21 March 2009

Blogging Tips : How to NOT get Hired for a Blogging Job

Looking for a Blogging Job? Today Lynn Truong (co-founder of Personal Finance blog Wise Bread) gives some tips on how to apply for one.

I’ve read thousands of blogging applications over the last few years. And while explaining what I look for in a blogger is pretty much like trying to pinpoint what one looks for in a mate – generic and unhelpful for any prospects – I can very clearly describe what prompts me to put an application in the “no” pile before I even finish reading it. Unfortunately, these are the applications I get more than any others. Eight out of ten applications inevitably go into the trash because of the following.

1. Write in no caps.

Yes, you’re only applying to a blog, but we still publish all our posts with capital letters and proper grammar. Hit that shift key when you start a sentence, and refer to yourself as I, not i. This is a real, paying gig, so be professional.

2. Use the word blog incorrectly.

A blogger is so much more than a writer, so if you don’t understand this, at least don’t announce it. You can use blog as a verb. I blog frequently is fine. You can also refer to our site as a blog. After all, we are looking for a blogger. But never call a post or an article, a blog. Don’t tell me you can write several blogs for us per day. Don’t say you’ve attached sample blogs. When in doubt, just use write or articles or site instead.

3. Provide one link to your blog as writing samples.

It is human nature to be proud of every post on your blog. Selecting just a few for sampling purposes might feel like I’m asking you to pick a favorite child. However, it is not possible for me to look through your entire repertoire. By selecting two or three of your best posts, you are showing me that you know how to identify great content, and that you’ve put some thought and effort into the application. I also use the samples to determine how well you understand the type of posts that fit well on our site.

4. Let me know I can request writing samples.

Nothing tells me that you’re sending out mass emails to any publisher around like an email that says “writing samples can be provided by request.” My job posting only asks for two things: topic ideas and writing samples. Don’t write me a long cover letter explaining why you’re perfect for the job, attach your resume (which I didn’t ask for), and then say that I can request writing samples. Why would I bother hiring anybody I already know I’ll need to ask twice for anything?

5. Spell our site name incorrectly.

If the job description says Wise Bread, please don’t write Wisebread.

6. Ask me the next day whether I’ve gotten your application.

My autoreply message specifically says that we can’t respond to every single applicant, but that we appreciate every application and will consider each one carefully. During a recruiting round, I get hundreds of applications a day, on top of the daily load of regular emails. I honestly don’t know if I’ve gotten your application. Most likely I haven’t even read it yet. All I can do is tell you the exact thing my autoreply already did: “We’ll let you know if we find a good fit.” I know you want to show that you are a person who takes the initiative, but what you’re actually doing is slowing down the process for everyone.

7. Give me a 31 page writing sample.

Don’t send me your college thesis. I won’t have time to read it and your application won’t be considered.

8. Be a mercenary.

I know serious freelancers write for multiple sites. But if you tell me you write for 20 different sites, and can do 10 articles a day for us, you’re telling me that you’re just a content machine who’s only concerned about your ROI.

9. Give me irrelevant writing samples.

You might not have any samples that fit our site’s topic, but at least pick samples that have the proper tone, length, and style. I don’t want a press release, letter of recommendation, or book report you thought was fantastic (although these can be included as extra samples to show your range).

10. Tell me your life story.

Getting to know bloggers and connecting with them on a personal level is my favorite part of the job. The cover letter is a way to let your personality shine through, as well as make you stand out in the sea of generic cover letters. However, your cover letter is not the appropriate place to talk about your personal problems or struggles that are not related to the position. Please only give me relevant experiences and tell me how you feel about our site. Keep it professional, please.

11. Ask for more information without including an application.

Sometimes I get an email that says “I’d like to apply, but would like to get more information first.” I understand that some writers are wary about sending writing samples, because some unscrupulous site burned you before and published your samples without your permission. But you have to tell me what additional information you are looking for, so I can properly respond.

Concluding Thoughts

Many bloggers miss out on great gigs because they simply don’t take the application process seriously. Sure, blogs generally aren’t as corporate and stuffy. I might be in my PJs reading your application in bed, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not looking for bloggers who show professionalism.

Keep in mind that writing for a quality blog can really raise your profile. Many of the great bloggers we have hired from the Problogger Job Board get frequent mentions and interviews from major news outlets like the New York Times, ABC, FOX, CNBC, and Self Magazine. Many of our bloggers also contributed to our upcoming book, 100,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, which will allow them to put the coveted “published author” designation on their resumes. It is therefore worth your effort to complete a professional and compelling application.

My biggest tip for anyone applying for a blogging job (any job, really) is to read the job posting carefully. All the information and instructions you need is there, so just pay attention. It’s fine to send extra information and materials, but make sure to include everything that is asked for.

I hope these tips can prevent otherwise talented bloggers from missing out on great blogging opportunities!

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