How to Respond to Writer Applications

Usually when you receive a writing application the writer is putting their best foot forward.

You’re the 10th job they’ve applied for today, so they’ve taken time to proofread their application carefully. They make sure you receive the best examples of their work and the right references.

But, you really want to uncover the truth: Can they write? And, can they write for you?

Having a back and forth email discussion actually ends up being a writing test. You’ll also learn about the writer and whether they’re responsive to your questions.

How to Respond to Writer Applications?

There are plenty of writers looking for work, and there are also a few scammers looking for a gap in your armour. We try our best to weed out the scammers. One way of doing that is to go back and forth with a few emails.

By going back and forth with a few emails we are able to:

Learn whether the applicant wants to be a writer or just wants a job.

The latter is not as appealing to anyone looking to hire. People who actually want to be writers are more likely to complete your training and stay with your business for the long-term.

Some people think they because they have fingers and went to school that they are a writer. Or, they have a background in marketing and desperately need a job. We deliberately avoid hiring people who aren’t actually interested in being a better writer.

Your goal, as you work through this process, is to learn whether the provided samples are a true indication of the writer’s work or whether they have been professionally edited.

Sometimes writers will provide a blog URL for their work. Sometimes an Editor has taken bad writing and made it much better. So, the sample is not a true indication of the writer’s ability. When you go back and forth on emails you’ll be able to see whether the writer can communicate well in the email.

What Questions Should You Ask?

If the writer’s application email and samples are readable then it’s time to collect more information.

We like to go back-and-forth at least 3 or 4 times before accepting writers into the CopySmithes team.

We like to know who they are, learn a bit about them and get social proof, get more examples of their work (if we’re undecided) E.g. LinkedIn profile etc.

Some questions you can ask:

  • Can they send through another three writing samples?
  • What did they do in their previous work?
  • Do they write for any content agencies?
  • Are they enjoying their writing work?
  • What’s their favourite writing topic?
  • What’s their least favourite writing experience?
  • How did they get into writing?
  • Are they studying at university?
  • Do they have a writing passion project?

Go back and forth a few times until we feel like we know them.

As you go back and forth the writer is essentially doing a secret writing test for you. They are writing and communicating. Can they write? Are their sentences confusing? Do they even reply to your questions?

Why Is a Second Set of Writing Samples Important?

Obviously, you will ask the writer for samples of their work. They will send their best samples through.

But wait. There’s more.

In your second email, ask for a second set of samples. Ask for their most recent work, preferably as a Google Document.

Why?

Most writers will initially send article samples that have already been professionally edited by an agency, blogger, editor, proofreader or whoever they worked for previously.

If the pieces have already been professionally edited you won’t get a true indication of the applicants writing ability. It will be difficult for you to tell the difference.

I have found that when we ask for a second set of writing samples we end up with the writer’s raw, unedited work. We are then able to assess how much editing their work will require before it is publishable.