SEO Writing Job: Research/Write about Different Businesses – Ongoing Work (Insight on How to Land This Gig)

I was just over on the Problogger job board, and I ran across the following job listing, which read in part:

Need several reliable full-time independent writers to research various types of businesses and the functions they perform—then write about them in a format we provide (800 words broken out into sections). Text is for category pages on a website about different businesses.

Would like to start with 1 article sample (paid) and move onto batches of 10 with qualified candidates—and ultimately long-term work.

As an aside, I’ve been seeing a LOT of listings like this lately; ie, companies requesting ongoing content. And, many of them are the types of gigs I pointed out in this recent post on hot freelance writing niches for 2017: eg, political news writers, writers with knowledge of WordPress, and content creators for evergreen niches like health.

Landing a few ongoing clients early on in my SEO writing career made it possible for me to not have to worry about finding a job again.

If you’re a long-time reader, you know my story of getting downsized out of my last job (2007); having trouble finding a new one to pay enough to cover my bills; and stumbling across SEO writing. The rest, as they say, is history. FYI, it’s all detailed in the free ebook you get when you subscribe to the site’s newsletter.

Note: Many posts on this site contain affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

How to Respond to Freelance Writing Job Ads to Increase Your Odds of Landing Gigs: 6 Tips

As I’m seeing more and more of these types of listings, I thought I’d share some tips on how to increase your chance of landing these ongoing writing jobs.

1. Follow Instructions to the Letter

While this may seem obvious, I can’t tell you how many times many freelancers don’t do this. And as someone who’s been on both sides of the hiring desk, I understand why. It can be time-consuming to tailor responses to each individual prospect, and all-too-tempting to just stick with your “blanket” writing samples and query cover letter.

But trust me, it is sooooo worth it to take your time to do exactly what the prospect asks for in their job description. The reason is, they have a system in place for responding to the flood of applicants they receive.

The first weeding out method I always used when I owned my editorial staffing agency in New York, and even when I places occasional ads for freelancers now, is to delete those who don’t follow my instructions.

Recruiters/employers look for ways to weed out applicants – usually because they get so many.

And if you don’t do the basics like follow the instructions that they’ve likely put a lot of time and thought into, it’s the sure and quickest way to get sent to the slush pile and/or deleted altogether.

2. Demonstrate Understanding Over & Beyond the Job Description

In this job posting, the company wrote:

You will read the brief: “Animal shelters are also known as puppy dog and cat shelters, pet adoption centers, dog pounds, and humane societies. Animal shelters provide information on adopting dogs, cats, and pets, animal care and rescue, and animal control.” You will then use the brief to perform research, and use similar words as the brief to describe the business.

So obviously, they mean you’ll be doing keyword research. I would turn in a list of keyword with the sample I created for them AND explain – in broad terms – why I selected those keywords.

This shows that you fully understand how keyword research works. And not only that, I bet you dollars to doughnuts that not ONE other applicant will do this. So, it makes you stand out immediately.

3. Include a Call-to-Action (CTA)

Most content is written to sell something. And if you understand how to write sales copy, then you know that you should always tell a reader exactly what you want them to do when they finish reading what you’ve written.

Writing an effective CTA is an art. Read up on it. Study it. Include one in every piece of writing you do.

FYI, over the course of my career, I’ve found that many clients aren’t aware that they should have a call to action.

This is why studying what makes for effective copywriting is so important as a freelancer. When you’re good, your stuff will stand out. Clients might not be able to put a finger on just why your writing is so much better than all the other stuff that lands in their inbox, but they won’t be able to deny it. And even if you’re more expensive, they’ll hire you.

4. Grab’em by the … Headline

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.~David Ogilvy, Advertising executive widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising”

There have been times that I’ve placed a job and within 15 minutes, 50 to 100 responses will land in my Inbox. This is the kind of competition you’re up against. I’m not trying to scare you, just let you know that this is why it can seem like your application/query disappears into a black hole when you apply for freelance writing jobs online.

But you know what? Every subject line gets seen and if yours stands out, it has an ever better chance of getting seen. So like writing CTAs, spend some time on learning how to write great headlines.

Note: Because this is so important in internet marketing (hence, for online copywriters), I wrote an ebook on this that I’ll be releasing soon. Not sure if I’m going to use it as a list-building giveaway, or charge for it. But it’ll be released soon. I’ll let you know what’s up with it.

5. Know When to Break the Rules

This may seem contrary to #1 – ok, it is contrary to #1 – but there is a time for it. Using the headline example, let’s say you’ve been given explicit instructions on what to put in the subject line of the email when you respond to a job ad.

You can do what is requested, or take a chance and do your own thing. For example, let’s say you think of a funny Subject line that you want to use. It made you chuckle, and you’re pretty sure that anyone who reads it will too, so, you go for it. You use your subject line.

If you decide to do this, make darned sure that what you do “hits the mark”; in this case, the funny bone. Then, in the first line of your response/email, point out that you know you broke the rules but are hoping to be given a shot.

This can be as simple as saying, “I know you asked for “x” to be used in the subject line, but as this has been in the news lately, I thought I’d take a shot by appealing to your funny bone.”

On the other side of that computer is a fellow human being. They laugh, cry and put on their pants one leg at a time just like you. Sometimes, appealing to them on this level will be just the thing to make you stand out – and get the job.

6. Offer an Additional Service

Do you know how to do infographics? Do you do social media account management, in addition to writing?

Saying something along the lines of, “As I’m sure you know, to get the best mileage out of a piece of content, it has to be distributed. I can handle that for you as well. Here’s a link to my SM packages.”


A lot of times as freelancers, I think we forget that the “interview” process is a two-way street. We can get so wrapped up in our fears of “Will I get the gig? I hope I get the gig,” that we forget to do some probing of our own.

So if you have questions, ask. In fact, seek at least one to ask. Why? The main reason is, it’ll make you stand out because the vast majority of freelancers don’t do this. Also, it gives you another chance to show the prospect that you grasp your craft (eg, what it takes to be an effective online writer), and that you want to understand theirs so you can deliver the best content possible.

To this end, a good question to ask regarding this particular job is, “Who makes up the bulk of your client base, eg, will I be writing for mostly B2B or B2C clients?”

If I’d placed this job ad and a freelancer responded to me like this, the fist thing I’d think is, “She knows her sh*t!” I’d definitely be interesting in learning more.

Related Post: Online Writing Jobs: What to Do & What NOT to Do When Applying for Freelance Writing Work

Corrected Link: FYI, in last week’s newsletter – the post on the 11 hot freelance writing niches for 2017 – had the wrong link. That post is linked to in this post, and again right here. Sorry about that.

Have a great week!

P.S.: Earn $10,000/Month in Affiliate Marketing? Did you subscribe to GetaMobileCareer.com yet? Learn why you should.

P.P.S.: One of the first things you need to start a successful online writing career? A blog/website. Learn why & how to get one here.

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    1. That bonus tip is important! Freelancers do get stuck in that “job seeker” mentality where they just want to do and say anything to please the employer. However as a business owner, it is up to you to make an offer that will hopefully make their work a lot easier. That’s why they hire freelancers! Thanks, Yuwanda, for that reminder!

      • You’re welcome Halona. I’ve been there, and you’re right, so many of us forget this. It’s almost like we’re begging, when they need us as much as we need them. Once that mental switch is flipped, it’s empowering!

        Good to hear from you. Hope the New Year is going well so far. 🙂

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