Does Query-Free Freelancing Work with Larger Media?

In Yo's last post, she mentioned the ups and downs freelancers face. Today I'm going to share a story that incorporates a bit of both. First, it's an excellent case of query-free freelancing attracting more than commercial writing clients. On the other hand, it also shows how breaking one of my own rules ended up being a waste of time on a day when when I really couldn't afford to waste it.

Let's go back to Wednesday of this week. It was my first day back to work after a 5-day vacation. I started that vacation being hit with a blizzard and had just gotten used to being dug out again when bam! -- another blizzard came in on Tuesday night. It snowed all day Wednesday, so I was stuck digging out throughout the day on top of trying to get caught up on client work. It was a busy day -- very busy.

Halfway through the day I checked my email. There was something in my inbox from NPR. They wanted me to whip something up quickly that day on a business-related topic. I didn't pitch them. I didn't contact them at all. They found me and reached out. And that, folks, is exactly how query-free freelancing works -- you make yourself "findable."

I love NPR. I also have a rule against taking on any spec projects, and I'm not technically taking on new projects from anyone right now. But we all have exceptions to our rules, don't we? Isn't there a publication or company you'd practically give a limb to write for? NPR is probably the closest I'll get to that limb-sacrificing state of mind. It's the only radio station I listen to.

So anyway, I made an exception to the rule. On a day when I was overloaded on catch-up work post-vacation and being pummelled by a snow storm I had to deal with, I dropped what I was doing and whipped up the piece. Unfortunately the rush job barely left enough time to track down a source and get a quote, nonetheless go into extensive details. And I'm not a news writer, so sudden tight deadlines aren't my forté. Still, I got it together and sent back by deadline.

In the end they decided not to use the piece, and I was stuck working ridiculously late to make up for the lost time during my work day (never fun). Rejections aren't as common in query-free freelancing but they still happen, and you still have to be able to handle it gracefully. Disappointing? Sure. Will they come back at some point? Possibly. Would I drop everything and break my typical business rules on spec work again? I honestly don't know. But still, despite the end rejection it was very nice to see the platform approach do its job not only with the small business and corporate clients who find me and want to work with me, but also with a large media outlet I have a huge amount of respect for.

So there you have it -- an example to show you that, yes, query-free freelancing can work with media contacts just like it does with business contacts. Now tell me, what company would you consider breaking your own rules for just for a chance to write for them?

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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2 thoughts on “Does Query-Free Freelancing Work with Larger Media?”

  1. Can you see me turning green with envy? I’d have done the exact same thing. Others include Harpers and Atlantic Monthly…

    I would also suspect there’s many more query free assignments than most people suspect. Maybe even more now that we have blogging as a visible platform.

    Wonder what, exactly, are the best ways to be visible enough so this sort of thing happens?

    • Oh definitely. There is a ridiculous amount of well-paying gigs out there that people won’t ever see advertised, and blogging is a great example. Not only are people launching blogs every day as individuals, but everyone from small business owners to execs in large corporations are getting into blogging to share company information and stay in touch with members of their target market. But blogging takes time that they often don’t have, and they outsource. They’ll search for freelance bloggers, they might ask a blogger they already read in their niche or industry, or often they’ll ask colleagues (or employees) if they know anyone who might be right for the job. That’s why being well-connected is so important. You need people to think of you when they’re asked for those referrals so they can pass you along. That, combined with making sure your site can be found in searches easily, can go a long way towards bringing in those query-free gigs.


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