I'm a freelance writer. I do three types of writing:
1. Writing that I love,
2. writing that I get paid for, and occasionally,
3. writing that I love that I also get paid for.
The writing that I love to do (and that I occasionally get paid for) is the stuff that I wish I had more time for. Right now, I'm spending a lot of time doing the writing that I get paid for. Where do I find this work, you ask? I'll tell you.
Freelance sites. You know, the sites where people go and ask for someone to write something for them for ... whatever they are willing to pay. I frequent several sites, routinely bid on interesting projects, and I get work. A lot of work. Enough work to feed my family and I and pay the mortgage (most months anyhow). And this is where the whole automatic weapon thing comes in.
A few days ago, I bid on a contract to create some quizzes for a client. They asked for some samples of my work, as well as my "writing resume", so I put in a bid, and attached my resume and some quizzes I had created (and which had been published) for children's magazines. I figured that, according to the directions in the job ad, I had complied with the request of the clients. I checked the site a few times, noticed no activity and figured that the client hadn't chosen me. No big.
Today, I got an email from the marketing division of this site. They wanted me to provide this client with "sample health quizzes" with no guarantee that the client would purchase them. The client, they said, wanted people to submit health quizzes. My response to that letter:
"I have provided this client with SAMPLES of other quizzes which I had created for other clients, relating to health (emotional health) and to culinary knowledge. The job description didn't say for me to write two health-related quizzes, nor were there specific directions on which health-related topic the client wanted to focus. There are millions of health topics I could work off of, but I'm not in the habit of writing "on spec" for a project like this. I'm a professional and I'm not going to waste my time on a quiz that might not be what your client wants.
Your client needs to be more specific about what she wants. If she wants a quiz about superfoods, she needs to say so. If she wants a quiz about healthy exercise habits, she needs to say so. If she wants one relating to a particular topic, theme, issue, or relating to her blog, then it would be good if I had that information. Otherwise, I'm writing blind and that's a waste of my time and money."
So ... back to the automatic weapon, and writing and why I'm using that analogy.
When a client wants a writer to work with them, they need to have a clear idea of what they want. If they don't have that clear vision, it's impossible for the writer to create what they want. It's a frustrating experience that makes both the client and the writer unhappy and stressed. Not only that, however, it also makes it impossible for the writer to reach the client's TARGET AUDIENCE.
Yes, see... there is a reason for that weapon of mass destruction. When it comes to writing, I am a "sniper." I don't use an automatic weapon and scatter my shot all over the field. I write to my target audience, to the audience that my client wants me to write to. Whether it's a stay at home parent who wants to lay off on the bonbons, the teenaged guy who wants to get his first job, or the executive who wants to improve his golf game, I write specifically to THEM and to their pains. I use laser accuracy to write to your market, whether you want a short article, a quiz, or an ebook. Whatever. That's MY job.
So if you're a potential client, if you're thinking of hiring a writer, what should you know? You should know who your target market is. You should know their age, gender, education level. You should know whether they prefer chocolate ice cream or vanilla, whether they prefer summer or winter, and what they have for breakfast. When you can pin-point your target, when you can point to their pain and what problem you want to solve for them, you can share your vision with the writer you're going to hire. This makes it possible for your content to reach the right people, the people who are more likely to spend money with you later.
Skip the scatter gun - give me my "rifle" anyday. Now I'm off to the range to practice my shooting... both hands on the keyboard!