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.
I post a lot of tips here on Make a Living Writing for writers looking to earn more. But recently, a look at my Google Analytics revealed a surprising phrase writers commonly search on:
“What is freelance writing?”
This makes me feel I should back up and start at the very beginning. Clearly, I shouldn’t assume every reader knows what this career is about.
Apparently, some folks know that term well enough to search to find out more about it…but they don’t yet know how freelance writing works, exactly.
So let me fill in the blanks today with answers to some of the most basic questions about the world of freelance writing:
Do you regularly scan job boards looking for online writing jobs, but only find low-paying gigs? If so, you might need to get a little choosier about where you look.
If your typical rates are above what the listings offer, it may be time to stop checking the job boards altogether. In general, you’ll do better with proactive prospecting to find your own clients, rather than applying to mass-online-job ads where you compete with hundreds of writers.
But if checking online job ads is still a part of your regular marketing routine, at least be an educated freelancer and target boards that are the best fit for you. We interviewed site owners and researched listings to bring you this inside look at what’s available on 17 top boards:
Five years ago, I took a crazy risk and opened a community for freelance writers, hoping I could get 100 people to sign up.
What happened? It turned out people were starved for freelance writing help.
Today, the Den turns 5 years old — and it has over 1,200 members. When I say I couldn’t have done it without you, my great readers, I’m really not kidding.
Great community can’t be created by my answering every forum question. It’s created by everyone in the community coming together to pool their knowledge and share best practices. The Denizens are what make the Den the truly awesome resource it has become today.
I’m grateful for everyone who’s come together to make Freelance Writers Den great — so grateful that I’ve got five different goodies for you as part of our Den 5th anniversary celebration:
This post originally ran in late 2010, but I find myself thinking about my own writing journey this year, as I’ve spent the past week attending memorial services and comforting mourners. After a year full of so much tragedy, I think it’s worth another read as we move into this New Year. I hope you’ll agree.
Recently, my teenage son gave me a great insight into my freelance writing career. He plays the online multiplayer game Minecraft, in which players build vast structures while battling the occasional zombie at night.
“How do you win the game?” I asked him.
He rolled his eyes, the way only teens can.
“There is no winning the game, mom,” he said. “It’s about the experience. It’s all about the journey.”