Do you have people offering to write your posts for you? I get a small but consistent trickle of unsolicited offers from freelance writer proposing me their services with examples of health and wellness articles. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the hustle. Professional blogger looks like an extremely difficult way to make a living. Bravo to those determined enough to make a go of it.
However, it seems like most of the time, these writers haven’t taken the time to do the research. I decided to check with an acquaintance who works as an online publisher and gets dozens of these solicitations every day. He told me that it’s actually fairly common for authors to use a form email with stock samples of their work which they sent out to everyone. And this is not best practice.
We had a chat about what he and his clients look for when hiring a professional blogger. This was mostly academic for me, I still have no interest in going pro, but I know some of the bloggers I follow aspire to such a career so I’ll share with you what I got from that conversation.
First thing I got is that blogger is a generally vague and slightly misunderstood career. It’s fairly popular with the new wave of writers so it’s important to have your submission stands out. Like any other job application, you should consider that the person at the other end has a whole bunch to get through so keep it short, clear and to the point but do find a way to grab the reader’s attention.
Apparently that way shouldn’t be colours or font. Formatting tricks give people headaches after a while… So I was told but my friend could be a grumpy stick in the mud.
One of the general misconceptions is that blogging doesn’t require any training. That’s not entirely false, my friend tells me they regularly hire on the strength of sample articles. However, if you have journalism or literature studies (or anything related), you should try to work them into your pitch somehow. It probably won’t be enough to get you a job but it could make the difference when an employer is hesitating between you and someone else.
Having your own hobby blog is great but use it carefully. A personal blog can be a really great exhibition platform for your work. Bear in mind that employers won’t necessarily have time to read everything you’ve ever written though and if you really want them to see a specific post you should link to it directly.
Moreover, although every one knows that writing as a hobby vs professionally are two different things, you may want to be careful sharing your blog if you are very inconsistent. From what I understood, posting sporadically and randomly is not actually an issue at all but frequent posts promising something that never comes or apologizing for not posting can raise some red flags regarding a freelancer’s ability to stick to deadlines. Especially when it’s a one-off contract that would have no long term consequences for the writer, should they blow it off.
Once again this type of thing is not to likely to lose you a job in and off itself but it can go against you when it comes down to a tough decision. What can lose you a job on your blog is *not advertising friendly* content, even if it’s in the comments (provided you made the offending comment. People won’t hold you responsible for your readers).
When trying to offer your services to a site, it’s actually extremely appreciated to do some research before. At least skim through content to see what it’s about. (For instance and anime blogger may not be interested in publishing your vitamin posts). If you don’t already have samples that would fit directly with the rest of the site, consider writing a short example tailored for the occasion. If you don’t have the time, it is nice to at least acknowledge that you are providing samples for example purposes only and that you are happy to produce articles on ****specific subject here*** if your services are retained.
Most people prefer that the writers they hire have some interest or at least basic understanding of the material they are meant to cover.
Finally, a general cover letter is great but I was told that one or two personalized sentences can go a long way and they should be in the first paragraph. When you get a lot of these, you don’t always read to the end.
Well that’s all great when you want to send out unsolicited offers but what about accepting to work for a site. We’ve heard about a lot of bloggers who have a very hard time getting paid or ended up with really bad working experiences. You have to be wary before accepting a job for online work.
There are some red flags to look out for. If the blog you are writing for is a professional blog with a staff, it’s most likely incorporated somewhere, if it’s not that’s usually not a great sign. Look up company credentials. It’s also easier to get paid if you’re in the same jurisdiction. If the person you are talking to has a lot of trouble with the language of the blog it can be a sign that it isn’t a long time venture for them. If they take forever to get back after a simple email, organization may be a problem and you can expect hold ups on every level, including payroll.
Although it lacks delicacy to discuss payment before you even get the job, it’s definitely a good idea to have worked out all the commission details before you start/turn in any work. You need to know exactly what you’re getting paid and what you’re expected to deliver (often in number of words), also you should have established the payment method and if the employer is opened to it, get a small advance (like 10%), just to make sure everything is in place.
The rest is fairly obvious stuff. Do your research to make sure your post doesn’t end up on a site you hate. Read the contracts and emails you are agreeing to, to see what happens to your copyright. If they don’t have a standard intellectual property deal in place: ask. If they don’t care, tell them you retain your copyright because why not…
And that’s it. That’s pretty much all I know on the subject. You can become a staff writer and have a regular job instead of freelancing but those positions are few and far apart. Freelance is a good way to build up a portfolio and some experience in the meantime.
I hope this was at least a bit instructive for someone. Have you ever considered becoming a professional blogger. Have you done any freelance work? Did you enjoy it?