Thursday, April 16, 2009 is still looking for writers. Tips for applying. has extended its referral program, so, I am putting out the, “Hey! Go apply!” call yet again. I love writing for and do very well. With roughly 50,000 readers monthly, mine is the top Fitness and Weight Loss column on the site.

While working at as a recruiter, I dealt with thousands of applicants. As a writer, I have written over 300 articles. I’ve seen it all, from both sides of the fence.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some of that help applied towards your application efforts? Online applications to writing companies can be daunting.

Since I am no longer an employee of, knowledge here is based on my personal experience and opinions, and is not indicative of as a company or in any other fashion. I in no way represent or seek to represent the company, nor do I make claims regarding what the company is, in fact, necessarily seeking or not seeking, and I can not guarantee that the rules won’t change in terms of applications and what is being sought. while an employee, I never handled applicants who I referred to prevent any conflict of interest or nepotism, and I refuse to share proprietary information from now. Help here is for informational purposes only, and is meant to aid you, the applicant, in doing your best, and in no way assures a column through the company.

In fact, this advice could well be applied to any writing site for which you will necessarily need to prove your mettle.

The application on site requires writers to share information about yourself, show how you are a local resource, and share samples of what any company’s readers should expect from you as a writer.

No company accepts all applicants! Keep this in mind at all times. While is a huge cyberforce in information, it is not looking for just any content. As with any writing resource, quality on the application is key., as with many companies, seeks tight, concise, quality writing from writers who are willing to act as a resource to readers locally. While many writers possess immense knowledge of the topic, putting your best self forward on the application–especially for a writing job– is crucial.

1. Take your time and proofread your application. Any writing site is looking for folks who provide clean, tight copy, since it’s hard to micromanage thousands of writers.

Employers look at first impressions as the assessment of what we have to look forward to in the future with you as a contractor. If you were going for a job at a swank hairdresser’s, would you show up with bedhead?

If your writing is fraught with typographical errors, punctuation problems and misspellings, you probably just wasted your time submitting your application to any writing site. Rushing through any application shows you didn’t care enough about making a good impression.

Do: Note the difference between words like “loose” and “lose” and always strive to better yourself as a writer by noting when “its” is possessive versus “it’s” as a contraction.

2. Why are you a good candidate?

When a company asks you what qualifies you to be a columnist on the application, provide for solid reasons on that application. Are you a PhD? Have you written a book? Are you the mother of three autistic children and a crusader for autism awareness? Did you help photograph the local chamber of Commerce Guide and know all the local businesses?

Having lost 25 pounds is not necessarily enough to qualify you as a Weight Loss Examiner right off the bat (in my book), but losing 25 pounds through organic eating and with exercise (and keeping it off for 3 years) is a Wow moment. Work the factors.

Do: Be specific and succinct.

Don’t: Tell people that you’re funny and your English teacher told you to apply.

Don’t: Share that you need a job, or that you love to write, so you are going to entertain people with your sense of humor. It’s been heard. A lot.

Do: Show! If you are funny, incorporate wit into your sample. If you are hungry for work, provide quality writing; don’t talk about it.

3. Choose topics E,com is actively seeking unless you know for a fact that there are a few of ‘your’ proposed topic writers on the site. I have, as an example, worked to bring in more Health and Fitness writers through low-carb and the like. Low-carb is not a topic active seeking (you’ll see this if you look at topics being sought in the various editions), but because you’ve seen it on the site, the precedent has been set (and come ohn. Low carb writers kick the rear, people!)

Do: Know that broader topics are better. If you want to be the Minneapolis Scab Examiner and are a national knowledge source to Oprah about wounds that scab, you might be ok. If you are choosing a narrow topic, it hurts you in search engines and it won’t bring in the readers or go as far into the search engines. In short: Recipe Examiners? Probably No. Baking Examiners? Maybe. Cooking Examiners? Probably Yes. Again, take the cue from the topics sought in the editions.

Don’t: Fight the topic assigned for you. From personal writing experience I can say if you are named a certain topic title, know a channel manager has researched the topic via Google and other resources in order to make sure you are found in as as many search engines as possible. Your title is not pulled from an armpit. It’s researched for your benefit.

4. Work article sample titles from a local angle. Because all writers go out into the search engines equally, and due to that fact national spots are still highly coveted, please apply locally. You can always request to go national at a later time.

Do: Apply locally, no matter what. If you do not live near Des Moines, still apply for Des Moines, so long as you live in Iowa. That is the edition all Iowans should receive automatically when visiting the site (the site registers IP address to open the proper edition). If you live in Fort Collins, Colorado, and your closest hub is Denver, no, the staff of does not expect that you’re driving for 2 hours every week to partake as the Denver Theatre Examiner. Request to be the Fort Collins Theatre Examiner in the Denver edition and focus on content in and around Ft. Collins.

Do: Use down style headlines. Only capitalize first words and proper nouns.

Do: Use topic titles that aren’t puking with cleverness. Titles go out into search engines, so if you wrote a recipe for mashed cauliflower and you titled it, “Woo! I love my veggies!” do you think anyone searching for a good cauliflower recipe is going to find you? No? No. So don’t even go there with the titles in the application unless there is real information in there as well.

Do: Avoid punctuation whenever possible in titles, especially !!! and ?! types of manic endings

Do: For the love of all that is wonderful, avoid ALL CAPS

Examples of good title samples for an Atlanta Parenting Examiner who may apply (as an example):

1. Easter egg roll at the state capitol this Saturday (Shows knowledge of events happening locally as well as inviting readers to participate)

2. Mind your nuts: Doctors warn parents about salmonella scare (Shows well roundedness. You went from Easter egg rolling on the front lawn to discussing a health concern that is national but affects people locally)

3. Local kids walk to help cure cancer (Shows local knowledge, and throwing in a quote from a local source never hurts to show you journalistic caliber, if you use this as your sample piece)

5. Your writing sample.

Your sample should be taken from one of your headlines, preferably one that shows knowledge locally. Frankly, shoot for an event happening locally, such as a health fair, an Easter Egg Hunt, or anything that shows you possess the local knowledge to make it as a resource to your readers. Since a lot of your content will be couched in your town, the more you can refer a potential reader to a local event, store or resource, the more believable you will be.

Do: Look to what a National Examiner in a topic similar to yours is writing as an example of how to handle an article. If you see a different writer whose style appeals to you, study what they are doing to provide succinct, tight copy that makes them a quality writer.

Don’t: Write first person narratives. is not a blogging site. Stories about yourself catching your first angler are great if you write the back page for Field and Stream, but when you’re applying as an Examiner, I wanted to see you share local knowledge on that application, not how you woke up this morning, ate breakfast and then sorted your socks. Likewise, avoid a lot of “I” while writing. Giving an anecdote in the beginning of a piece is fine, so long as it leads into the point of the article–and quickly.

Do: Share information locally in specific terms. Even if you’re making up the information on your application, if you are applying as a Restaurant Examiner and you don’t share the location, hours and other pertinent information in your article (even if they are totally fabricated), it might look like you didn’t know what a restauant writer actually provided in terms of information that is useful to readers.

Don’t: Tell what “should” go there. Write the entire article and show the company what they can expect from you. Shortcuts look sloppy.

Don’t: Use the sample portion to write, “Contact me for a sample.” Again, make the effort.

Don’t: Think employees (or the company) plans to steal your work. Some writers presume that, like vampires, companies suck their topic samples and use them for free/cheap content on the site. If you want to use your sample provided as your first piece as a columnist, then wooty woot. But the last think an employee is thinking is, “How do we steal this writing sample from this application! Muahahahaha!!!” The sample is for your benefit. Never’s.

Do: Save your work in Word. Many writers can use their sample article as the first article in the column so long as the topics mesh. A Word program will also check for spelling errors and allow for ease in editing prior to placing in the application.

6. Your links.

Do: Provide links to other sites, especially where they are pertinent. If you are applying as a Wine Examiner and you’re linking to a wine blog, this is extremely helpful. Shoot, anywhere people can note the quality of your writing helps, especially if you feel nervous that you didn’t bang it out of the ballpark in terms of the writing sample.

Don’t: Provide a link to myspace (unless pertinent) or to a site where a log-in is required to see your work. If access is prohibited, you may as well not have provided the link at all.

Don’t: Provide links that don’t work. If the site doesn’t exist, that wasn’t any good to you. Always test your links prior to providing them.

Don’t: Provide a link that leads to a page where someone would have to suss through 40 writings to locate yours. If there is no quick search feature, it makes finding samples difficult.

Do: Provide a link to all of your work in a search feature. If you have a page through a journalism/writing site where you provide content, this is a great starting point to view several pieces quickly.

7. Your bio. Please keep it to 50 words, in third person, and don’t use this space as a plea for why you should be accepted as an Examiner. Assume this is what readers will see on the site.

Do: Refer to bios you like at and emulate them in style.

Do: Jane Seismic is a well-known food critic for the Sunday Times, where she shares her experience of culinary disasters and successes with readers. She owns Chez Happiness, a three star Michelin restaurant and lives in Minneapolis.

Do: Tom Brandon is the father of two autistic children. As an activist for Children with Hope, he speaks across the state on various issues affecting the autism community. He lives in Cleveland.

Don’t: “If you pick me, you won’t be sorry! I will make you happy!”

Don’t: Provide a 500 word bio from your auto-biography. Please keep to roughly 35-50 words.

More general do’s and don’t’s:

Do: Have patience. Some channels/topics process applicants faster than other channels. It might take time to be contacted in rare circumstances, but this is not due to any perceived lack of quality in your application. With 12,000 Examiners slated to be on board by the end of 2009 and many, many more applications than even this, you can expect there will be some lag time.

Do: Check your spam files for any emails which may come from

Do not: Apply for more than one column at a time. While Examiners may be encouraged to take on a second column as they build content (and when this is requested), for the most partchoose the topic that is your passion and begin there.

Do not: Ever assume that you are the only one applying for a topic, or assume that takes all applicants. Neither one is true.

Do not: Submit a wide open application saying, “I want to write about everything from fish heads to beading for beginniers.” It’s great that your knowledge is expansive, but you’re applying for a single topic. Your sample titles, bio and links should back up this topic whenever possible.

Do not: Give shade to if your application is not accepted. If you’ve followed the advice given here and feel you made the effort, apply again for a different topic. Make the effort to understand what you can improve on, and go for it. Sending regrets is not a smack down of the most personal order. Learn from mistakes and move forward.

Do: Ask questions if you have them. While can no longer call and interview every applicant, the relationship between writer and company is very important. Don’t assume this is a faceleless organization bent on procuring your work at all costs. It’s not. In my experience, is a big family of writers, who not only act as resources to readers, but to each other as well.

Do: Let them know I referred you on the application and let me know if you have questions. While I am no longer an employee of, it will save you time (and them time) if you can put your best foot forward in the application process. I might be able to help you to help through giving the type of information that helps recruiters and assistants review your application in the most positive light.

Do: Apply to become an Examiner here.

If you feel I have been helpful to you, please let them know I referred you on the application (My ID # is 355 and must be included in order to let them know I sent you their way).

While my name on your application is no guarantee you will be accepted, knowing that writers are being aided to in putting your best foot forward helps you and in the long run and serves as a “Jamie sent me” note that you have been guided by a caring individual who wants to see you (and succeed.

Do you have any questions? Need some help with your application? Let me know. Good luck, and be fabulous!

Adding: Though I mentioned this in our last discussion, I do receive a finder’s fee for writers who mention that I referred them. As mentioned earlier, as well, this money goes towards mailing prizes to readers and buying prizes for giveaways. It is not for buying low-carb ice creams and the like.