Behold! For I am Lizistrata! Master of Degrees! Keeper of the Keys of English! Weaver of Words and Planter of Obscure References in Opening Lines of Blog Posts! (honk if you get it).
I am amongst the newly minted graduates of English programs. I am trained to field-strip Victorian novels and reload Modernist poems in seconds flat. I am also trained to teach the most obscure of arts – Having a Thought and Writing it Down - to over-caffienated, over-hormoned first year students.
In addition to making all the things, I can write all the things. I can do it regularly, with quality, verve, and style. And I can do it clearly and nicely, despite all the silly syntax and punnery here. And I can also tell other people how to do the same.
Once, I thought it would be nice to be paid to do this very thing. The internet seemed like a verdant field of opportunity for writers. But the reality is complicated, as realities tend to be. Unless you have a constellation of experience, training, and contacts, you are going to have to work very hard to parlay writing into any sort of job online. Churning out words isn’t enough.
Except when it is. I was looking at Craigslist and similar venues for postings for writers, and I noticed a lot of listings for content generation. Apparently just producing line after engaging, SEO-rich line is enough. But not too many lines, because no one reads these things! (LOLZ, as the kids say)
Ever searching for patterns and something to complain about, I swiftly noted several features of these ads that perturbed me. I may not have professional experience writing, but I have common sense. And that common sense is steering me away from many of these want ads.
Startups, blogs, zines, mags – I want to write for you. I would love to. It’s ok if you’re new to this, since I am too. But if you want people to give you quality work, you have to take some things into account. Because I’m nice, I want to make some concrete suggestions to anyone looking for a writer. How can you more effectively approach writers?
Name your publication, please.
I can understand online anonymity. Believe me, I get the rationale behind hiding certain contact info. But if you are a business entity, I need a name. I want to google you, or (even better) email you and find out who you are, how you run your thing, and what you’re about.
The internet is a vast and varied landscape, and there are many wonderful legitimate publications out there. I’m really comfortable with online communication, but I’m not naïve enough to hand over my info to a nameless, faceless entity.
Don’t ask for the keys to my castle
Ok, you want to hire a writer, so you want to see a blog, site, or other collection. No sweat. You want to know what I’m capable of, and I want to show you. Asking for a link for something like this would be totally fine.
What’s not fine, and comes across as a big red flag, is asking for me to log in with one of my online/social network identities. Why on earth would I connect my personal online activities to an entity I’ve only just heard of? You do realize if you ask for my Skype, Facebook, or whatever that I’m going to create a dummy one in case you’re a spam bot, right?
I don’t care how social, networked, or viral the kids are these days. You want my professional ability, you get my professional face. That’s that.
Proof that stuff!
If you want a writer, proofread your ad. Have it go through several hands, listen to constructive criticism. Those of us that work with words, however much or however little professional experience we have, we see that stuff. And I’m not even talking about obscure grammar points: I mean basic competency in written communication.
When I see an ad that with misspellings, and that is poorly formatted, and unclear, I think that the poster doesn’t care. And I don’t submit a resume, because I get the distinct message that they don’t want to invest the time in asking for a job, so I figure that they won’t invest the time in their employees or product.
So what’s the takeaway?
I’m aware of the fact that I, with little professional writing experience , am giving orders to the illustrious employers of the intertubes. It’s a little odd. But there’s no end of “how to write” or “how to get hired” articles. It’s high time to see this from the job-seekers’ point of view.
So it’s really quite simple. Introduce yourself, as it were, respect the boundaries of your pool of potential employees, and show us all that you care enough to make the ad look good.
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