SEO Writing: How to Convince Potential Clients to Hire You

As a freelance SEO writer, I send out a lot of queries. I think I’m clear about the services I provide. But, as human beings, we tend to get our wires crossed, so sometimes I receive responses from potential clients that kinda throw me off guard….

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4 Tips for Applying to Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist to Get the Job

I recently landed three new clients in one day. Hence, I was slammed – too much work to meet all the deadlines without help. So, I immediately placed an ad on Craigslist for SEO writers (SEO writing is my new thing).

Over the next 24 hours, I received roughly 75 responses, and they’re still pouring in, fully a week after I placed the ad. That’s a lot of competition. I outsourced work to three writers from that ad – and have outsourced more work since then. Two of the three I worked with I plan to outsource more work to when I need help.

My point? Once an employer uses you, they will most likely use you again and again and again. Following are some things that, as an “employer,” turned me off, and others that made freelancers stand out (and made me want to call them).

Remember, I’ve been a recruiter for over a decade, so the following tips come with a healthy dose of experience behind them.

4 Things Not to Do When Applying to Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist (& Other Freelance Writing Jobs)

1. Don’t Ask for More Information – yet. Why? Because it means more work for the person who’s looking for help – at precisely the time they don’t have the time to do more work.

When I got responses like, “Can you send more info?” or “I’ve never done this type of work before, but …” or, “I’m interested in learning more …” I immediately clicked through to the next responder.

My answer to all of these questions is an emphatic “No.” As in:

No I don’t have time to send you more info – because I’m on deadline; and

“No I can’t work with you if you’ve never done this type of work before because I can’t train you – because I’m on a deadline;” and

“No, I don’t have time to teach you right now, although I’m thrilled you may be interested in learning more – because I’m on deadline.”

I thought the ad I wrote was pretty detailed. It gave enough information for someone with the kind of experience I was looking for to be able to assess the job – without more detailed info UNTIL they were hired for the job.

TIP: If you read an ad and can do what it asks, then don’t request more info up front – because the important info (deadline, rate, type of writing, etc.) should be in the ad. Wait until you’ve been hired and then ask questions.

Now, there are bad ads, no doubt, that require more information. But, I’m going to go out on a limb and say these tend to be more of the exception than the rule simply because someone who needs help – NOW – tends to give enough information so that a person with the experience they’re looking for will know exactly what is entailed.

The responses that caught my eye were short and sweet and went something like this: I am replying to the ad for SEO writers.  I have written SEO articles in the past and currently I blog at [insert blog name]. I have attached my resume with writing samples as well as a sample of my SEO writing.  Thank you!

This provided all the things I needed to assess if they were right for the job, namely: (i) experience, (ii) writing samples, (iii) rate acceptance (this was implied); and (iv) willingness to do the work.


2. Hedge-Your-Bet Writers: What do I mean by this? I received quite a few responses like the following:

“I am a [insert FT profession] and an experienced writer seeking freelance opportunities.  If this opening is still available please contact me directly via this email.  I can provide my CV and more information upon request.”

What’s wrong with this? A couple of things, namely:

(i) The person obviously freelanced on the side. And, while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, it’s not something I need to know unless I ask because I immediately think, “Are they going to be able to meet my deadline?”

If you can get the work done within the specified time, there’s no need to alert me that you have other responsibilities – unless I ask you directly.

(ii) The second thing that made me pass on this respondent is that he offered to send me his CV “on request.” What are you waiting for? Send it to me now. All his email did was put more work on me – at exactly the time I didn’t have any time.

I call these types of responses “hedge-your-bet” writers because I feel like they’re putting out feelers and if something comes along that fits their schedule or that they feel like doing, they’ll take it.

Freelancers who are serious about making money market for work and take what comes in – as long as it meets their criteria (eg, rate, deadline, etc.).

3. Incomplete Writers: Incomplete writers are first cousins to hedge-your-bet writers. How? They’re not set up to do what you want, but if you give them the job then they “could be.”

For example, this was a response I received to my ad:I do not presently have a PayPal account but I could set one up.”

As PayPal is free to set up and takes about two minutes, there’s no need for me, the employer, to know that you’re not fully equipped to handle my needs. Why would I use you, when I could use someone who has the setup I requested in my ad?

Especially in cases where you can quickly get what the employer requests, respond as if you have everything they ask you for because what if you do land the assignment. Don’t give them a reason not to contact you.

Furthermore, in this specific example, I thought, how long has this person been writing for the web/freelancing if he/she doesn’t have a PayPal account. Most of us do, or at least some form of online payment processing method. So, it caused me to question how much they knew about SEO writing at all.

4. Loquacious Writers: This is a basic, but I felt obligated to include it anyway. Don’t send a life history. A brief professional outline is all you need to send to potential employers, along with a few writing samples.

I received responses from freelancers that told me why they needed the job, why the felt they were perfect for the job and how it was their dream to be a freelance writer. These all peg you as a beginner – and in some cases, unprofessional. And, it will get you sent to the slush pile almost every time.

Final Insight into Responding to Ads for Freelance Work: When employers place an ad on a major freelance site like Craigslist, they’re probably going to get quite a few responses.

They scan through them quickly, looking for the person who has the qualifications they’re looking for and can meet their deadline.

All employers really want to know is if you can handle the job, in a timely manner, for the rate they’re paying. Only info that supports these things primarily is necessary – everything else is basically immaterial.

Yuwanda Black, Publisher

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SEO Copywriters: How to Stop Competing on Rate & Win as Many Clients as You Can Handle

As I contemplated writing this article, I thought, another one on this dreaded topic (freelance writing rates). “Why can’t we all just get along,” is the motto that is running itself over and over in my head right now. BUT, I’m going to tackle this anyway. Sometimes, progress just takes a while….

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Blog Marketing: 7 Tips to Get More Weekend Traffic for Your Blog

This post was updated (a bit) on 5/4/2012.

Conventional wisdom is that blogging on the weekend is not a good idea simply because there is less Internet traffic. However, can you use weekend blogging to increase your traffic and make more money? …

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4 Easy Ways to Increase Your Freelance Writing Income

I’ve been freelancing since 1993, and have been in the publishing industry since 1987. As such, I’m often asked for advice from other freelance writers….

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SEO Copywriting Success: From 0 Clients to $250/Day in Less than Two Weeks

I’m amazed at the month I’ve had. One new client I’ve already completed four projects for, and three more serious inquiries for work starting in January. Remember, December is supposed to be a slow month for freelance writers. …

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Long Tail Keywords: How they can help you convert 30% more of your site’s surfers into buyers

If you’ve never heard of the phrase long-tail keywords, you may be missing out on tons of search engine traffic. Why? How? To answer this question, let’s first define it….

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How Often Should You Update Your Site to Rank Well in Search Engines?

Have a freelance writing website that’s not generating any business? If you are a freelance writer and you are trying to monetize your site, eg,  sell an ebook, a seminar, etc. ranking well in the search engines is key. As a freelance writer, you probably have limited time and practically no budget. One of the things you can  do for free to generate traffic is update your website blog. But, how often? …

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How Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Affects Search Engine Rankings

You may be scratching your head wondering what Latent Semantic Indexing is. It can really wreak havoc with search engine rankings and is something every SEO writer should be aware of….

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Social Bookmarking Software & 9 Money-Making Conclusions from Freelance Writer’s Technology Month

Following is a two-part post. As I haven’t posted since Tuesday (have been working on getting two new websites up), I had two more posts left in the Freelance Writer’s Technology Month series.

I have to wrap it up because tomorrow is December 1st (where has the time gone!). …

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SEO Tips: The Basics of How to Optimize Your Website to Get More Traffic

One of the things I’ve learned in my research for Freelance Writer’s Technology Month is how important search engine optimization is. One extremely valuable lesson I’m taking away from all of my research is how to optimize my website to get more traffic….

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SEO Copywriting: 5 Ways to Get a Job Writing SEO Articles

In yesterday’s post, Post #6 of Freelance Writer’s Technology Month, we discussed 4 controversial ways to drive more traffic to your website/blog….

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