Freelance writing is as much about selling yourself as it is about writing. With this in mind, we asked some of the employers who use our site, and others like it, just what it is that they look for in a freelance writer. Here's what they told us:
1. Employers won't go looking for the information they need
"A lot of the freelancers who replied to my advert just sent me their quote and nothing else," says Angel, who advertised for a freelancer in July. "There was absolutely nothing to set them apart from all of the other writers who responded, and I'd have had to contact them with questions to try and get the information I needed out of them. Needless to say, I didn't bother. I employed one of the writers who took the time to tell me a bit about herself, and why she was right for the job."
2. Employers won't ask the same question twice
If an employer asks a specific question: "what’s your writing experience?" say, or "who have you worked for before?" they expect an answer. Strangely, not all freelancers give them that answer.
"I advertised for a proofreader," says Jason. "One freelancer responded with a huge spiel telling me what a wonderful writer he was. That's great, but I wanted a proofreader. Rather than emailing him back and asking about his proofreading qualifications, I chose one of the people who'd answered my question the first time."
3. Employers appreciate courtesy
"A few weeks ago I was looking for a freelance writer," says Samantha. "I posted an advert on a number of different writing sites, and said that I would send a written brief to anyone interested in the project, to allow them to give me a quote. I was shocked by the responses I got, particularly the number of people who just emailed one line saying 'send me the brief'. I mean, is it really so much effort to write a proper email, giving your name and addressing me with mine? Does 'please' take too long to type? Apparently so. Needless to say, those kind of emails didn't get a response. I wasn't just looking for someone who could write well: I wanted to hire someone who'd be easy to work with. I don't want to work with someone with no manners."
4. Your writing matters – even in a query letter
"One freelancer proofreader asked me a question via email," says Jason. "She ended the question with four question marks. She didn't get the job."
5. Employers aren't always looking for the cheapest possible quote
"Some of the quotes I received were really shockingly low," admits Angel. "I just thought that if someone is willing to write an article for $10, they must really be struggling for work. And if they're really struggling for work, they must not be very good. I went with someone who charged what seemed to be a reasonable rate: she wasn't the cheapest I found, but quality was important to me."