To Query or not to Query: Part Five

This week we'll be finishing our series with successful freelancers, where we've been talking about queries, platforms, and finding freelance writing jobs.

A major aspect of query-free freelancing is building a writer platform--your visibility and demand. There are many possible elements to a writer platform such as blogs, a professional website, published books, microblogging (Twitter), and speaking engagements. (If you'd like more examples, check out our past post listing 30 ways to build your writer platform.)

I asked our guests what they considered to be the most important aspect of a writer platform, based on the most effective elements of their own during their careers. Here are their thoughts:

Chris Bibey

There are a couple of things that come to mind here. One, every freelance writer needs a blog. Since starting my blog a couple years ago I have received a number of large projects from clients who found me in this manner. Yes, it takes time to develop a readership but once you are there it can help immensely.

Having two books in print has also helped me grow as a writer. Not only has this brought forth additional projects, but it has allowed me to connect with others who can help me reach my goals.

Angela Booth

All of the above [e-boks, a blog, published books, speaking engagements], because at various times, I’ve used and have done all of the above, and will continue to do it, as time permits, and as projects require.

Jenna Glatzer

Some editors did find me through my website, but to be honest, most of it was just a matter of editors getting to know me through my work for them and their colleagues. As I proved myself, editors began batting my name around more and more, and taking me with them when they moved to other magazines and other publishers.

Kristen King

Having a website was absolutely essential to building my business. I now also have a blog, and they both bring in enough work to more than pay for their own overhead costs. My website and my involvement with American Independent Writers were the two biggest external contributors to my freelance success. Busting my butt nonstop to go after work was essential, but I don't think it would have been nearly as effective without those two elements.

Allena Tapia

Often I think this whole “platform” business tends to accidentally connect us to other freelance writers. For me, that’s important because of my work at About.com. But, you know what? Other than that, it’s not freelancers who pay me! It’s publishers, editors. So I would say that the most important part of your platform is the audience!! Select them carefully.

Anne Wayman

I've always thought speaking might be a good way to get writing assignments, but it looked as hard to get speaking engagements as it can be to get writing assignments, so I focused on the writing. Websites and now blogs are my most important marketing tool, but although I think every writer should have a site with samples, etc., it won't be everyone's prime method. Just as we're all different, our marketing will be different too.

So there you have it. Get a website. Get a blog. Do what works for you, but for goodness sake get out there and do something! The sooner you get started, the sooner your platform can begin bringing in the gigs.

Come back tomorrow for the final post in our series, where our guest will share some parting words of wisdom.

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 “To Query or not to Query: Part Five”

  1. Another helpful post. I am not surprised that a blog was mentioned so many times as a crucial element of the writer platform. After all, they both take time and expertise to develop.

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  2. Good suggestions all. I find myself rather scattershot when it comes to building a platform. I’m going to listen to Allena, and what I’ve been learning here at QFF, and try to go about reaching an audience in a more focused way.

    I’m surprised Anne says she has a hard time getting speaking engagements. I’m wiling to bet there are writers groups or dues paying associations out there that would kill to have such a prolific freelancer in their midst. For example, I consulted with the Georgia Writer’s Association and I know they sometimes pay speakers. Also, in Georgia, we even give writing groups, libraries, and other associations small $250 grants to pay writers to come out to their locations. If Georgia – a state that isn’t exactly known for it’s strong patronage of the arts – goes that far, I bet other states go even farther. Not that I would ever presume to give advice to the great Anne Wayman, of course, but it might be worth checking out!

    Thanks again for this series, Jenn. It has been really informative to find out how these model writers rose through the ranks and stayed on top.

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