Become a Sweeper: Clean Up After Other Writers’ Mistakes
Have you ever come across a website that made you wince? Bad grammar, juvenile phrasing and multiple spelling errors can turn any website into an ineffective laughingstock. Instead of just shaking your head and moving on, you should view this as a golden opportunity. You’ll have to pull out your diplomatic skills, but there are ways to approach the site owner to convince him to hire you to fix his mistakes.
Polish up your writer’s resume and website, if they’re not already up to snuff. In order to convince the website owner of your expert writing talents, you’ll want to show him concrete proof of exactly what you can do. The best way is to have everything in hand, ready to show off and impress him.
Find freelancers in graphic design to use as sub-contractors, if needed. You’ll be able to offer an entire package of content rewriting, logo making and even website building if the site you find is a total disaster in need of a makeover.
Praise the contents of the site, if it’s warranted. Let the site owner know why you searched for his site, and give specific examples of information you found useful, amusing or otherwise worthwhile. Your purpose is to provide help and support in getting his message out to readers. Let him know you find the message interesting and worthwhile.
Break the bad news gently, but be clear about the details. Show four or more examples of mistakes on the page, and mix up the examples with grammar, spelling and context to make him aware of the extent of his problem. Be very businesslike when you point out these mistakes and never sound judgmental. You don’t know who wrote the site; if the owner did the work himself or hired his favorite nephew to write the page, you might quickly turn this from a business interaction into a personal attack.
Show some concrete examples of how you plan to help him. Redo a paragraph or two, and show why your version is better. Lay out a plan to fix his entire site, and give him an idea of how long a job like this is likely to take. Teach him a little bit about keywords, SEO and Google, and explain why they should be important to him.
Finally, make the pitch. Give him examples of past work you’ve done for other websites and show how you’ve improved their bottom line. Assure him that you want to keep his content; you simply want to make it easier and more accessible for readers to understand what he’s trying to say. Don’t bring up money details, but let him know whether you work on an hourly or per-job basis, and that you have flexible terms. The message should be that you will use your expert writing skills to keep his site almost the same, only better and more readable to the average person online. Add your contact information and thank him, then move on to saving the next site.
Victoria B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.