I’ve had the opportunity to hire hundreds of writers over the past few years, but there have also been many that have not made the cut for a project I was working on for other clients. I’ve seen the same patterns play out many times.
If you’re not hearing back and you’re submitting to online writing gigs, there are probably a few reasons behind it. Besides the obvious not being a fit or the position already being filled, many of these reasons are actually in your control.
Here are some the reasons why, as the project manager, I have nixed people. These also include situations in which the client decided the person was not right.
I’ve worked with hundreds of students who came to me with the same complaint: “I’m submitting widely but I’m not getting hired anywhere.” Nine times out of ten, they were making one of the mistakes below.
Now, I’m being pretty candid here, because honestly, these mistakes are costing you money and freelance writing clients. Forgive my candor in the name of helping you make more money because I want to keep it real. Far too many people make these mistakes and don’t even know it because they never get a response from a freelance writing client.
Bad Writing Samples
Your writing samples are everything to a client. If you’re new to freelance writing, don’t waste your time with a website if you have limited time. Instead, focus on your writing samples. These should be crafted perfectly. Go find a great example of the type of content you want to write and then model your own piece after the style, length, and formatting.
In a recent freelance writing sample I reviewed, I spotted six grammar and spelling errors in two paragraphs. Six, folks. No one is going to hire you if your own writing samples are not in tip-top shape. Have someone else review them or pay someone to suggest improvements and edit it! It’s worth the time and/or money if that writing sample lands you thousands of dollars worth of projects.
The same goes for sending writing samples that are unclear or unrelated entirely. Your creative writing fiction short story doesn’t give anyone a sense of how you write blogs or white papers, FYI.
If you don’t have a sample, MAKE ONE. It really is that easy. Do you need a custom sample for every client? No. You should have a bank of high-quality materials, though.
If your pitch is five paragraphs of you talking about how great you are and nothing about how you help clients, there’s no personal connection.
Your proposal will read the same as the other five dozen people applying and will ultimately get deleted.
No Followup or Terrible Followup
There’s a scene in which the main female character in Mrs. Doubtfire is interviewing candidates for the housekeeper/nanny and there’s a woman who says “I don’t do laundry. I don’t do windows. I don’t do carpets.” Basically she reads off a long list of things she absolutely won’t do.
You need to NOT be that lady. There’s a time and place for setting your boundaries with your clients; it’s not the first pitch email or your followup, if the client never replied.
Same goes for followup emails like “Hello??!?! Did you get this email?” (Yes, I have actually received emails saying this.) I don’t care how professional you think you are, a client will automatically decline working with anyone who appears difficult. If you look like a diva or a problem, it’s a no-go.
Push the boundaries and you’re out, no questions asked. I’ve had potential writers who had the skills but came across as difficult to work with and were axed before they even got a shot.
Don’t annoy people. Don’t demand that they read your emails or respond. You’ll get a response if you’re the right fit. Send a followup email to touch base once, but don’t make the client feel like they are obligated to answer you personally. People managing projects like these could be getting hundreds of responses- if your work doesn’t stand out in a good way, you’re probably not going to get a response at all.
Have you made any of these mistakes? Has it been six months or longer since you put together an amazing writing sample?
If you’re worried why you’re not getting responses to your pitches, head back to the drawing board.
Refine your pitch.
Perfect your work samples.
Implement a working followup plan.
I’d love to hear how you’re planning to tweak your approach based on these three big no-no's! Let me know in the Comments section.