One of the best ways to figure out what clients are looking for in a blogger/web writer is to directly ask the folks hiring what they look for during the hiring process. I’ve asked four individuals who are in charge of hiring bloggers and web writers for sites or projects to answer some questions for me. I asked all of them the same questions. If you’re new to applying this is a fabulous way to learn what to do and more importantly what NOT to do when applying for gigs.
The first set of questions were answered by Kori Ellis. Kori is the Senior Editor for b5media. She hires bloggers for several of their properties including Bizzia.com, Blisstree.com, EveryJoe.com and Splendicity.com. She’s also a freelance writer for several websites, blogs and magazines including SheKnows.com, About.com and many others.
If you’ve been looking for work and have had little luck, seriously pay attention to Kori’s answers below – this is what clients are looking for in a blogger or web writer folks. Trust me, Kori has been in this biz long enough to know.
1. When you have one open blogger / web writer position OR an open query topic, how many applications do you estimate you receive?
If it’s a tough position to fill, I usually put the word out through ProBlogger. If I do that, I get an incredible amount of candidates — several hundred. If it’s a position that might be a little more specific, I sometimes go to message boards about the topic, writing forums and other places to get candidates. In that case, I probably get less inquiries — usually at least 100 though.
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?
I would say about 15% actually follow the directions, which obviously can be frustrating. My instructions are never difficult but most people don’t read them through, I guess.
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?
Resumes are optional. I prefer to read a brief email that includes a handful of links to relevant work. If you haven’t had experience writing or blogging about the specific subject matter, then the email should sell me on your passion for the topic and other relevant experience.
4. What makes an applicant stand out as a keeper; or at least someone to interview?
Enthusiasm for the topic and a general understanding about how blogging works. Also, someone who is personable. I have had far too many applicants start out emails with “You will regret it if you don’t hire me.” or something along those lines. Some people seem to think that it’s my job to go looking for information about them. For example, I have had several emails say, “I’m interested in your blogging position. Google my name to see some of my work. Thanks.”
Don’t get me wrong…I will definitely Google you anyway; I Google everyone. But if you can’t bother to provide links to your work, tell me something about yourself, or at least write one paragraph in the email, why would I think you could find time to blog?
5. Is there anything that makes you trash an application right away?
I trash emails that are littered with typos/spelling errors. I also trash anything with a salutation of just “Sir:” I don’t expect people to figure out that I’m a female named Kori. But, if you don’t know, then please don’t assume every hiring manager is a man.
Obviously, I also trash emails that are considerably out of our pay range. Though I usually give the applicant a courtesy response.
I read every email that I receive. I sometimes don’t respond to them all until I’m done hiring. Then, I send out a mass email saying that I have hired out of courtesy.
6. What sort of writing experience do you like to see in a potential hire?
I would love it if everyone could have blogging experience on topic and have used WordPress. I don’t necessarily need people that have blogged for years, but I’d like some blogging experience. But you aren’t out of the running completely if you haven’t blogged. If you have written online or in print, can show me some writing samples or some sort, you are still in the running.
7. Are there any other blogging/web writing related experiences you’d like to see in a potential hire?
Generally, I’d like people to be familiar with SEO, or at least know what it is. A big part of getting traffic, as you know, is getting good search engine placement. I am more than willing to get more in depth with bloggers about it once they are hired. However, they should have a general idea with the concept. Also, most bloggers should have a photo editing program and be able to crop/re-size photos, etc.
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 would hire them, but they’d really have to sell me that they could do the job. If they have absolutely no writing experience, I’d ask them to write a short sample post to see their writing style. I don’t usually like to do this because I know applicants don’t want to write free samples. But if you have nothing to show me, I can’t really get a feel of your tone, style and knowledge.
9. What do you wish applicants knew before they applied?
I wish they’d understand that the competition is tough. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t awesome if you don’t get hired. And it doesn’t mean that you should email me every day until I answer your initial inquiry. Sometimes, it takes a while to go through all the applications. I usually do a courtesy email once I have hired for the position to let all the applicants know that it has been filled. But that email might not come for several weeks (and sometimes longer).
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?
If you don’t have any experience blogging, start your own personal blog. Rather than ranting about your daily activities, write it on a specific topic. Later, you can use your blog as a sample of your work.
If you have a great idea for a blog on one of our sites, feel free to pitch it to me. I can’t assure that we can start a blog for you right away, but I’m always open to ideas.
I have also hired a few of our guest bloggers into paid blogging positions in the past few months. Therefore, don’t be afraid to reach out to a site that you want to write for and offer a free guest post (in exchange for a link back to your own site). It’s a great way to show the editor the type of work that you can do and may land you a gig down the line.
AND – BACK TO ME:
I’m going to hold off commenting in full about our guest clients until I’ve posted all their answers, but I will say this right now, already I’m guessing there’s going to be a reoccurring theme of applicants who don’t follow directions. I’ve heard this from other editors a lot. So the next time you apply for a gig, make sure you read the job posting in full before you apply. It could be the difference between getting or not getting that job you want. I also want to point out that Kori mentions writing one sample post or suggests that you offer one free guest post. As an editor in the know, she’s not saying go out and work for free or cheap all the time; that’s not necessary to score a gig. Lastly, stay tuned. In the following days we’ll see how other hiring individuals answer these same questions plus see more tips in our how to get a job series.
NOW TO YOU…
Did Kori say anything that surprised you? After reading her thoughts will you be changing how you apply for jobs at all? If so let us know in the comments.