I just read a post over at Blog Herald about scoring blogging gigs. The author, Andrew, made an important point – the last time he placed a blog job ad he got over 800 queries. That’s not rare either. Most blog editors I know note that it’s not uncommon to get 100+ queries per position. The point – you’ve got some competition. If you want a gig, you have to be better than the other guys and more importantly stand out. Part of what makes you stand out is timing; as in when you should apply.
Should you check out the site first:
YES. If the gig involves an established blog or site, always check it out first. There are many reasons to do so.
You need to make sure you’re a good fit. You’re not a good fit for every blog out there. Even niche blogs have a specific style and sub-niches. Sometimes you can adjust and other times not. For example, I mostly write on green topics but it’d be stupid for me to apply to a site that focuses on the animal rights side of green living because it’s not an area of green I keep up with, nor is it a sub-topic I care to get become immersed in. I also look for things like post-length, design, and blog roll because it gives me an idea of what the blog’s focus is and if I match up.
It saves you from crappy writing sites. Do you really want to write for a badly written, poorly designed site? No you don’t. It looks bad on your resume and shows that the client is all about the cash not content. Plus, in my experience poorly created sites and blogs are the low payers. You’re better off skipping it. When to ignore this advice – if the site has minor issues that you think could improve with your skills or appears to be in a transition (i.e. the site is being redesigned).
It gives you something to talk about with the client. Sometimes a client will get back to you shockingly fast. If you failed to check out the site before you applied it looks really bad. You should be able to remark quickly about the site to the client. For example, you should be able to spout off the main theme of the site, some positives about it (like what an awesome forum feature!), and have some key topics in mind for when the client asks, “What would you blog about?”
When to apply:
In the above mentioned Blog Herald post, Andrew says he thinks you should wait to apply. He notes, “The bulk of applicants will apply for the freelance blogging job within the first few days that it’s posted. Based on sheer volume, you are likely to get lost in the shuffle. Applying for a job after it has been posted for at least a week might give you a better chance of getting the hiring agent’s attention. Also, I’m a big believer that the first people to apply come across as ‘job board patrollers.’ To me that means they are not interested in a specific job – but any job. And in my world, that takes you out of the running.”
He makes some decent points but I don’t totally agree. First of all, there’s a lot to be said for the check-in. The check-in works like this: you apply when you first see the job then send a follow up a week later. Now, some editors are probably going to hate me for saying this, because why get more email!? Editors are busy. However, this is the tactic I’ve used my whole life both for online and offline jobs and it’s worked for me. You get your name out there that first week, but the follow up check in not only shows you’re still interested but pops your name up in front of the hiring party yet again. If a potential client is mulling over ten appropriate candidates, why not be one of those ten who pops up again? If they’re torn you can help convince them that you’re the one.
I’ve had people tell me that my check in is why I got the gig, so I stick with what works. NOTE if a potential client specifically asks in the ad that people not check in I usually won’t, although, being a big believer in the check-in I sometimes ignore them and check in anyhow. I deal with this on a case-by-case basis.
Secondly, if you wait, the job may be taken off the table. It’s likely that one of the first 100-200 to apply will be an appropriate candidate and so some hiring parties don’t continue to open the emails that follow. Some clients do check each and every email query they get, but not all.
Lastly, some clients are looking to hire quickly. I’ve dealt with drawn out application processes, but I’ve also applied for gigs where the client is looking to hire asap. Every day a blog sits empty is a day it’s not bringing in readers and worse it means loosing the already established reader base. If a blog appears to have just one or two writers I’d apply sooner. Blogs with multiple writers can afford to wait and be more picky during the hiring process.
Do you have any tips about when you should apply for blogging gigs?