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.
Do you feel like everything has already been said? That it’s impossible to be original, in an age where everyone has instant access to everything?
Well, I disagree.
Fresh, original writers and bloggers emerge every day. Each of us is an utterly unique human being.
Yet originality remains a struggle for many writers. Here’s a typical comment I recently got on one of my blog posts:
“I run a blog and I’ve been trying to be original in my content. The more I try, the more I get less original.
“What’s your advice on this?” –Ifeanyi
When you feel like you have nothing fresh to contribute, it’s time to take a step back and shake up your creative process.
I put together this list of 18 originality-enhancing ideas because in Hebrew, the word for life, chai, has the numerical value of 18. Pump some new life into your writing with these!
Ever had a great idea for an article?
The moment you think of it, everything comes to a halt. You are entranced. You love this idea!
You’re sure you know the ideal publication for it, too. A big, important, great-paying magazine.
This is the idea that’s going to transform your portfolio and make your career take off. You can hardly sleep at night, thinking about how great this is going to be.
And there, your troubles begin.
Ever wondered why article writers often get paid more than bloggers?
Well, here’s something interesting that just happened to me that explains why I keep encouraging writers to learn reporting: I did a Google search on a term, and got some results…and then a section of results labeled “In-depth Articles.”
Article writing is the future. More businesses will be paying for it, online magazines are springing up — the lucrative opportunities for writers who can develop a great idea, do a sharp interview, and weave it into a compelling story are growing like mad.
We’ve also got article writing on the brain around here because of an upcoming writing class I’ll be teaching with Linda Formichelli — we’re giving out some free article-writing trainings to celebrate that right now, if you haven’t seen.
For more article-writing help, I thought I’d help you ring in the New Year with a roundup of the most useful posts ever seen on this blog about article writing. Enjoy!