Tag Archives: writing gigs

Writer Etiquette: How Not to Get Hired

By Amanda Smyth Connor1133804_sign_success_and_failure

Let’s say you check your inbox and find that you have a query from a new client for writing services. Squee!

You set up a meeting, prepare for said meeting and go into it with enthusiasm. But what’s this? You have a sinking feeling about this client? Does the situation not feel right? Is your gut telling you that this is a bigger/tougher project that you can/want to take on? Does the client have needs that lie outside of what you normally deliver? If so, it’s easier to walk away right from the get-go than to stay onboard until it’s too late.

I interview every potential client as thoroughly as they interview me. Don’t forget that this is a 2-way street! Far too many times I’ve let myself get caught up in an assignment that was over my head or far too complicated/time consuming than I could handle. Had I not nipped these assignments in the bud as early as possible, it could have meant terrible things for my reputation as a writer. The world is a smaller place than you think and word of mouth travels quickly. It is better to cut out one ill-fitting client early on than to risk not getting hired in the future because you couldn’t complete an assignment.

How does one politely cut and run? Have several form responses ready to go, and if possible, reach out to other writers who may be a better fit to see if they would like to be recommended for this job.

For example, here is my polite “cut-and-run response”: Dear Client. Thank you for meeting with me. Your project sounds wonderful. While I would be honored to take on this assignment, my concern is that I may not be the best fit for your project. However, I do have a wonderful colleague by the name of “Colleague” who is available and has extensive experience with projects like the one we discussed. I would be more than happy to send Colleague your information if you are interested in speaking with them further.

I do apologize for not being able to move forward with your assignment, but I wish you all the best and please keep me in mind for future services. Until then, if I can be of any assistance at all, please don’t hesitate to ask.

All the best, Amanda Smyth Connor

Do you have a plan of action for a cut-and-run that won’t insult a potential client? If so, please share with the group.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Writer’s Residence

Monica Shaw
Monica Shaw

Today we have a Q & A with Monica Shaw of Writer’s Residence, a site where writers can build an online presence; including a portfolio of their work.

But first a little background on Ms. Shaw…

Monica Shaw is an internationally published freelance writer who has been building Web sites since the early days of the Web. In addition to Writer’s Residence, she also writes a popular health and fitness blog at SmarterFitter.com. You can visit her own writing portfolio at monicashaw.com.

1. What is Writer’s Residence and who should consider using it?

Writer’s Residence is a website that lets writers create a beautiful website, writing portfolio and resume/CV quickly and easily through their web browser. The service is ideal for any writer who wants an easy way to create a professional website where they can showcase their work. This goes for freelance writers, journalists, authors, copywriters, and pretty much anyone who wants to make a living through writing.

2. How can having an online portfolio benefit writers?

An online porfolio is an invaluable marketing tool for writers. Like a printed portfolio, a website helps you promote your work, particularly when sending queries to editors and agents. You can also use your website to gain exposure to your writing by linking to your website in emails, on business cards and on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s all about marketing. In fact, there’s a great interview on my blog with marketing expert Penny Sansevieri that addresses this specifically and I encourage you to check it out.

3. How difficult is it for people to set up a portfolio on Writer’s Residence? Is HTML knowledge required?

Writer’s Residence is designed to be easy. You can have a beautiful website up and running in 30 minutes or less by filling in a few simple forms through your web browser. No downloads are necessary. No HTML is required. We host it all so no technical knowledge is needed. All of the features are tailored for writers, which means you won’t spend time or money customizing a website with a bunch of features you don’t really need.

4. Is it expensive to set up a portfolio?

No, Writer’s Residence is not expensive at all. You can set up a portfolio for free with our 30-day trial. This gives you risk-free access to all of Writer’s Residence including a hosted website, support for your own domain, and unlimited uploads. After that, we charge $8.99 per month, which is cheaper than most website hosting services and has the added benefit of being specifically tailored for writers. There are no hidden fees and you can cancel at any time.

5. Is there any help or advice available if people have questions?

Yes. We love our customers and are always on hand to help with questions. You can contact us through e-mail or phone (we have both UK and US support numbers) and are guaranteed a personal response within 24 hours from either me or my partner, Tim. Since we created Writer’s Residence, you’ll get support directly from the people who built the site. 

6. What else can you tell me about the portfolio, and where can people go for more information?

Writer’s Residence grew out of my own freelance writing career and I continue to use the site to host my own online writing portfolio at monicashaw.com. As a user and developer of Writer’s Residence, I have a vested interest in making sure it’s the easiest, most hassle-free service out there for writers wanting a website. I love it when our customers tell us that their websites helped them land writing gigs. It’s one of the reasons why we created Writer’s Residence in the first place.

For more info, people can visit our website at writersresidence.com or contact me personally at monica@writersresidence.com. I also write a blog about freelance writing with loads of useful tips and interviews at http://writersresidence.com/blog/.

Traffic Boosting Experiments For Your Freelance Writing Blog

top ten excuses not to go fulltime freelance

by Joe Wallace

Over last week we tried a few experimental posts designed to boost traffic to Freelance-Zone. A couple of them were squarely designed to appeal to people’s basic desire to save (and earn) a buck. You might have noticed a few random Freelancer Freebies posts–that was one of our experiments.

Results? About what we expected. More people are interested in freelance jobs and resources directly related to freelancing. Fewer people thought free Cold Stone ice cream was cooler than freelance jobs. Everybody loves free ice cream–why didn’t we expect that to perform?

It’s all about the power of highly targeted niche blogging. Take a mass-appeal idea and try adding it to the mix on your blog without tilting it directly towards your target audience. That idea gets a lukewarm reception unless you can address the “Who cares?” factor.

Freebies WORK as a blog topic. They also work as a traffic-driving gimmick, but unless you target your gimmick directly to your existing audience, it won’t give you the results you want.

Over the weekend I stumbled across a variety of sites gamely trying to attract viewers via Google by using a practice I call keyword stuffing. They take popular search terms from Google Trends and try to stuff them into their new blog posts. Sometimes the stuffing worked–one blogger tried to tie in her blogging work with the fictional writer in Sex In The City. It was a stretch, but it wasn’t too far out.

One blog I saw was literally dictated by specific trends, spending a few months dedicated to one topic, ditching the idea when it didn’t go viral and switching to a new topic for a few months, dumping that, and trying yet a third and fourth unrelated topic. None of them ever had a chance to gain traction. The blog shed its skin and tried to survive with a brand new identity over and over. None of the identities took off.

To make any blog work you need a good topic you actually know something about, time, and the dedication to pull it off.  It’s crucial that you use your expertise to give authority to the site, put in the required online PR work and allow your site to attract long-tail traffic. Anything less will result in your blog going dark in, say, six to nine months.

In case you’re wondering, we definitely ARE doing the freelance jobs feature–that wasn’t something we just dangled out there to see how you’d react. Stay tuned.

Sarah Skerrett on Elance

No, we won’t be prefacing all of Sarah’s headlines with her name, we’re just slow getting her set up with her own Freelance-Zone login due to a technical problem. This is Sarah’s first full-fledged FZ post…welcome aboard, Sarah!

I recently got half-way through setting up an account with Elance (www.elance.com), an eBay-style job auction site for freelancers. Divided into “industries,” Writing & Translation is the second-largest pool of jobs (Web & Programming took the first place trophy, with Admin Support rounding out the top three), however some of these jobs are cross-disciplinary and can fall in multiple categories. When I heard from a colleague about Elance and its business model, I immediately checked it out and was only further intrigued when I saw, “15,000+ projects posted in the last 30 days.”

I’ve also been intrigued by Goobers (a peanut butter-and-jelly-combo in a jar) for several years. Same for commemorative plates, mechanical pencils, and audio cards. As with these products, after the initial excitement, a “too-good-to-be-true” feeling set in. Continue reading Sarah Skerrett on Elance

Confessions of an Editor, Part Three

When I posted a call for writers on Craigslist recently, I was flooded with replies. Two of those replies stood out to me because of their exceptional writing samples.

Unfortunately, “exceptional” in this case does not equal “great writing”.

I recieved two e-mails from two different people who included sexual content in their samples. One writer’s first sample runs an opening sentence discussing his younger sister’s developing breasts, the second writer’s opening line included a reference to oral sex with a tongue piercing.

Neither of these two samples are “wrong” per se, unless of course you take the time to read what the actual job post is about. Nowhere in the Craigslist ad do you find anything about creative nonfiction, Hunter Thompson-style journalism, or whatever these two job seekers were aspiring to with these two samples. The ad uses phrases like “SEO optimized content”, “e-commerce” and “research”, so what these job seekers were thinking when they submitted such writing samples is a mystery.

Chances are, they weren’t thinking at all. Continue reading Confessions of an Editor, Part Three

Writer Beware!

I try very hard to keep my visits to Writer Beware limited to weekend surfing, because anytime I start reading this fascinating site, I wind up losing tons of precious time. I just can’t stop reading this stuff! It staggers the imagination how many scams, bad deals, and predatory jackasses are wandering about looking for writers to take advantage of.

Today, I got caught up in the Writer Services section where you can get the latest on bogus “help” for book writers including pay-for-airtime radio scams, trade show book representation, and other dodgy deals. Most vexing to me was the “query and submission service” which preys on the busy writer’s need to get more submissions out the door whenever possible.

Granted, Writer Beware is aimed mainly at book authors, not article writers.  Those of us who spend more time blogging, writing articles, and doing commercial writing work won’t need much of this advice until we start working directly in the book writing/publishing world–but I find this site quite valuable because it gives you a peek at the behavior and practices of scam artists. That kind of behavior isn’t limited to publishing books, and when you see an editor or a client behaving in the same way as these publishing con artists, you can quickly spot suspicious techniques and business practices if you know what to look for.

That’s why I encourage all writers to have a look at Writer Beware, getting literate in the art of the scam is a good way to protect yourself from getting blindsided by the same old tricks applied in innovative ways. Bravo, Writer Beware, you’re doing us ALL a public service.