Welcome to Day 4 of Freelance Writing Week! So far we’ve covered:
- Is Freelance Writing For You?
- Freelance Writing Resources
- 5 Tips for How to Find and Develop Your Freelance Writing Niche
As I prepared this post, I realized it became too long for just one day, so I’m splitting it up into two posts, which means we’re simply going to have to Freelance Writing Week II—all about money.
I already have five post ideas about freelance writing pay to fill up the week, but if you have specific questions, please include them in the comments so I can address them as well.
Now, back to:
How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs
First of all, please note that a lot of your time as a freelance writer will be spent finding work, at least when you’re starting out. This is just something you *have* to make time for, plain and simple. Until you get your name out there and established, the work isn’t going to find you.
There are essentially three ways that you can find work as a freelance writer:
1. Query letters
2. Job advertisements
3. Cold calls
Today we’re talking queries.
Also, note that for our purposes, we’ll be discussing finding work writing articles and/or blog posts. If you’re pitching a novel or nonfiction book, the process is very different; perhaps we’ll get to that someday, but for now, let’s get started with:
* Query Letters *
Queries are letters that you send to publications to pitch ideas for articles and/or blog posts.
How do you write query letters?
Confession: I don’t really do query letters (more on this in a bit).
But since that doesn’t help you at all, I will tell you that generally a query letter should have six parts, according to Jenna Glatzer’s Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer:
1. Salutation. That is, “Dear Ms Editor’s Last Name:” Try to avoid the general “Dear Editor” if possible, and also be sure to use a colon as that is proper formal letter punctuation.
2. Hook. Lead with a punch, something snappy and interesting that will catch the editor’s eye and make her curious to read more.
3. Synopsis. Concise summary of what you plan to write about in the article.
4. Offering. What you can give the editor, e.g., an 800-word article plus photos.
5. Qualifications. Whatever writing and/or life experiences you’ve had that make you qualified and the best person to write this article. Note: if you’re not published yet, don’t call attention to it/
6. Call to action. Something like “Thanks for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.”
Can you share sample query letters?
Again, since I don’t really do them, I don’t have any personal examples to share, but I will send you to Appendix A of Jenna Glatzer’s Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer where she generously includes letters that landed her assignments. By the way, are you convinced yet that you should find a copy of this book?
Also check out:
- Sample Query Letter at About.com Freelance Writing
- Sample Query Letter at About Freelance Writing
- Sample Query Letter by Moira Allen
Query letters are generally *the* way to break into print publications.
Some of you have asked about the differences between writing for online and print publications, and while one big difference used to be that print publications pay more, times they are a-changing (look how many print publications are folding or going online these days!), so even that isn’t necessarily true anymore.
The two biggest differences, I’d say, are:
(1) turnaround is much quicker online (tighter deadlines but faster pay and publication); and
(2) formalities (online publications are generally less fussy with formalities; some print pubs *still* don’t accept e-mail queries).
Do you do query letters?
As I’ve stated above, I really don’t do query letters; just about all of my work has either come from answering job advertisements, by the work finding me, or through continued relationships with editors where I write “query” e-mails like “How about topic xx? I’d include a, b, c, etc.”
Why don’t I bother with queries? Writing query letters takes quite a bit of time and research at the front end, and I just haven’t had much luck with the few I’ve done. For me the process was too time-consuming for very little (no) reward, but if the right idea came to mind, I’d certainly query it up.
Final Note on Pitching Articles
For the record, generally you should avoid preparing an article first and then trying to pitch it; you might very well be wasting valuable time working on something that will never get published (unless you want to use it on your blog or as a guest post somewhere, of course).
Now be sure to come back tomorrow when we’ll talk about finding freelance writing jobs by answering job advertisements and making cold calls.
Also free free to bookmark, Stumble, and share these posts with friends via email, your blog, and Twitter. The more people we have reading them, the more ideas and suggestions we can come up with in the comments. We freelance writers have to stick together!
Have you ever written a query letter? What’s your technique?