A freelance writer is an entrepreneur, one who's responsible for generating new leads, getting clients, and producing deliverables. In order to do these things successfully, you need to make yourself known to editors and corporate clients. One of the proven methods for achieving your writing business goals is by pitching.
In this article, we'll discuss the 11 types of query e-mails to send out based on types of publication and business status.
However, before you start pitching or introducing yourself, make sure that you already have a professionally-designed website showcasing your latest works, such as articles, e-books, white papers, and others. A website is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for any writer. Use it like a well-categorized hub of your work, so you can track pieces and have them reviewed by future clients conveniently.
These are the 11 types of queries and how to nail each of them.
1. Letter of Introduction
Today, more and more freelance writers approach prospective corporate clients with an LoI (letter of introduction). Considering content marketing has become much more mainstream in the recent years, every business with an online presence needs frequently-updated content. The most common pieces of content are page descriptions, landing pages, blog posts, case studies, and success stories.
Letters of introduction are also ideal for introducing yourself to trade magazines, online publications, custom publication publishers, and overseas publications. Introduce yourself with a friendly note focusing on what you do, where you've published professionally, and clips of published works.
Whenever possible, include live links, which allow prospects to verify them immediately. Tell them that you're ready to help growing their blog readership or writing lead-generating white papers.
2. Cold Pitch
A cold pitch is different from an LoI, even though both target the same recipients. While an LoI is a generic introduction of yourself and your services, a cold pitch is more specific. Pitch your prospective client the specific topic idea(s) for their publication or blog and ask for their feedback.
Your tone must be friendly, warm, and personal. Feel free to include information about your professional experiences and past works, which can be embedded at the top or the bottom, to impress the editor.
3. Freelance Cover Letter
This one's ideal for answering a freelance job posting. Just like the cover letters for other types of jobs, it mentions the position you're applying for and why you're the most suitable person for it. Remember to include the link to your professional portfolio, where the prospective employer can find published articles and other samples.
In this letter, show your pleasant and professional personality. Avoid anything dry or jam-packed with data.
4. Social Media Query
Approaching an editor on social media has become more acceptable. You can start a conversation on Twitter, for instance, like this, "Hello. I admire your works for XXX and would love to contribute if the interest is mutual. May I have your e-mail so I can send a proper introduction?"
Or, you can shoot straight with an informal inquiry, "I'd love to submit an article for XXX. To whom should I send it to?" As long as you nudge an editor politely on social media, most likely they'll respond either with a mention or direct message.
5. Short Query
A short query is one usually sent to an editor that you've written for before, and the stories are brief and fact-based. This type of query is ideal if you've done preliminary research or reporting, so you already have a solid idea of the angle and the facts.
For instance, you can present an old topic with a new slant or something that most people aren't aware of yet. The key for sending off this type of query is having solid background information and a fresh angle.
6. Long Query
This is the most popular type of query for breaking into high-profile women's magazines and intellectual publications like The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Scholar, and others. The editors in these magazines aren't easily impressed, so make sure to do your homework well.
Include a solid background story, a list of experts to quote, the latest statistics and happenings, and a unique angle. Such queries take a long time to craft, perhaps even longer than writing the article itself. It may take you several pitches before you can break into these high-caliber publications.
7. Multiple-Idea Query
This type of query can be a lifesaver, especially when you've earned a long-term relationship with a publication or a client. Prepare several topics and send them together for the month's assignments.
However, if you haven't received any confirmation on whether you're writing for them short- or long-term, play it safe. Send only as needed so the editor receives fresh ideas every time you submit.
8. One-Paragraph Query
When you've worked with an editor long enough, things will become much more relaxed, as you've gained trust. The quality of your work has been proven, so you can just send off new ideas in one paragraph for approval.
Short and straightforward queries save both of your and the editor's time. You can e-mail back and forth to discuss the details. Once you've received the green light, you can work on it right away.
9. One-Sentence Query
This is similar to the one-paragraph query, only shorter. For several of my existing clients, I can simply send off multiple one-sentence queries for their approval or rejection.
Most likely, they'll accept the queries, since we've worked together long enough to understand what will and won't work. When you've reached this level of familiarity, you can expect to work together for many more years to come.
10. Freelancer Pool Query
Sometimes, new publications send out "calls for writers." Such calls are likely invitations for freelancers to join their pool, as they haven't established any relationship with reliable freelancers.
It's an excellent opportunity to plunge into the pool and wait to be called to write. Better yet, be proactive and send off short queries if you have waited long enough but haven't heard from them. Remind them that you're in their pool of freelance writers and ready to work.
11. Personal Essay Pitch
Many established magazines have a "personal essay" section. It's ideal to break into glossy publications with a unique take of inspiring, enlightening, and other memorable moments and personal stories. Follow the guidelines carefully to increase the possibility of being chosen.
In conclusion, whether you write for glossy magazines, trade publications, online zines, or corporate clients, be proactive. Send off LoIs, pitches, queries, cover letters, and social media mentions with a big heart. Be ready to be rejected, but more importantly, be prepared to be accepted.
Each query type requires multiple attempts to make it perfect. And if you aren't familiar with any of the above queries, just do it. There are no specific formulas, and there is no guarantee that any editor would accept your proposal. So, submit your queries unconditionally without any expectation.
Send them off, take note in an Excel spreadsheet, and forget about them. No need to fidget over a query. If it's meant to be, you'll get the assignment. Otherwise, keep sending queries. Sending out one or two pitches per day should be sufficient to keep your freelance writing flourishing.