So, you want to be a freelance writer. You’ve scoured the Internet for the best paying writing jobs, and now you’re ready to apply for some of them. There’s just one problem: so are a few hundred other freelance writers, many of whom have a lot more experience than you do. How on earth are you supposed to make sure you stand out from the crowd?
1. Make sure you read the advert properly
This is an easy way to make your query stand out, because amazingly, the vast majority of queries we receive are from people who haven’t read our requirements properly. We get proofreaders applying for copywriting jobs, people with no writing experience applying for projects which state “experience required” – you name it, we get it. An email from a writer who has read our requirements and taken the time to explain how they can meet them is a rarity – and will always get a response.
2. Check your spelling
This should go without saying, but all applications for freelance writing jobs which contain less than perfect spelling and grammar, go straight to the recycle bin. Make sure yours isn’t one of them.
3. Get personal
My name is all over my website, and is included on every job advert I write. It’s very rarely used. Most freelancers who contact me refer to me as “Dear Sir”. I’m female. An email which addresses me by name makes me stop in my tracks as it shows that the person has taken the time to find out a little bit about me and my business, and to send me a personalised email, rather than a form letter. That person will get a response in kind.
4. Show, don’t tell
Fiction writers have heard this one before. It applies to freelance writing too, though: rather than telling employers how great your writing is, show them. Even if you don’t have any published clips to attach, send a sample of something you’ve written, and written well. It will speak louder than all of your words of explanation.
5. Don’t be flashy
Yes, fancy fonts and multicolored text stand out, but for all the wrong reasons. Writing is a creative endeavor, but when you apply for a freelance writing job it’s important to let your words do the talking. On a practical level, not all email clients will display html emails, so what looks to you to like a pretty snazzy email may appear to your prospective client as a big old mess.
6. Show them your references
When you write for a living, it’s important to collect testimonials from clients you’ve worked for before. You can put them on your website, print them in your brochures, and, of course, paste them into your quotes and queries. When it comes to winning clients, there’s almost nothing more effective than a personal recommendation. As you close your letter, then, add a short line saying, something like, “My previous clients include X, Y and Z – I’ve attached some of the comments they’ve made about my work.” If those comments are good enough, I can almost guarantee you’ll get a response.