If you read my previous blog post, you'll know that over the past few years I've gone from being a part time freelance writer, regularly pitching for projects, to working in a full time role, hiring freelance writers for content production on an array of different topics.
When I was freelance writing myself full time, I thought I had a good idea of just what those people hiring writers were looking for. While I'm not saying I had a perfect success record when it came to applying for gigs - far from it - I liked to think I knew what, at least on a broad level, was expected.
It wasn't until I started hiring freelance writers myself, however, that I realised actually what was expected - I was close, but not as close as I'd have liked to have been!
A lot of the time, it's not about the actual approach taken as a writer - I believe most of us have this down to a tee or are at least getting there - but more the phrases and terminology that's used.
And so although there's every possibility that this just applies to me, there are a number of things I've come to realise I don't want to hear from freelance writers when I'm hiring and the following three are arguably the most notable.
1. "Hiya! How's it goin'?"
If there's one thing that grinds on me more than anything else, it's over-familiarities. Hell, it annoys me when I get an e-mail from a relative that starts "Hiya Daaannnn!", so thinking I'm going to smile when you send me one as a freelance writer isn't going to work.
I'm not saying you need to be particularly formal - in my eyes, there are only a few occasions where you should start an e-mail with "Dear Sir / Madam" - but "Hi Dan" is always the preferred route. It's informal enough for us to be on an instantly 'professional friends' level, but formal enough that there's the right amount of distance between the person hiring and the person being hired.
2. "I haven't worked in that field before, but I'll give it a go"
I used to consider myself a particularly versatile writer. Unless we were looking at specialist topics, I'd feel confident I'd be able to produce a piece on most subjects, given enough time to research them.
Although I know there's a divide here and some feel a freelancer should specialise in just a handful of different areas, I believe that if you have the right mindset and approach, you can write effectively on a variety of different topics.
However, what I don't believe is that writers can produce a high quality piece by 'giving it a go'. If you're a versatile writer when it comes to content, then fantastic. But if you're not, don't try to be - stick to what you're good at, otherwise you're not only not going to deliver the work required, but you're going to potentially tarnish your reputation.
3. "I can do all of that, but unfortunately, I can't meet your deadline / source requirements / other vital component"
When I have a new project and I'm looking for a writer, I make sure I put as much detail as I possibly can into the advert. There are some things that might need to remain private until I've hired the freelancer, but to all intents and purposes, everything you'd need to know - and which I need someone to meet - will be in the advert.
Therefore, it does nothing but grind on me when someone applies and says they can only do 90% of what I asked. I fully understand that, in theory, I might be asking for someone who doesn't exist or who isn't available within the budget I have available, but there are some key aspects that obviously have to be met - and if you can't meet them, unfortunately, it's going to be more beneficial for you not to apply.
In no way, shape or form am I a model hiring manager or anything of the sort, but I do feel I'm not alone when it comes to not wanting to hear the above three points as someone hiring freelance writers.
Having been in the other boat, I was fortunate enough to recognise that these aspects were never going to score me points with hiring managers, but now I'm hiring freelancers myself, it's cemented the fact they really will do nothing to help you secure a freelance writing gig.