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.
It’s one of the biggest problems in freelance writing.
You send out a query to an editor, or a letter of introduction to a business.
You never hear back. You’re left to wonder what you’re doing wrong.
Or you submit an article, and it gets killed. They give you some vague reason, such as, “Just not a fit for us at this time.”
How can you ever improve?
You’re stuck. But you need to break through and get answers, or you’re not going to get the kind of great-paying gigs you want.
Fortunately, there are several paths out of this dilemma. One is to hire an expensive writing coach and pay thousands for their input.
But there are free ways, too. Here are three:
Here’s a common lament I hear from freelance writers:
“I don’t have any writing samples! What should I do to get clips for my portfolio?”
Well, wait just a minute there. Because often, when I ask more questions, I find out you’ve got clips.
You just don’t think you have any.
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.