query letter

Pitch Accepted: The Newbie Strategy That Landed a Major Magazine Assignment

Get a major magazine assignment with no experience. Makealivingwriting.com

Can you land a freelance magazine assignment without any clips?

If you’re new to freelancing and don’t have a lot of writing experience, it’s easy to think you can’t.

But it’s just not true.

About a year ago, I started at ground zero. I was pitching local newspapers and charity organizations. And I wasn’t getting anywhere. Not even low-paying gigs or pro bono work.

How was I ever going to land a magazine assignment without any clips?

Fortunately, Carol set me straight. “You need to learn how to pitch successfully,” she said.

Instead of chasing dead-end clients, I decided to go big and pitch a major magazine – the kind of magazine that has a massive readership, millions in ad revenue, and a freelance budget that pays pro rates.

And it worked. Pitch accepted.

Want to know how I did it? Here’s how you can land a major magazine assignment without any clips or experience.

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4 Free Email Lookup Tools To Find Editors & Marketing Managers

Easy-to-use email lookup tools for writers. Makealivingwriting.com.

Ever waste half a day in a fruitless search for the email address of an editor or marketing manager? Well, I recently found a simple email lookup system that reliably reveals whether you have the right address.

There’s one catch here: If the person you seek doesn’t use any social media, this system won’t help you sleuth out their address.

But since most folks in business are on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ — some social media platform or other — this system is highly useful.

I’ve found this combo better than Rapportive, or Email Hunter (now known simply as ‘Hunter‘), or any of the other popular email lookup tools you may have heard about.

There are four free things you need to use my system:

  1. A Gmail address (just get one, if you don’t already have).
  2. Google Chrome as your browser.
  3. FullContact for Gmail, a Gmail extension for Chrome only. (Heads up: You may need to refresh your Gmail after you install.)
  4. An email permutator that suggests all the likely possible email address formats for any given name (I use a free handout from Rob Ousbey at Distilled that you can download from this page). You could live without this if you’re highly creative in guessing emails, but I found this tool a real time-saver that helps you easily track which versions of your target name you’ve already tried.

You may know that I’m not very tech-savvy, so I want to reassure you these are easy installs to do. I was able to get this hooked up on my own, and didn’t even cry once.

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How One Query Letter Got $6,000 in Assignments

How one query letter got $6,000 in assignments. Makealivingwriting.com

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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How to Land That First Big Magazine Writing Assignment

Write your first BIG magazine article! Makealivingwriting.com

What freelance writer doesn’t dream of snagging a magazine writing assignment for newsstand favorites such as Men’s Health, SELF, or GQ?

Heavyweight magazines may be hard to crack, but with smart, persistent strategy, it’s possible — even if you’ve never had a national magazine writing assignment before.

Here are the tips that helped me land a magazine writing assignment for Runner’s World.

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Create Your Ultimate 2016 Freelance Success Plan (For Newbies and Pros)

Your Ultimate Freelance Marketing Plan 2016 - Makealivingwriting.com

Are you ready to earn a heck of a lot more from your writing in 2016? Good!

You might think it would be impossible for me to write a single post that tells every freelance writer out there how to do the most effective possible marketing in the coming year…but that’s exactly what I’ve got for you.

How can I do that, when some writers are brand new and others have been at this game for years? When some write for magazines and others for businesses? Well, I can do it because there are basically only three types of freelancers:

  1. Wannabe freelancers who want to quit day jobs, but haven’t taken the plunge yet.
  2. Freelancers who don’t have any good clients yet — they’re writing for $5 a blog post or $20 an article…that sort of travesty.
  3. Freelancers who have some good clients, but need/want more or better-paying clients.

There is an approach to marketing that will work optimally for each of these types, because ultimately, creating the ideal marketing plan isn’t that hard (though many writers whine constantly about how difficult marketing is to figure out, in lieu of actually *doing* marketing). Let’s solve this today!

Here we go:

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You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

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