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How to NOT get Hired for a Blogging Job

Looking for a Blogging Job? Today Lynn Truong (co-founder of Personal Finance blog Wise Bread) gives some tips on how to apply for one.

I’ve read thousands of blogging applications over the last few years. And while explaining what I look for in a blogger is pretty much like trying to pinpoint what one looks for in a mate – generic and unhelpful for any prospects – I can very clearly describe what prompts me to put an application in the “no” pile before I even finish reading it. Unfortunately, these are the applications I get more than any others. Eight out of ten applications inevitably go into the trash because of the following.

1. Write in no caps.

Yes, you’re only applying to a blog, but we still publish all our posts with capital letters and proper grammar. Hit that shift key when you start a sentence, and refer to yourself as I, not i. This is a real, paying gig, so be professional.

2. Use the word blog incorrectly.

A blogger is so much more than a writer, so if you don’t understand this, at least don’t announce it. You can use blog as a verb. I blog frequently is fine. You can also refer to our site as a blog. After all, we are looking for a blogger. But never call a post or an article, a blog. Don’t tell me you can write several blogs for us per day. Don’t say you’ve attached sample blogs. When in doubt, just use write or articles or site instead.

3. Provide one link to your blog as writing samples.

It is human nature to be proud of every post on your blog. Selecting just a few for sampling purposes might feel like I’m asking you to pick a favorite child. However, it is not possible for me to look through your entire repertoire. By selecting two or three of your best posts, you are showing me that you know how to identify great content, and that you’ve put some thought and effort into the application. I also use the samples to determine how well you understand the type of posts that fit well on our site.

4. Let me know I can request writing samples.

Nothing tells me that you’re sending out mass emails to any publisher around like an email that says “writing samples can be provided by request.” My job posting only asks for two things: topic ideas and writing samples. Don’t write me a long cover letter explaining why you’re perfect for the job, attach your resume (which I didn’t ask for), and then say that I can request writing samples. Why would I bother hiring anybody I already know I’ll need to ask twice for anything?

5. Spell our site name incorrectly.

If the job description says Wise Bread, please don’t write Wisebread.

6. Ask me the next day whether I’ve gotten your application.

My autoreply message specifically says that we can’t respond to every single applicant, but that we appreciate every application and will consider each one carefully. During a recruiting round, I get hundreds of applications a day, on top of the daily load of regular emails. I honestly don’t know if I’ve gotten your application. Most likely I haven’t even read it yet. All I can do is tell you the exact thing my autoreply already did: “We’ll let you know if we find a good fit.” I know you want to show that you are a person who takes the initiative, but what you’re actually doing is slowing down the process for everyone.

7. Give me a 31 page writing sample.

Don’t send me your college thesis. I won’t have time to read it and your application won’t be considered.

8. Be a mercenary.

I know serious freelancers write for multiple sites. But if you tell me you write for 20 different sites, and can do 10 articles a day for us, you’re telling me that you’re just a content machine who’s only concerned about your ROI.

9. Give me irrelevant writing samples.

You might not have any samples that fit our site’s topic, but at least pick samples that have the proper tone, length, and style. I don’t want a press release, letter of recommendation, or book report you thought was fantastic (although these can be included as extra samples to show your range).

10. Tell me your life story.

Getting to know bloggers and connecting with them on a personal level is my favorite part of the job. The cover letter is a way to let your personality shine through, as well as make you stand out in the sea of generic cover letters. However, your cover letter is not the appropriate place to talk about your personal problems or struggles that are not related to the position. Please only give me relevant experiences and tell me how you feel about our site. Keep it professional, please.

11. Ask for more information without including an application.

Sometimes I get an email that says “I’d like to apply, but would like to get more information first.” I understand that some writers are wary about sending writing samples, because some unscrupulous site burned you before and published your samples without your permission. But you have to tell me what additional information you are looking for, so I can properly respond.

Concluding Thoughts

Many bloggers miss out on great gigs because they simply don’t take the application process seriously. Sure, blogs generally aren’t as corporate and stuffy. I might be in my PJs reading your application in bed, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not looking for bloggers who show professionalism.

Keep in mind that writing for a quality blog can really raise your profile. Many of the great bloggers we have hired from the Problogger Job Board get frequent mentions and interviews from major news outlets like the New York Times, ABC, FOX, CNBC, and Self Magazine. Many of our bloggers also contributed to our upcoming book, 100,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, which will allow them to put the coveted “published author” designation on their resumes. It is therefore worth your effort to complete a professional and compelling application.

My biggest tip for anyone applying for a blogging job (any job, really) is to read the job posting carefully. All the information and instructions you need is there, so just pay attention. It’s fine to send extra information and materials, but make sure to include everything that is asked for.

I hope these tips can prevent otherwise talented bloggers from missing out on great blogging opportunities!

Lynn Truong is co-founder of Wise Bread, a top Personal Finance site that helps readers live large on a small budget.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. That’s a whole lot of ways to live large on a small budget. 10,0001.

    You never see that many in books.

    It stands out. Even if you didn’t mean it, it works for your marketing efforts!

  2. Walt says:

    AMEN to #2!! I can’t even begin to tell you how much that annoys me…

  3. Wow, that’s a very informative post. Thanks for the tips m8.

  4. redwall_hp says:

    “If the job description says Wise Bread, please don’t write Wisebread.”

    What about “Wise Beard”? :)

  5. Dan Long says:

    This is some great information..Common sense people!!

  6. lol with the wisebread … :)

  7. Mike says:

    I think problem is that a lot of people don’t take blogger job seriously. May be after this post at least some of them will understand that they should write applications more carefully then they are applying for such job.

  8. The Dark says:

    This whole page is like a “can you find what is wrong in this picture” puzzle.

    First, there is an inappropriate use of your vs. you’re in the article.

    The 3 lines after “10,0001 Ways to” have bad spacing. (Appears in Firefox and IE.)

    By 10,0001, do you mean “ten thousand and one” or do you mean “one hundred thousand and one?”

    Did you notice that the author name at the top (written by Darren Rowse) does not match that given at the bottom (Lynn Truong?)

    Last, what the heck time zone is this blog in? The date and time on the comment above mine reads “March 11, 2009 8:31 AM”.

    Do I have too much time on my hands? I found all this in 15 minutes. Can anybody find more?

  9. Great tips that everyone should know, not just for blogging jobs.

  10. Josten says:

    very good tips. Wil definitely use them.

  11. Jake says:

    Interesting takes on those writers applying. I am a little surprised that some people would do some of these.

    -Jake

  12. This is a really great post and it covers everything you need to be hired as a blogger. Thanks Darren for such a great guest post. I am not looking for work as I have my own blog and I am getting it up but what I will use the tips given in this post to write on my blog.
    ———————————————————-
    Mohammad Afaq
    Free Website Traffic

  13. jeff says:

    good advice. i hope you don’t mind if i write in lowercase, it’s been a long day. i’m reading your pro-blogger book, and it’s inspiring. thanks.

  14. Darren Rowse says:

    The Dark – you may have a little too much time on your hands. I’ve fixed a couple of those errors. This blog is in my time zone – Melbourne Australia. As the editor of the blog I’ve chosen to keep the blog in my timezone as I think most bloggers do. In terms of author – this is a guest post, as with all our guest posts I upload them and so the author name is mine – but we have credits at the top and bottom to the author.

  15. Thanks for covering your ideas for submitting an application. I’ve just recently tried applying for blogging jobs and I think the “Stretching yourself thin” thing is my number one concern. I wouldn’t want to be writing for 20 blogs, but regular work is nice. I think the “life story” thing would probably be one of my biggest pet peeves.

  16. This is an excellent list…..I hope that anyone who I consider hiring as a writer has already read this and thought it was as obvious as I did!

    Sadly, the number of people who fall into both categories is probably tiny…..these days, I’d be rather quite happy with just one or the other.

  17. Great tips, Lynn.

    I think for some people, especially if they haven’t written professionally before or if it’s been a while, forget that while the Internet is largely casual, applying for a job shouldn’t be.

  18. I really agree that people asking me that what happened, did I qualify or not is really aggravating and it makes you mad. I am receiving about 20th email that did I qualify for your new ebook (I am selecting people to give it free even before the official realease). Nice tips and they really work.

    Thanks.
    ————————————————————–
    Mohammad Afaq

  19. @ The Dark — Americo-centric much?

  20. Well these are the tinny crteria but if you are not healthy on this than how anybody can expect you to be good at other things.

    Thanks for point out these important point, although I am also strict to these rules but you have added few important points as well and alert me to do better. :)

  21. Agent 001 says:

    Nice post. Point 2 was a little funny for me.

    I believe point 3 and 4 are very important.

    By the who is this “The Dark”. I guess he has not linked to his website. Looks like a psycho in search of errors. He has no idea about blogging.

  22. Peter Davis says:

    Nearly all of the applicants to my recent job posting on the job boards made one or more of the mistakes you mention. Plus a litany of other things you didn’t cover.

  23. Salwa says:

    Thanks for covering your ideas for submitting an application. This is something I have been thinking of doing so it is very helpful reading your list now.

  24. Lynn, thanks! This is helpful. Although it’s amazing that some of that needs to be said. I’m forwarding this to a few friends who are applying for writing gigs.

  25. Great tips, Lynn! These are common sense tips, however, I think many people get too used to the casualness of the internet and forget the need for professionalism. A must read for anyone applying for a blogging job.

    By the way, #2 is a real big pet peeve of mine as well.

  26. Agent SEO says:

    @Musings….

    I also agree that much of this falls under the “Just Be Professional” category. It is amazing to me how many people have no concept of how to portray themselves professionally.

    These are great tips for anyone who is trying to get a blogging job…

  27. Great tips. Although I have never been in the market to hire bloggers I wouldn’t be suprised to find that you get bombarded with huge amounts of writing.

    Great article to remember if I ever am looking for a blogging job. Thanks!

  28. Max says:

    Great list of what not to do. Finding a blogger is kinda like finding a mate. hmmm

    Max

  29. Ivan says:

    Proper application etiquette is not taught. Most people do not learn any etiquette at all. I don’t believe the web is lowering the level of people’s literary competence, just showing how low we have already sunk.

    Ivan

  30. Vera Lang says:

    Do I sense a ‘tat’ of frustration through this article? Honestly, you made me smile, as anyone who has ever hired people realizes just how many people don’t follow basic instructions.

    Choose your candidate intuitively and wisely.

  31. Lynn Truong says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    I actually think that most of the candidates that make one or more of the mentioned mistakes are really qualified and have the potential to be a great hire.

    I wrote this not to disparage applicants. Some of the bad things that applicants do weren’t mentioned because they’re done by bad applicants, plain and simple.

    But these are mistakes sometimes made by good, qualified writers who are either lazy or have lost hope and confidence in themselves, so they half ass their application and ultimately creates a vicious cycle of being rejected and then losing more confidence.

    At the very least, these tips should get your application past the first cut.

  32. Steve G says:

    In reference to #2 since blog is a shortening of web log, I believe a post can be referred to as a blog. A log can refer to a group of records (like a ship captain’s log) or any of the individual recordings. Thoughts?

  33. Eddie Gear says:

    Hi there,

    This is something that I would try out implimenting.

    Cheers,
    Eddie Gear

  34. Eric says:

    Seems like all reasonable suggestions to me. Good post, for those that need it :)

  35. mmm Great, Now I know what to do and what not to do when applying for a Blog Job, if I ever do

  36. Terry Heath says:

    Glad you said that about calling blog posts blogs. You’re so right but I’ve seen more and more people refer to posts as blogs.

    No! You can write a post on your blog, but you can’t write a blog on your blog unless you’ve dedicated a blog to your blog. And that of course makes absolutely no sense if a blog is a blog post.

  37. D. A. Shaver says:

    #8 I think a one-page article per day is a challenge. I can’t imagine 20

    #1 My wife is an elementary school teacher, she hates it when signs and public documents purposely use lower case. How am I supposed to teach capitalization with examples like that?

  38. earnword says:

    haha. i agree with you.. :D

  39. dgibson says:

    Good points overall. The only one I disagree with is this:

    “A blogger is so much more than a writer”

    Perhaps it’s because I was advertising for writers. But those who wrote and said they were interested in the blogging job come across to me as more amateurish. The pro writers as well as journalism, communications, and English college students have all worked out great, whereas those who call themselves bloggers have been a mixed bag quality-wise in my experience.

  40. But will you please tell us … these are your main criteria to choose a blogger. I mean I saw so many bloggers who are weak in this kind of stuff but when they deliver they are really awesome.

    So if you want to have a bigger portion than you will have to leave smaller one …

    Any thought on this …

  41. Ambit Energy says:

    Great tips. The basic guidelines of a blog should always be met.

  42. Francisco says:

    Wow…I guess I just have to work a bit harder to be recognized. Thanks a lot for the tips!

  43. Formula-193 says:

    This mean good in English still the first priority for the good blog.

  44. I just wanted to leave a quick comment to thank you for your post! I really like your blog site!!! Would you mind terribly if I put up a backlink from my site to your site? Keep up the great work!

  45. I was pleased to find that while I don’t blog very often, I at least know the difference between a blog and a post. :) (which I almost always refer to as blog posts)

    #5 bugs me so much when people don’t get it right. Ask if you have to, but that’s something you simply shouldn’t be messing up when applying.

  46. Beautyshells says:

    LOVE your site, will visit again :) Submitted this post to Google News Reader.

  47. Ronny says:

    I’m curious, how long should a writing sample be? Coz a blog post can be really long and short. Thanks.

  48. Renee says:

    Yeah since reading through this site I now know the difference between a blog and a post ;- ) Thanks