It’s been nearly 6 years since this post was originally published — and it’s been one of my most popular ever. The need to write strong query letters has only grown in the years since, so I thought it would be a good time to put it out there again. Enjoy!–Carol
I often have freelance writers tell me they don’t think writing a query letter is worth the effort. They get a lot of rejections, and feel it’s basically a crapshoot…and so much easier to sign on to a content-mill dashboard for a guaranteed few bucks’ worth of work.
It’s true that querying isn’t a sure thing. But if you take the time to learn this skill, it can really help you move up and earn big.
I regularly get lucrative assignments off of query letters and guest post pitches, and I continue to believe querying is a vital skill for successful freelancers.
With so many writers turned off of queries, taking the time to learn how to write a compelling query letter is well worth the effort, as it makes you stand out in today’s marketplace. Querying can open doors when you don’t know anyone at a publication or company, and make a connection that could turn into an ongoing relationship.
For instance: I recently sent one query letter that got me $6,000 of assignments. And I’m reproducing it in full below.
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Want to know what a crazy writer schedule looks like? I’ve got three little kids. I have a day job as a health and wellness writer. I’ve got a solid line-up of freelance clients in the same niche and a bunch of looming blog post deadlines. Sometimes, it’s tough to get stuff done.
It’s always busy. There are a million things demanding my attention. And that doesn’t even include TV, movies, hours on social media, video games, hanging out with the guys, or sleeping in. Do people really do that anymore?
The hot 40-something woman I’ve been married to for 18 years is in grad school (future teacher). She volunteers where our kids go to school. She works part-time at a gym. And the kids have dance, Cub Scouts, homework, and probably some other activities going on that she-who-will-not-be-named will be texting me about shortly.
Then there’s my passion (some call it a sickness) for running. And I’m not talking about a 30-minute jog around the block. I ran a 100-mile race at the end of September. When the heck is there time to train for that?
Crazy. Every. Damn. Day.
How do I get it all done, and keep my freelance writing career moving forward? I don’t use any complicated planning tools to get stuff done (maybe I should), but I do follow a few basic rules to stay productive.
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I quit my corporate job in February 2015 with $300 in the bank. I had no idea what I wanted to do besides make a living writing. I was 25 years old, and a total newbie in the writing world. There wasn’t a lot of demand for young writers, I thought.
The extent of my experience was winning a third-grade writing contest and getting a book published for my school library. I was motivated, but didn’t exactly have a plan or success mindset to build a profitable freelance business.
I didn’t have a degree, any experience, or, if I’m being completely honest, any idea how to get someone to pay me to write. Call it crazy. Call it youthful enthusiasm. Because it was.
I wanted to build a successful freelance writing business, but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. Sound familiar?
After a rocky start, I realized that when you approach freelancing with a success mindset, it can have a big impact on growing your business and your income.
Fast forward two years, and I’m making over $100 an hour. And I’m constantly booked out two months in advance.
Here’s how I made that happen…
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It’s that most wonderful time of the year — for falling into the doldrums and slacking off on your freelance marketing, that is.
It’s easy to come up with reasons for not doing anything to line up new writing clients until January.
- Everyone is on vacation, anyway. Why pitch?
- The days are short and I feel sleepy.
- I’ll have company soon, or be traveling, so who cares?
- I’m busy with clients and couldn’t take a new gig now, anyway.
But taking a 6-week marketing vacation is a bad idea. This leads to January panic, when you have to cold-start your marketing after New Year’s. Top-earning writers are always marketing.
Remember, it can take weeks or months for marketing to pay off. So prospecting you do now lays the groundwork for more and better freelance gigs in the coming year.
How can you overcome the challenges of trying to get freelance marketing done during the busy holiday season? Here are four ideas:
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You’re on deadline. You must finish your article on time. That’s when your creative thinking decides to take a leave of absence. And it does so with no notice.
You’re stuck. You have to write, but you just stare at the computer screen and your fingers do not move.
Every writer has been in this situation. But knowing you aren’t alone won’t help you finish your piece and turn it in on schedule.
These seven creativity hacks will, though.
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