In my last post I touched on the subject of queries to find work as a freelance writer. This post is yet another one in my Freelance Writing Guide For New Freelancers. While queries are more used to apply for jobs that aren’t advertised, we also need to have some guidelines we can follow to propose for a job say from an online job board.
While I mentioned that some attributes of a query apply to proposing for a job, it isn’t quite the same to propose for an advertised job and much less work intensive too. Here is what I do when I propose for a job in answer to an ad.
Stick with the guidelines
Please do not underestimate this.
When advertisers post a job, they normally state what they are looking for. Most writing jobs require you to send either samples, some sort of record of experience and if you have it, online links to point the prospective client to.
This is exactly why I stressed so much to start your own blog. Not only will it allow you to build up a vast sample of your own writing and your experience, but you can also use this to impress future clients with.
- If the ad states no attachments, then don’t supply any
- If the ad states samples, then don’t apply unless you are prepared to send them
- If the ad states sending a CV, the by all means doÂ (I normally point to my portfolio site which is sufficient in most cases)
- If the ad states anything else, please adhere to whatever it is
To write samples or not to write samples?
Actually, that is a great question and one that has been subject to many hefty discussions amongst writers. Personally, I refuse to send any samples as I see a huge opportunistic swindle going on on many job boards. Many so called clients post ads and ask writers to provide samples. Their intention is to use those for the actual task and never pay anybody at all.
While not everybody is like this, I simply don’t like to work for free as my time equals money. I have plenty of samples of my writing floating around the web and my opinion is that if somebody can’t see whether I’m talented for the job or not from what is already on the Internet, then so be it.
I do however see that some writing differs from what I normally do and for that reason alone I’m in the (very slow) process of posting samples onto my portfolio site.
The actual proposal
When it comes down to the nitty gritty of the proposal, then I’d like to keep it short but sufficient. Similar to a query you’ll need:
- an introduction
- a hook
- a pitch
- a portfolio
Email proposals are normally shorter than a letter and therefore you’ll need to get to the meat of things fairly fast without boring your subject to tears.
The best way to do this is to start off by giving a short introduction (keep it very short) and move to the hook in which you entice the reader to wanting to find out more about you. Ideally this is about one paragraph long. I found it really works when you set yourself apart from the masses by being remarkable and different.
Your pitch is where you take action to sell yourself. By now the person reading your email is already convinced that you are a possible match for the job, otherwise they wouldn’t bother going that far. Be humble but self assertive. There is nothing wrong with being confident about your ability as a writer, since confidence breeds confidence.
However, try to avoid singing your praises too loud and make sure that you know exactly what is expected of you before you write that email.
Finish the email off by pointing your prospective client to your portfolio. If you choose to provide samples, insert them into the blog post, rather than attach them (unless of course it is stated to do so in the actual ad).
Did you expect more?
Seriously, why complicate things when they work? I apply for every job board add with the above system and so far I got about 70% of all the jobs I’ve applied for like that. In the last four months I hardly needed to apply for jobs through job boards as most were results from direct queries (another reason why you need a blog).
I do enjoy sending out the occasional job proposal as it is like stocking up on goods for winter. A writer never knows when his work dries up, so it does help to be well prepared.