How Young Freelance Writers Are Killing Their Chances

Carol Tice

Frustrated writer textingWhen you write an article, I bet you spend some time polishing it up.

But what about when you’re sending a reach-out to a mentor, or a query letter to an editor?

Some writers seem to think the same standards don’t apply there.

For instance, there’s this message I received on LinkedIn recently. Note the subject line:

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 10.24.00 AM

If this was a fluke situation, I wouldn’t be writing this post. But I get these sort of messages — on email, on LinkedIn, on the comments of this blog — on a fairly regular basis.

Bridging writing’s generation gap

So here’s the thing — if you are in your twenties or younger, you probably text a lot with your friends.

Texting with your friends is different from marketing your freelance writing services.

While ripping off a quick text full of misspellings and lacking proper capitalization works fine for deciding where you and your peeps/homies/BFFs/whoever are going to meetup for drinks, it is a quick ticket to nowhere when it comes to pursuing a freelance writing career.

Realize that if you’re pitching an editor at a publication, or a marketing manager at a business, or a mentor you’d like to help you with your career, they are probably not in their twenties.

And those of us who started out before the Internet was born, much less smartphones, do not respond well to your dashing off a quick text that’s full of misspellings and grammar errors.

When I get a message like this, I can only feel you don’t care much about your writing. You can’t even take the time to capitalize your pronouns or the first letters of your sentences!

You are apparently too busy and on-the-go to wait until you’re at home or at a library computer even, to send a carefully wrought paragraph.

What quality of writing work could I possibly expect from you?

To sum up, texting puts your worst foot forward.

I don’t know if this came out so wretched because it’s a text, or because you don’t know how to compose an English sentence. And I’m not going to take the time to find out.

The secret to newbie freelance writing success

Here’s what you need to know to market your services, find clients, and get paid: Everything you write is your audition for writing gigs.

Every marketing email. Every LinkedIn message. Every tweet. Every blog post. The content of your writer website.

When you are trying to make a living as a writer, every word you write anywhere in the universe is part of your portfolio. Not just your published articles.

With great writing, you can make a terrific impression with a query letter and get an assignment at $1 a word, from an editor you’ve never met.

But when you send sloppy writing out like this writer did above, you slam a door in your own face.

Freelance writers always need to think before they hit ‘send.’ If you do, you’ll see your career move forward a lot faster.

Ever texted a writing contact? Leave a comment and tell us whether you think texting is OK for freelancers or not.




  1. Sherry

    I’m always astonished when they become angry with you for correcting their misspellings and obvious grammatical mistakes. And sadly, this texting laziness is not localized to 20-somethings. Many of those in my circle are now also adopting incomplete sentences and run-on thoughts as though they haven’t even considered what they are writing – and similar to you, Carol, these writings are happening across all platforms, from all levels of professionals.

    • Carol Tice

      I know — I just had a new blogger take the time to email me about a post they wanted me to retweet that had a link to one of my posts…and I just couldn’t share it. The entire thing was full of subject-verb disagreements, and small-i “i” statements. It was almost unreadable.

      It was written like a sloppy text he dashed off in 5 minutes! I just think it’s disrespectful to your blog readers to do that…and if you can’t proof it yourself, you should really hire an editor.

      We all understand if the occasional typo slips in, but I think readers expect to see you at least make an effort to present something professionally.

  2. Kerry C

    Wow! I, too, am 27 years old but couldn’t *dream* of letting a message – especially prospect-related – like this go out. Sadly, these are the people that make more experienced generations disregard and denigrate we “millenials” as lazy, entitled brats. At the same time it’s heartening to learn that this can be my “competition.”

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