If you're feeling a bit stuck in a rut with marketing your services, why not try a freelance writing challenge to mix things up or motivate you to try something different?
I'm a big fan of challenges. I set one or more writing challenges for myself almost every month. And today I'd like to suggest one that could bring you a few new freelance writing clients this month or next.
Write 30 Queries in 30 Days
For this challenge, your goal is to write 30 queries to freelance writing markets over the course of 30 days.
You can choose how to take this challenge, such as writing one query per day for 30 days or writing them in a set number of batches.
These queries can target traditional markets like print magazines, they might include blogs or digital-only publications, or you can choose to send cold email pitches to companies for potential copywriting gigs.
Look for ways to tailor this challenge for your own needs.
Tips for Writing 30 Queries in 30 Days
Here are some tips and reminders that might help you push through this challenge to write 30 query letters over the course of a month.
- Pace yourself in a way that makes sense for your schedule. That might mean writing five queries a day for six days, or you might write one every day instead.
- Before starting this challenge, it helps to have a prospect list prepared up-front so you aren't researching markets when you should be ready to write.
- Use task batching to your advantage by grouping queries around similar subject matter together.
- Successful querying involves more than sending a lot of query letters. Brush up on your persuasive writing skills before jumping into this challenge if you want to improve results over your usual querying process.
This challenge revolves around writing your queries, but you'll also need to decide when you want to send them.
For me, when any kind of pitch is ready to go, I send it. But you might also opt to send them in batches, giving yourself a bit of flexibility if you receive multiple positive responses at once. You don't want to over-commit or suddenly be unavailable if an editor gets in touch.
Normally I'm all for building demand and waiting lists when clients are coming to you, but when you're the one reaching out you should have time available in the near future for the projects you're pitching if you get a "yes."
But Aren't You All About Query-Free Freelancing?
I am! I've long advocated for what I call a "query-free freelancing" approach to freelance writing.
What is Query-Free Freelancing?
Query-free freelancing is a mix of PR and inbound marketing tactics that attract clients.
In other words, it's a way of building visibility, a reputation, and a professional platform that leads to clients coming to you rather than you seeking them out, pitching them (which is often unpaid writing work that has no broader public marketing advantage), waiting on responses, and dealing with routine rejection among the the gigs you do land.
Why would I suggest a 30 Queries in 30 Days challenge if I don't actively promote the querying process?
First, I know not all freelance writers prefer the query-free approach. And that's OK. We all have to choose the marketing strategy that works best for us.
Second, All Freelance Writing caters heavily to newer freelance writers. And while the query-free freelancing approach can lead to a steady stream of prospects in just a few months, those newer writers need income in the meantime. And I wholeheartedly recommend filling gaps with pitching.
Sometimes Queries are Necessary
Additionally, there are times when you have to rely on either queries or at least LOIs (letters of introduction).
For example, if you want to write for magazines, you'll need to query and build relationships with editors.
This is also the case if you, for whatever reason, need the validation of having specific bylines, or if you simply have a "dream gig" you want to pursue.
There's no point in hoping a specific client will come across you and approach you. If you absolutely must write for X magazine or Y company because they're goals you've set for yourself, don't wait. Pitch them!
So yes, I'm all about query-free freelancing...
The stability and freedom that brings (when you're that in-demand, you have more control over rates and terms and you'll get much less push-back) is something I wish every freelance writer could experience.
But there are times you might need to query. There are times you might want to.
This challenge is for those of you who fall into either of those groups.
Free 30 Queries in 30 Days Tracking Worksheet
To help you with this query challenge, I've created a simple query tracker you can download and use. You can see a preview and find a link to the download page below.
This challenge was initially issued on August 6, 2014 in the now-retired freelance writing forum. This introductory post and the tracker worksheet have since been updated.