Dear Writer Gig Applicants, Please Stop Doing This

In honor of my return to work after a long weekend, I’m doing a post related to my job.

Dear Writer Gig Applicants,

Occasionally, I’m asked to evaluate the sample articles that you submit to us. It’s not a particularly difficult task; but sometimes it can be really frustrating. Why? It’s because some of you out there try out for writing jobs without actually respecting what it entails.

I've had a migraine/headache for 6 days straig...
Those people give me a headache. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve come across some really good writers in my evaluations. But it feels like a lot of you think that writing sentences, paragraphs, and articles is simply a matter of putting words right next to each other – grammar and logic be damned. It’s not that easy, guys. Writing content for the web is all about communication. If you can’t get your message across properly, then that means you aren’t really a writer – at least, not the kind of writer that deserves to get paid more than $5 for his or her work.

If you want to actually get decent money for writing articles, you need to stop doing the stuff below:

Assuming that this is a piece of cake

It’s not. You have to think about what you’re writing. You have to know about what you’re writing. At the very least, you have to be very conscientious with your grammar and spelling. If your plan is to just type whatever pops into your head, then you can’t expect to be hired by an employer that takes its content extremely seriously. And believe me, EVERYONE IS STARTING TO TAKE THEIR CONTENT SERIOUSLY THESE DAYS.

A small mistake like using “they’re” instead of “their” can ruin a company’s reputation, so they’re less likely to tolerate stuff like that from people they might hire. Jumping from one topic to another mid-way through the sentence is also a no-go – it devalues the article, which makes Google and the like consider it as inferior. Believe me when I tell you that clients won’t like that either. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) still counts for something these days, and, given how important good content has become for search engines, articles that look like absolutely no work had been put into them are likely to be ignored.

Assuming that big words count for a lot

Remember back in school, when we used to stuff our essays and papers with jargon and highfalutin words so we’ll sound smart and stuff even if we don’t necessarily understand what those words mean? Yeah, that won’t work in this case. Again, the point of writing for the web is to communicate information as clearly as possible. This isn’t about trying to impress someone with your knowledge (not even understanding) of certain words; it’s about trying to impress someone with your ability to EXPLAIN stuff.

I’m not saying that you should use small words all the time; I’m just saying that people don’t have patience for people who use big words without helping the readers understand what the word actually means. You think it makes you look smart? Wrong. It makes you look like a pretentious jerk. Especially if you used the word wrong.

Which, by the way, you often do.

Assuming that everyone should hire you

Of course, it’s perfectly possible that you think that you’re the best writer in the whole wide world. You won awards for scholastic journalism and stuff. Your school paper published a couple of your poems back in high school. You’re an artist, and how dare I tell you that your work is not up to my company’s standards!

*sigh*

Listen. Writing poetry and articles for your school magazine is very different from writing stuff for a company’s blog or website. Those have completely different standards. The academic publications may value long, rambling sentences, but web writing requires you to be more straightforward. When people like me tell you that your writing style isn’t up to the company’s standards, it’s not because we’re bitchy. It’s because IT’S REALLY NOT WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR. I’m not bullying you. I’m telling you the truth. It’s not about you or me. It’s about what the company wants or needs, and you’re not it. There’s no place for ego in this case.

I hope that, if you’re really gunning for a career in writing, this does not put you off. My real purpose for writing this is to let you know what it takes to have a potentially long-lasting career in web content creation – hard work, clarity, and humility. You can’t go wrong with these things. God willing, this means that we can find ourselves working together someday.

Sincerely,

Elea (Your Friendly Neighborhood Web Content Writer)

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