Planning on applying to WriterAccess? Please let me know if I steered you that direction, and please mention that Delany M. sent you! I don’t get any $ for doing this blog, and a few referral bonuses would go a long way in the WordChick household – THANK YOU! ❤
(Did you miss Part 1? No worries – Catch up on the WriterAccess Basics!)
Welcome to Part 2, fellow WA-er! Now that we’ve covered pay and you know what to expect from that, it’s time to tackle best practices for the site itself. Here are my 4 commandments for getting the most out of your WA career:
1.) Don’t ever let an order expire. Yes, ever. If you’ve come from other writing sites where you could let an order expire and snap it back up, or if you had to let a LOT of orders expire before you got into any real trouble, rest assured – you’re not in Kansas anymore.At WA, timing is a big deal and even letting one order run out of time unheeded can become a substantial obstacle on your path to higher star levels. That being said, know that picking up an order from the board and actively returning it within an hour will not subject you to penalty – WA gives us this 60 minute grace period to do a little research-digging and make sure we’re capable/willing to do that particular project. Remember that WA offices run on the EST time zone, double-check when your article is *actually* due, and set an alarm in your phone if you need to. If you have a legitimate question on the order, you can ask the client a question, which puts the order on “pause” – after they answer the question and release the hold, you’ll have either the time that was left on the clock to finish it, or, if that time left was under 12 hours, you’ll have an additional 12 hours to finish it.
2.) Don’t leave your profile blank or underdeveloped. I know it can be tedious, making these profiles and lists of specialties and achievements for writing site after writing site, but it definitely makes a difference at WA – clients and WA staff alike will use these profiles to determine who works on certain projects. The site asks you to write in the 3rd person for your profile blurbs – for example, I wouldn’t say, “I love to write about cats.” but I would say something along the lines of, “Delany specializes in covering felines in her work, and has been a featured writer in Important Cat Magazine for the last 3 years.” While my own WriterAccess profile is constantly in need of tinkering and updating, feel free to take a look in order to determine good word counts for each section and overall tone. As with any writing site, do not include your full name and do not put any contact info, such as emails or phone numbers, anywhere in your profile.
3.) Don’t despair if the boards look empty. A few years back, there was a big shift from “Open Orders” – orders placed in such a way that anyone of the appropriate star level or above could claim them – to “Casting Calls.” Casting calls (CCs) are when a client posts information and even jobs that they need completed, but individual writers need to put in a note to be considered for those jobs. This is just a note or a few lines, this is not where you would write the piece! Don’t write any articles until you actually pick up a job. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can talk about a rough outline or talking points, but remember – your acceptance isn’t guaranteed and you may be wasting hard work. A typical Casting Call application for me is something like:
“Hello! My name is Delany, and I have worked in (client’s industry) as a writer for several prior clients. I understand (industry concept) very well, and I would like to help educate your readers on (actual concept they’re holding the CC for). Thanks for considering my application!”
The client and/or their WA account rep will sift through these notes and typically choose one or several of the applicants for their job(s). Depending on how many writers are selected, the job(s) may be sent as a “Solo Order,” which means that only one chosen writer can see, take and work on that job, or the client may add multiple winning writers to a “Love List” (LLs) – a designation that acts as a filter when they release – “drop” – their job(s) to be picked up. If you are on a client’s Love List, you will be able to see and take their jobs, while those that weren’t added to the Love List won’t see anything at all.
The Love List process is a little unusual in the freelance writing sphere, so bear with me while I explain. You can be added arbitrarily (say, if a client likes your profile) to a Love List, or may “win” a position on one by applying to a Casting Call (you can always check the status of your CC applications under the “Manage Orders” tab on the left of your logged-in WA screen.) When the client “drops” their jobs to their Love List writers, you will receive an automatic email notifying you that those jobs are about to post. Exactly ten minutes after that email arrives, the jobs will actually post. Use the in-between time to get situated at a computer or phone, log into WriterAccess, and be ready to refresh the screen (the F5 key on a computer works best) continually about a half a minute before the 10-minute mark is up. If there are a lot of writers on a Love List, the jobs may go unbelievably quickly (like, within-seconds quickly), but keep at it and don’t stop responding to the emails. Believe me when I tell you that many WA “old timers” have gone through the button-smashing routine, and many of us still do! It’s an important step in getting access to clients, and building a rapport that can lead to a string of solos later on.
4.) Carry yourself as a representative of WA. The fact of the matter is that if the clients feel disrespected or as if their needs don’t matter, they can easily head to a competitor or find a dirt-cheap ESL writer on a bid site. They’ve come to WA because they want great writing (we kind of have a really great reputation going on) and the customer service that comes with it. So when you’ve finished a piece, add a comment that expresses a little gratitude – “Thanks for the opportunity to write this piece!”, and let them know you’re available if they need anything in the future. Be polite and take a friendly business tone in your on-site messages with clients – “I’d be happy to.” rather than “Ok.”
- If clients try to take advantage of you (e.g. you’ve seen your work on the web before it’s been accepted by the client, or they’re asking for a rewrite that has little or nothing to do with the original order instructions), submit a Help Desk ticket. That’s what they’re there for! You *are* obligated to complete at least one revision on each order you work on, provided the client’s revision requests fall under the spirit of the original instructions.
- In very rare cases, clients may get rude, snippy or outright insulting, but take the high road or say nothing at all. “Talking back” to clients or copping an attitude in client-facing communication is a fast way to ensure you never move up a star level, and you may possibly even lose your account altogether. If you can’t shrug off criticism, writing may not be a good career choice. Always follow “Wheaton’s Law” – Don’t be a dick.
- Remember that promotions are about more than writing. WriterAccess has a “rising/falling star” system internally that uses several considerations for whether a writing should move up or down a star level. For star levels 2 through 5, the promotion/demotion system is triggered for review when you’ve accumulated a certain (unknown) number of beneficial things, like “exceeds” ratings, or negative things, like missing a deadline or getting a DNM (“Did Not Meet Expectations” rating). One of the factors that we’ve found out they consider is your interactions – e.g. “comment conversations” – with clients, as well as WA editors and staffers. The more polite and prompt you are about answering and addressing clients, the better your outlook as a WA-er. Also, don’t be combative/insulting/etc. to fellow writers or WriterAccess itself on the forums – I don’t know if that affects your star rating, but being a jerk there is a fast way to alienate yourself from a really fantastic and helpful group of people.