mark, chances are it'll be rejected very quickly. The trouble is, when you first start freelancing, it can be difficult to know what to include in your job applications to make them stand out for the right reasons. Here are some tips for putting together a good freelance writing job application.
Do some prior research. There are a lot of scams relating to freelance writing jobs and you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle if you give the company a quick Google search before you submit an application to check that they don't have a bad track record when it comes to paying their writers.
Read the job description carefully. This one sounds like a no-brainer and you're probably wondering why I've even included it, but it's all too easy to only partially read or totally misread a job description, especially if you're desperate to land a gig. When my freelance writing is veering more towards famine than feast, I've been guilty of applying for jobs that I'm not really qualified for (I don't have relevant clips, for example) because I was so keen to land a gig of any description. Freelance writing can bring a lot of rejection and frustration at the best of times but you're even more likely to come against this if you're applying for freelance writing gigs that are way out of your comfort zone. Consciously weeding out the freelance writing jobs that aren't right for you has the added benefit of being productive, because you're only applying for the openings that you stand some chance of being hired for.
Explain your credentials. Once you've decided that a particular freelance writing job would be a good fit for you, you've got to show why this. A brief introduction detailing your relevant experience (for example, if it's a health writing job, tell them who you've previously written health-related articles for) is an easy way to do this. Keep it relevant though. If you've not got enough evidence to put forward regarding your credentials, it may be that you're not as suitable as you originally thought.
When you're deciding which clips to put forward to show off your writing ability, it's preferable to include only those that are relevant for the job that you're applying for. In the health writing job example, you'd want to include health clips as a bare minimum. If the job in question is specified as a women's health writing job (for example), narrow the clips down to those relating to women's health. Sure, other pieces may well demonstrate your writing skills in general but what the powers-that-be really want to know is whether you're going to be a good fit for their publication. Keep your clips as relevant as possible if you want to stand the best chance of getting the job.
What if you don't have any relevant clips though? It's not ideal but all isn't necessarily lost. I landed one blogging job but creating an article from scratch and submitting it as a writing sample. I didn't specify that it hadn't previously been published anywhere else and it must have been suitable enough for the editor to not even care.
Follow instructions. You'd be surprised how many editors say that candidates don't follow all or any of the instructions in the job description and not surprisingly, they bin anyone who is guilty of this. You might not think that it matters whether your attach your resume instead of pasting it into the email body as requested but in the eyes of an editor, you look like someone who can't follow basic instructions and by default, someone who could be a lot of hassle to work with.