About three times a week, I get a request from a stranger who wants to write for my blog. They are earnest requests, often calling themselves “content providers,” a term that, for me, demeans writing. But OK, terms change. We now call “creativity” by the weird concept “disruption,” so calling yourself a content provider won’t make me ignore you.
What does surprise me is the lack of imagination, approach, and complete lack of self-appeal these young writers use to entice me to hire them. Here are some of the basic mistakes:
1. They offer to work for free. If you are brought up in a world where money is the only thing that matters, this might be effective. In my world, quality counts. And I would pay for it. Don’t open the discussion with cost. Prove value first.
2. They make assumptions about my site that prove they haven’t looked at it or read the blog. They offer to write about fashion, fun ways to travel with infants, and sports. Clearly, an indication they never looked at my site.
3. They assume I hire freelance writers. Ten minutes on my site, and you know I write all the content myself. If you aren’t sure, ask. But don’t assume.
4. They tell me about themselves, how much they love writing, how they hope to write for a living, but nothing about their experience or what they have written, even if they have never published anything. How can I know what to expect if your content is about what I am supposed to do to fulfill your dreams?
5. There is no link to a blog or other writing samples. Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter links are not writing samples.
6. When I answer and ask for samples, their reply is short: I can write about anything. Really? Well, prove it. Point out something you have written.
Next: What you should include in your next query email.
Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing. She is also a creativity coach who helps people put their creativity to work. Her next book is The Invisible, Visible World.