Applying For Your First Writing Gig: What to Include

on May 9, 2012 in Freelance Writing Jobs
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By: Shadab Mahbub

When you are starting your freelance writing career, finding new clients always seems like a daunting task. How does a writer find new potential clients and how do we approach them once we do? Do we send them an e-mail or do we call them? Do we attach our CV’s or do we just concentrate on sending our best samples?

I was always confused as to how to approach a potential client and the kind of language I should address them in. Do I be outright professional or should I be a bit informal and emphasize on the kind of person that I really am? It is extremely frustrating when you spend a good part of an hour writing an email to send to a prospective client but they do not bother replying to it. Nothing damps the spirit of a new and aspiring freelance writer like a cold lead. However as I gained more experience and interacted more with my clients (the ones who bothered to reply!) I realized the mistakes I had made during the start of my career.

The e-mail that you send your client is the only line of communication that you have and you have to make sure that it is impressive and professional. When I say professional, I do not mean rambling on about what you did in school, the degrees you have and including links to every piece you have ever written. Some simple measures can help make sure that your email consists of everything that your client wants to find and true, some time has to be spent writing it but once you have, you can use it to apply to countless other jobs!

  1. Using a proper email address: This may seem like a mundane point because apart from signing in to our email accounts and while filling in the contact information section of a form, we do not bother with our mail addresses. We can apply for a writing gig and have the best credentials amongst the competition but your clients are not going to be impressed if you send in your job application from an address like andy_rocks@yahoo.com. It is the kind of address that seems cool in school but can hardly be regarded as professional. If you have your own domain name, you can have your own email address but if you don’t, you can use free email accounts of course but make sure that they are suitable for correspondence. yourname@gmail.com is much more befitting for a job application than yournameisking@gmail.com!
  2. About Yourself: I personally find this the most tedious of them all because of all the “About Me” sections in the forum and freelancing site profiles I had to complete where I would elaborate on everything a client may need to know about me. It may seem monotonous but it can be the most important part. It may be the factor that singles you out from your competition and has your client favoring your application. Start out your email, with your name and stating where you are from. Say why you are a freelance writer and address each of the requirements or criteria of the job and explain how you are qualified to deal with them. Do not be afraid to incorporate humor or some aspect of your personality. Communication is a very important factor, especially for long term contracts so it is essential that you speak freely with your client.
  3. Links to your best work:  As far as samples on a job application are concerned, quality reigns over quantity.  Try to find samples that are relevant to the job requirements or were published on an authority website, blog or magazine. Do not just copy-paste the links, say something about each of the samples like: “While working on this job, I gained a lot of knowledge about SEO and how targeting certain keywords in a website’s content can help increase organic traffic”. What this does is that it adds a certain degree of credibility to your samples and also features your experience and expertise.
  4. Your Blog Or Website: It is not possible to enclose all your talents in a single email, which is why a blog or a website is very helpful for featuring your talents. It can showcase your writing skills as well as your knowledge about a certain niche and adds professional credibility. So update your blog regularly with interesting content and be sure to proofread everything.  Small typo’s on your site will put a dent on all your marketing efforts and can cost you jobs!
  5. Rates And Billing System: It is a very good idea to include an overview on how much you charge and how you charge it. Many freelancers charge on a per project basis while others charge on an hourly basis. If your client is impressed with your credentials, the first thing they are going to ask is how much you charge. It is pretty basic follow-up information and including them in your application is going to minimize the number of email that you have to exchange; this way you can get a quicker and more definite response.
  6. Links To Social Media: The level of your activity on social media has become an indicator of how enthusiastic you are about your job! Regular updates on Twitter and Facebook not only show the kind of person you are, but it also enables clients to interact with you on a more personal level. If potential clients can see the kind of business relationship you have with your existing customers, social media can be a very powerful tool for your business. So including links to your Facebook Page, Twitter Account, LinkedIn, MySpace or Pininterest in your email will give your prospects the chance to immediately build a casual business relationship. The stronger your social media presence, the stronger your credibility.

All of this in one email packs quite a big punch and makes a very credible impression. Such simple measures can help you land more writing gigs and also helps you brand your business. If you utilize other methods while applying for jobs, please feel free to comment and share tips and tricks!

About the Author

Syed Shadab.  I am a freelance writer at RnGWriter.com and I like to help businesses grow by providing them with cost effective and sustainable content solutions. More importantly I am awesome.

Follow Me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RnGWritercom

Twitter: changing_shadab

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4 Comments

  1. Amandah May 10, 2012 Reply

    This is useful information for applying for your first writing gig. Another tip would be to add a link to a ‘free’ report or eBook or add it at the bottom of the email. If you won awards (doesn’t matter how long ago), list them in your email.

    Regarding rates … I’m not sure I’d include a rate sheet. If you do, it doesn’t give you much room for negotiation. Of course, you could add a disclaimer at the bottom of your rate sheet that “rates are subject to change.”

  2. Shadab May 12, 2012 Reply

    Thanks Amanda and yes most definitely; free reports are an excellent incentive but are time consuming if you write it yourself.
    I like to give an overview of my rates so that they can act as a filtering process as opposed to misleading clients and wasting both our time!

  3. Mathew Oliver June 4, 2012 Reply

    Interesting article ! Links to your best work is probably the most important part.

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