In a previous post, I mentioned that I have built a full-time career as a freelance writer without querying. How do I do this?
1. Word-of-mouth – Anybody whose ever read a book about marketing knows the importance of word-of-mouth. Its significance is enhanced in Web 2.0, where WOM extends to social networking. I’ve landed several assignments through my social networks on Twitter, Facebook, and various forums. But my favorite story about word-of-mouth relates to a long-term client I began working with about 5 years ago. While shopping for paintball gear, I revealed to the marketing director at one of the top paintball distributors in the country that I was a freelance writer. He immediately hired me to write press releases. That job turned into a position as Editor-in-Chief at a leading paintball magazine. I share the story here, on one of my favorite sites for writers.
2. Assignments - My cash cows as a freelancer are regular clients who give me assignments every month. They generate the ideas in-house and, in most cases, provide sources. Since coming up with unique ideas and finding sources are two of the biggest challenges in freelancing, this makes my life a lot easier and my business more lucrative.
3. Ads – Sure, responding to ads takes time, and you’re up against intense and copious competition. But if you craft a basic letter that you can tailor to each specific ad, you’ll save a lot of time. The site Freelance Writing Jobs (www.freelancewritinggigs.com) is a great place to start, but you can have even more success by mining sites that aren’t regularly visited by every other aspiring freelancer on the Web. One caveat—there’s never any need to pay for job listings.
4. Letters of Interest – Want to write for a specific publication but don’t have an idea on tap? You can save time and capture the interest of an editor with a Letter of Introduction. LOIs, as they are known, work best if you have some credentials and quality clips. In this letter, rather than presenting an idea (as you would in a query letter) you sell YOURSELF as a writer. Start with a strong lead, emphasize why you would make a positive addition to the magazine’s team, and end with a call to action, asking for an assignment. Include clips and possibly your resume in the body of the e-mail (never send attachments).
I’m not saying you can easily break into a national magazine without a query (although it could happen) but you can build a successful freelancing career without spending hours on query letters!