Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Linda Yvette Chavez, VP of Editorial Content at Comediva.com.
How do you do, readers of the C2C? I’m excited to chat with creative folks like you and help your book jacket dreams come true–even if I have to drag you toward them kicking and screaming! I’m persistent that way, just ask Ollin.
Who am I and why do I give a damn about you if I don’t know you from Adam? I’m a writer, a creative spirit, a pursuer of elusive dreams and … oh yeah, I’m an editor that may hire you one day.
Now, you can get hired the hard way by reading this post or you can do it the easy way by having cupcakes delivered to my office. No? Didn’t bite? Dang. Did I mention I’m the editor of a female-driven comedy website called Comediva? Me likey the jokes.
But back to making your dreams come true.
Most of you are writers writing novels. Beautiful! I’ve been there. My writing experience runs the gamut from narrative prose to my most recent adventures in screenwriting and online web content. I know what it’s like to ride the creative rainbow toward that distant pot o’ gold. But more importantly, I know what it’s like to try to pay the bills on your way there.
Other C2C guests have suggested you freelance-writeyourwaytowardyourdreams. Agreed! While some have given you tips on how to get work at print magazines, I’ll speak more to the task of bringing home the bacon writing for the internet.
My motto: “Don’t give them any reason to reject you. Give them every reason to hire you.” So, here are some DOs and DON’Ts for applying and/or submitting work to a website’s editor.
Writers who do their research about the site they’d like to write for don’t waste an editor’s time. And believe you me, time is of the essence for any editor working in a medium, like the internet, that runs at the speed of light. Research = brownie points.
Things to consider while researching:
Who reads this website?! Is it hairless dog lovers in New Hampshire? Punk rock, breast-feeding mamas in San Antonio? Who follows their Twitter and Facebook accounts? Resources like Quantcast.com can give you even more details.
Don’t even THINK about submitting to a website without first reading some of their content. It’s always painfully obvious when a writer hasn’t taken the time to understand the website, its content or its goals.
A website’s writer’s guidelines are usually tucked away on the site somewhere. Find them. Read them. Guidelines will usually spell out the website’s style, voice and format. Learn them, inside and out. Your editor will be at once impressed and relieved.
The Cover Letter
Similar to submitting a query letter to a magazine, some websites may ask for a cover letter when submitting content. Cover letters are solicited for more than the purpose of hearing a writer say, “Yo, I’m interested. Give me the gig!” Instead, use a cover letter to make the editor fall head-over-heels in love with your awesomeness.
Cover Letters Are Writing Samples
“Wait, but I’m already submitting writing samples! What do you mean?” Your cover letter will be the very first thing an editor reads from you. Make it count by crafting your cover letter in a voice and style that resembles their website’s. Our site delivers comedy, so humorous cover letters that captured our voice received my full attention.
Pitch Your Passion, But Keep It Brief
Express why you’re passionate about the website you’d like to work for. Find that nugget of zeal, even if it’s as small as, “I love punk rock music by breastfeeding mamas! Woman power!” Passionate writers make strong impressions.
Pitch Your Experience, But Keep It Brief
Have you written for other sites? Do you have fabulous degrees from amazing universities? Do you have a huge social network thanks to your popular blog? Awesome; let the editor know. Website editors are also looking to DRIVE TRAFFIC to the site. Fantastic writers with established fans, even if a few, are great! It means you’re a 2-for-1. The editor gets both a great writer and new visitors to the site.
The Writing Sample
Here’s your golden ticket to freelance heaven. But it all depends on how much of your writing gold you invest.
Samples Should Reflect The Site’s Style
If you don’t have samples that fit the website’s style, write one. Here’s where all that research comes into play. Show the editor you could jump into writing for her website that very instance and deliver.
Brevity Is Beautiful
Editors read loads of writing samples. No, really. Think about how much you read daily, now multiply that by a trillion. Feel me? Though your four-page, single-spaced writing sample could be a bite-sized piece of pure genius to a layperson, to an editor it can be a reading nightmare. Five-hundred words of brilliance will get you further than a three page short story.
How to Keep The Work Coming
Yes! You did it. You snagged a gig writing for a website, but now you’d like to keep the work coming. How do you do it? BE UNIQUE, BE CLEAR, BE BRIEF in everything you submit. BE DILIGENT, BE CONSISTENT, BE QUICK AND PRODUCE in a timely manner. DRIVE TRAFFIC to your content. If an editor sees your work is popular, she’ll want more of it.
A writer that can do all of these things is a writer that delivers. She’s also the type of writer I want working for me.
What’s the most candid question you wish you could ask an editor? Ask me in the comments below and I’ll pop in to answer it!