So, you’ve found a freelance writing opportunity that sounds perfect. Now what? You must create the most amazing, impressive, eye-catching application in the history of the world!
Well… not quite, but in the competitive world of freelancing, the pressure to craft the perfect job pitch can feel overwhelming.
The good news? You can set yourself up for success in the world of writing jobs by taking some fairly basic steps:
Follow the instructions
The most important piece of advice I can give you is to follow the application instructions.
If an employer want a particular type of writing sample, send it to them. If a hiring manager wants you to write something specific in the email subject line, do it. I know one company that asks all candidates to include the word “spaceship” somewhere in their application email — just to filter out people with poor attention to detail.
Bottom line: if you can’t follow the instructions on the job posting, it’s a good sign to potential employers that you don’t pay attention to the little details — which are usually make-or-break for a writer. It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people miss this step.
Pitch yourself well
Your pitch — the email you send to introduce yourself to a prospective employer — is your first chance to make a good impression.
The substance of your email will probably depend on the kind of client you’re targeting and your specific portfolio. However, Tom Ewer — the man behind freelancer blog Leaving Work Behind — suggests all pitch emails should include:
Brevity: your email should be well formatted, on point, and packed with information — no fluff. Don’t waste their time.
Examples of your work: this is essential. If you have nothing to show them, consider writing up a few example pieces.
Background of your (relevant) experience: this shows that you have actually considered their listing — you are not just submitting applications at random.
Be honest about your ability
Freelance writing is a buyer’s market, which means it’s tough to land a job for which you’re not totally qualified. Don’t have the experience yet? Think about taking on a few volunteer or lower-paying jobs to bulk up your portfolio and boost your network.
Also, if you see a dream job that is way out of your reach, don’t just pass it by. Instead, scan through the required qualifications and keep a running tally of what you’re missing. This can help you figure out what areas you need to develop to land future dream gigs. (Click to tweet this idea.)
Kill your portfolio darlings
Many clients will ask for samples of your work. And they don’t want the latest article you dashed off two hours ago — they want your best pieces.
Ten mediocre articles can wreck your chances at a job, while three fantastic pieces can secure the contract. So, don’t be afraid to kill your darlings and only pick your strongest pieces to use in your portfolio.
Don’t get discouraged
You might have to throw a lot of spaghetti against the wall in order for something to stick.
In a lot of ways, freelancing is a numbers game. Success rates will vary depending on your experience and competition in your particular niche, so don’t be discouraged if you’re doing a lot of pitching.
Freelancing can be a solitary lifestyle (and some of us like it that way!), but staying in touch with your writing community is a great way to find out about opportunities.
What’s your favorite advice for landing a freelance gig?