What's on the iPod: Beautiful Day by U2
One article done! Amen. It was the smallest of the four, but one that had the most limitations. Two vendors, two parts. Ugh. That ties my hands, but hopefully I was able to keep it somewhat vendor neutral (not sure how that's possible!).
I sent out a note to another client with ideas for upcoming newsletters, and I interviewed a source for one of the remaining articles. Now I'm in full-on writing mode -- I want to frame in article number two and then get the first interview sorted. Also, I want to research a bit more on the subject to see if I'm getting all the input I can for it.
One thing I've been noticing lately is just how many writers are demonstrating with disturbing frequency their inability to follow directions. I received a forum notice where someone posted a job notice. The directions were simple: to be considered, send an email to the poster. While I have plenty of issue with applying for jobs instead of actively seeking out new clients, I will say that the problem with the ad wasn't the content or the request: it was with the responses.
The poster was clear on what he wanted: emailed responses. Yet there were dozens of writers piling onto that thread, giving their names, background info, and email addresses. Hate to break it to you, kids. He's not calling.
Let's do a little exercise. Here's the ad, which for our purposes is appearing on a forum thread:
Writing professional with overflow work looking for a writer with experience in the sales and marketing industry. Must have at least three articles published on the topic or a related topic (convince me!), and must show some familiarity with the topic area and jargon. You don't have to be a master; you simply have to understand the needs of the industry. To be considered, please send your CV and two writing samples (related, if possible) to Email AT mydomain DOT com.
If you're responding, what are you going to do?
Send your CV. Try not to listen to those writers who think resumes are so yesterday -- I've had to send mine out three times this year, and I use mine to capture business while at trade events. What's "so yesterday" is the traditional resume format. I prefer a list of published work, a list of where I've been (traditional jobs, and only short blurbs), and a list of client projects I've worked on. Forget the job you had in high school and those college internships (unless they were mighty impressive or you're fresh out of college). My resume is a PowerPoint presentation, but I'd recommend against that for these blind ads (they won't open the attachment if they don't know you). Instead, direct them to your website or paste your CV in the body of the email.
Send two writing samples. Which ones? If it's a job in the marketing and sales industry (it is), you're going to send clips that are most relevant to that industry. For instance, that article you did on how to deliver good customer service or that piece on top ten reasons people buy. What you're not going to do: send three or more samples. Why? Because the ad asked for two. If they need to see more, they'll ask. If you send more, you're also sending the message that you can't follow simple instructions. You're also not going to send fiction pieces. If you don't have nonfiction samples, make them up. A blog post, an editorial, another client project....all are acceptable to this particular job poster.
Send it to the email listed. Don't answer the ad right there in the forum. Three reasons for that -- 1) it's not what the poster asked for, 2) the poster may never return to see the responses, and 3) it makes you look like you're begging for work. I conduct my negotiations without an audience. So should you.
What are some of the more heinous missteps you've seen?