How to get a blogging job – advice from Deb Ng of FWJ

During our how to get blogging and web writing series we’re looking at some of the experience that clients are looking for in a blogger or online writer. Last week we heard from Kori Ellis, an editor at b5media. Today we’re going to hear from someone familiar to you – Deb. BUT just in case you’re stopping by and are new to Blogging For A Living, Deb Ng is the founder of Freelance Writing Jobs, co-owner of the blog Kommein – a blog for community managers and author of the ebook “Beyond Blogging: Using Your Blogging Skills for Bigger and Better Things.” Deb’s past and current clients include Oxygen Media, About.com, BlogTalkRadio, the Blog World and New World Expo, b5Media, and many others. Along the way Deb has hired plenty of writers for projects and blogs and here’s what she’s looking for.

1. When you have one open blogger / web writer position OR an open query topic, how many applications do you estimate you receive?

The last time I took an ad for a blogger for FWJ, I received over 500 applications! As you can imagine, it took almost a month to go through them all.

2. Out of those above which percentage of applicants actually follow the directions you posted with the job? For example, you say, “send resume” how many actually do?

Less than 25%, I think. I’m amazed at how many writers feel I’m not paying attention or that the rules don’t apply to them. There are reasons I ask for specific things – the most important reason is to see how well each writer follows directions. The writers who apply might not think that’s important, but I find it very important. For instance, for the last job ad I placed I asked for writers with blogging, especially WordPress experience. I received so many applications from writers with no blogging or WordPress experience. The reason this was important is because I don’t have time to teach people to blog. Now, by applying to this job, these writers wasted my time and theirs.

3. Do you prefer a full resume, a brief email, links to other work. I.e. when someone applies for a position what do you like to see?

I like a resume showing a writer’s history. I learn so much from a resume – the writer’s background, whether or not he or she bounces from job to job, the types of writing done and whether or not they’re a good fit. I also like to see some sort of writing samples – they can be links or scans of printed works or something they typed up the day before. As long as it shows they’re good writers and suited to the task, it doesn’t matter.

4. What makes an applicant stand out as a keeper; or at least someone to interview?

Someone who has experience in the niche. Someone who follows the directions. Someone who took the time to write up a personal response and not just a cookie cutter cover letter. Someone who gets what I do and why I do it. Someone who believes in FWJ (or the current project) and isn’t only taking the job for self promotional reasons.

5. Is there anything that makes you trash an application right away?

“Google Me” applications. Cover letters that are filled with typos. Arrogance. People who forget to remove the name of the person they sent the cover letter to before me. I want to know this job means something to them.

6. What sort of writing experience do you like to see in a potential hire?

They need to know how to complete a sentence, for sure. Write clean and compelling copy. Blogging experience if it’s for a blogging gig.

7. Are there any other blogging/web writing related experiences you’d like to see in a potential hire?

I’m pretty easy. I don’t necessarily have to hire writers fresh from the New York Times, but as this is a writing network, experience in this field is essential – and I’m talking about more than Ezine Article and Associated Content experience.

8. What sort of other experience might you hire someone with – i.e. they don’t have a huge writing portfolio but they do have say life experience in the topic? Would you consider hiring them?

I might hire an English major to write a grammar blog if she doesn’t have much field experience, but I can’t hire a blogger to show others where to find work if they’ve never done so themselves. It depends on the topic, really.

9. What do you wish applicants knew before they applied?

We want more from writers than “Google me”. Sell yourself. Why are YOU good enough to write for MY network. Why should I hire you to work here over all the other applicants. And, for gosh sakes, know a little bit about the place before you send in the details. If you’ve never been here, and it shows, I’m not going to hire you over a productive member of the FWJ community.

10. In order to successfully apply for and possibly score a blog or web writing gig, is there anything else you think it’s important that writers know?

Your potential client will most likely Google you. Be mindful of what you’re putting out there.

AND BACK TO ME…

As I noted in Kori’s interview, I’m holding off on posting my full opinion until I’ve posted all the interviews. Then we can look at client trends. However, note that already Kori and Deb said some of the same things – follow directions, don’t send “Google me” cover letters and seriously, know what a blog is if you’re applying for a blog gig. Hopefully some of this is sinking in.

What do you think of this interview? Did you pick up any handy tips you can use the next time you apply for work?

Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    After reading this article; which, I have to say was fairly insightful (to someone who has just recently taken a sincere interest in this field, professionally), I would also be interested to know if the author has any suggestions as to where an inexperienced english major might go, to determine exact steps to take in order to learn the job inside and out.

    And, whether there are any sites recommended to get a better feel for what is currently popular in blogging (a keeping with the trend type of site)…

    PS: keeping in mind that I have typed this reply on a new keyboard which does not allow for the use of necessary keys such as question marks, and the like… thought I would point that out, especially considering the mention made above regarding proper puncuation, etc… and definately not planning to have this be an issue in the future!

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