Tag Archives: freelance queries

All About ME–Shameless Self Promotion and the Freelancer

joe wallaceI’ve been writing professionally in one form or another since 1987, and in all that time one of my biggest challenges has been getting comfortable with the idea of shameless self promotion.

Don’t get me wrong–today, I love it more than coffee. But in the early days of my writing career I wasn’t confident in my skills, and as a result I always felt like I was selling snake oil to people. The lack of confidence made me feel like I was getting away with something every time I landed a gig or got praise for something I worked on.

And that is a key issue in successful personal PR as a freelancer–believing in yourself enough to sell what you’re doing. I believe many people can detect that self-doubt even in the strongest of queries, sales pitches, etc. It’s almost as if they can smell the desperation coming through in the e-mails, the phone calls, and face-to-face meetings.

Is confidence in your own abilities what makes the sale?

I believe there’s no substitute for a well-written query, cover letter or resume…but I also think those are TOOLS, not the end itself. The query letter is just a sales pitch, after all. Ditto for the resume or proposal. What are these tools supposed to do? Sell YOU.

If confidence is the key, what does it take to get it? So many freelancers are afraid of making mistakes, of sending the wrong thing to the wrong people. I’ve been advising people to stop fussing so much over these issues and just get out there and DO IT. When I was a noob freelancer, I actually copied the format and presentation of successful query letters, not realizing that I would actually sell my ideas better in my own voice.

Today I’d rather shoot myself than copy someone else’s approach–but only because I’ve learned through trial and error that when I do things my own way, my confidence in my approach seems to be far more obvious. And I think in the end, that helps close the deal. Continue reading All About ME–Shameless Self Promotion and the Freelancer

Look Before You Query


I wanted to pitch a story on a local theatre company to a national magazine–a hard sell in most cases, but I had a hook and a unique angle I was sure would be a quick sell. I pulled the editor’s name, had a quick refresher on the publication to make sure they were still running a “culture” spin on some of their pieces and got ready to let fly with my killer query.

Then I wondered…has this already been done? Has someone beaten me to the punch? I couldn’t be 100% sure, so I played it safe and called my contact at the theatre company to see who’s done press with them recently.

My instincts were right in both cases—the story WAS a quick sell, and someone HAD beaten me to the punch. I was disappointed, but felt quite relieved that I hadn’t wasted my time querying OR revealing inadvertently to the editor that it had been many months since I last read her magazine.

Lesson learned for future reference—when possible, always ask the subject of your article who’s done press on them recently so you don’t waste time pitching to an editor who has been there and done that.

Freelance Queries and the Law of Averages


If you’re getting discouraged about the number of unanswered queries you’ve sent, take heart in the law of averages. Industry pros in a variety of freelance fields say when it comes to cold calling, queries and other forms of outreach, often it really is about volume rather than about getting “lucky”. The more you make contact with your queries and cold calls, the higher your likelihood of getting SOMEONE to respond to you. Voiceover expert and coach Susan Berkley says she’s found that for a specific amount of cold calls she does, she gets a specific amount of replies–Berkley says it’s almost a science, at least in her experience.

Beginning writers who are still learning their craft may struggle with finding that science until they polish the basics ’til their second nature–but if your queries and cold calls are skillfully done and have a professional presentation, you can definitely make the law of averages work for you.

Not Getting Any Freelance Writing Gigs? Why Your Query Letter Sucks

If you aren’t getting any responses in spite of sending query letter after query letter, it’s time to examine the root causes of the problem. There are three basic issues that could be roadblocking you:

1. The publication isn’t interested in your ideas.

2. The publication isn’t using freelancers at this time

3. Your query letter sucks and the editor is laughing at you.

The first two you can’t do much about. To fix #1, you need to read more of a particular magazine or website and try again once you’ve got a better idea of what they print. To fix #3, we need a closer look at your work.

“To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Editor” is your first mistake–and probably your last with that particular query letter. It shows a basic lack of research. What’s worse, it shows a lack of INTEREST in that research. An editor can spot your lazy ass coming a mile away. Yeah, it’s harsh of me to say, but it’s true. Now you know. Continue reading Not Getting Any Freelance Writing Gigs? Why Your Query Letter Sucks