It’s not exactly a secret that one of the easiest places to find freelance blogging gigs is on popular industry job boards.
That said, why is it that some people seem to luck out and secure the “cream of the crop” jobs, while others apply time and time again without seeing any results?
In fact, it might not be your skills that are preventing you from getting hired. If you’re making any of the following mistakes, your odds of gaining new clients go down significantly – so get your act together ASAP!
Mistake #1: Not following instructions given in the listing
I’ve been working online since 2007 and in that time, I’ve both built a freelance writing career finding jobs on freelance job boards and used these resources myself to hire writers for personal and corporate projects.
So as somebody who’s seen both sides of the job board coin, let me tell you that one of the most frustrating things you can do is to not follow instructions that are explicitly stated in the listing.
Often, when I post a job, I’m looking for somebody with specific experience – which is why I’ll ask applicants to describe their past work on the subject or to share examples highlighting their work in a certain way. And yet, at least half of the responses I receive come from writers who have copied and pasted a template response into the message.
Yes, having stock responses makes it easy to apply for more jobs in less time – but you aren’t likely to get any jobs at all if you frustrate the person doing the hiring. If a listing asks you to provide some specific information or take some certain action, do it – no ifs, ands or buts.
Mistake #2: Not matching your tone to the listing or the client’s website
Let’s say you’re applying for a freelance gig with a legal firm you found on your favorite job board. I’m hoping you wouldn’t start your application with, “Whaddup, legal dawg?” but I’ve seen stranger things happen.
So, let’s kick this mistake to the curb once and for all.
Freelance writers need to be able to handle drafting content using a wide variety of tones and voices. Your first chance to show off your ability to do so comes in your job listing response, so make it a habit to check the hiring company’s website and match the tone of your application to what you find on their pages.
Mistake #3 – Not including relevant samples with your query
If you take nothing else from this article, make it a point to remember that the people posting writing gigs on freelance job boards can receive hundreds upon hundreds of responses to their listings.
As a result, it’s up to you to distinguish yourself and show these hiring agents that you’re the right person for the job!
One of the easiest ways to do this is to include blog post samples with your response letter that are as closely targeted to the job you’re applying for as possible.
Say, for example, that you’re applying for a job writing mobile app reviews for a tech blog. In this case, sending samples from your past work in the personal finance niche might show off your writing abilities, but it still forces the reviewer to make the mental leap of determining whether or not your style will translate to this second niche. And again, the fewer mental leaps that hiring agents need to make, the better your chances of securing job board gigs will be!
If you don’t have relevant samples in the niche you’re applying to, you can always write up a quick sample article to send along (though doing so for every job you apply to could become tedious).
If you’d rather not take this extra step, consider adding a statement to your response message that spells out any past experience you have with the new field and explains how well your writing style will translate. Doing so will take the guesswork out of matching things up on the part of the reviewer.
Mistake #4 – Addressing your query generically
This one goes back to traditional job seeking advice, so you probably already know that it’s best to address all of your application materials to an actual person – rather than to a generic, “To Whom It May Concern” title.
To do this consistently, you may need to do a little digging, as job board hiring agents don’t always include their full names on their posts.
But I’ve always found that the extra time needed to either search the hiring company’s website for a contact name or reach out to company representatives for this information is time well spent, as it lets me form a more personal connection with application reviewers right off the bat.
Oh – and can we all agree to stop addressing responses with “Dear Sir”?
Maybe it’s a petty, small thing, but as a lady who does an awful lot of writer hiring, it’s a huge turnoff!
Mistake #5 – Using unprofessional contact information
Let’s just nip this one in the bud…
If your application comes from an email address like “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com,” I’m deleting your response without reading it.
If you want to be taken seriously as a professional blogger, step up and register for your own writer’s website URL. Then, use a customized, domain-specific email address like “firstname.lastname@example.org” to send your job board response messages.
Building a website is cheap and easy to do these days, so there’s no reason not to take this important business step.
Mistake #6 – Not applying right away
Usually, when people post to job boards to hire writers, they do so because they need help – and they needed it yesterday.
I’m totally guilty of this, but it’s often difficult to plan ahead and source writers before you need them. As a result, if I get a great response within the first hour or two of my listing going live, I’m not going to sit around and wait to see who else replies. I’m going to hire that writer so that I can get back on track as quickly as possible!
If you see a hot job listing, don’t wait to apply. Make it a priority to check in to your favorite boards at least once a day and then drop everything (as much as possible) to respond to the gigs you really want.
Sure, you might encounter listings that won’t hire until a few weeks later, but if you catch a hiring agent who’s pressed for time, you’ll set yourself up to be in the right place at the right time by applying right away.
Mistake #7 – Not demonstrating your enthusiasm for the job
Finally, remember that people want to work with the people who want to work with them! It’s human nature to gravitate towards those who demonstrate interest and excitement for our projects, so make it a point to state exactly why you’re interested in a particular job in your response letter.
You don’t have to go over the top here, but you should make it a point to let the reviewer know what exactly about the position interests you and how specifically you plan to help the hiring agent. As an example, try something like this:
[Your topic] has always been something that’s fascinated me, and I’m sure I could put my past experience and knowledge of the subject into practice in articles that will help your blog to attract even more highly-engaged visitors.”
Simple, sweet, to-the-point and guaranteed to make your application stand out from the tons of more generic responses the listing reviewer will receive. Give it a try today and see if your application success rate doesn’t immediately improve!
Obviously, these are just my experiences – so your mileage may vary. However, they’re mistakes I’ve encountered repeatedly when hiring out thousands of dollars’ worth of paid writing work, and avoiding them has helped me to secure as much as $5,000 a month in job board work.
I’m guessing there’s at least one thing in this list that you can use to improve your own job board success.
Which mistake is your worst habit? Can you think of any other job board mistakes to avoid?