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Freelance Writing Queries: How to sell yourself

When putting together a freelance writing query letter, you are more or less attempting to sell yourself to a particular editor. If you do this with success, you have a good chance of landing a gig. The question is: where do you draw the line between selling yourself and going overboard? Remember, you are writing a query letter not a sales letter.

Here are five details that you want to include in your query letter. By touching on these areas, you will be able to sell your services without being overbearing:

1. Show your experience first and foremost. This can be tricky if you are new to freelance writing, but even then, if you are creative it is possible. Editors want to see that you have experience as a writer; this will put them at ease when assigning you a project.

2. Although writing experience is important, if you can show that you have relevant experience you will be in a much better position. For instance, when querying sports publications I always include information on my two in-print sports books. This shows that I have worked within the niche in the past, and that I am more than capable of doing so again in the future.

3. Do you have connections that you can call on to spice up the piece? This is a big plus, and one that may get you the nod over your competition. When you can include an interview or quotes from a big name in the industry, editors will definitely consider working with you. Don’t think you have any connections? Chances are that if you think long and hard you can come up with a few people who you can easily get in touch with; it just takes some creativity.

4. For more in-depth pieces, you will want to sell your research skills. You can do this once again by talking about past projects that required extensive research, interviews, etc. This will not always be a benefit that you want to include in your letter, but more times than not it will help your situation.

5. Feel free to add information on past accomplishments such as awards. If you are going to do this, make sure that you don’t go overboard or come across as if you are bragging. This can be hard to avoid, but you must make sure that you resist the temptation.

Does this seem like a lot of information to include in a query letter? If so, you are right. Remember, your letter should be no longer than one page. Although it may seem impossible to include all of these details, you can make it happen if you take your time and put your mind to it. 

4 Comments »Freelance WritingApril 30th, 2008

When your Freelance Writing Fees are contested

Freelance writers often times struggle when it comes to setting fees. Just like any other business, you need to have a fee schedule and then stick to it day in and day out. This is not to say that you can never change your rates, but you do need a schedule to fall back on when a potential client gets in touch with you.

One of the biggest issues that you will face as a freelance writer is getting clients to pay the rates that you set. Even if they think that you are being fair, most clients will ask for a discount just to see if they can get it; this is common in almost every industry, not just freelance writing. The question is: what are you supposed to do when your freelance writing fees are contested by a prospect?

1. Many freelance writers are of the school that they give their fees and only work with those who accept them. In other words, there is no negotiating. While there is nothing wrong with this, and I know many freelancers who feel this way, I am not one of them. With that being said, I do not lower my fees for just anybody. In order for this to happen, a special situation has to present itself. If you feel that your fees are fair and inline with what you offer, you have every right to stick to your guns and only do business with clients who are willing to meet this demand.

2. Should you have to explain yourself to potential buyers? This is a highly contested question among many freelance writers who I speak with on a regular basis. It is not uncommon for a prospect to ask why you are worth what you are asking. No, you do not have to answer this question, but if you decide to move in this direction there is a very small chance of you receiving the project. Instead, you may want to use a “canned” response such as: My rates are on par with others in the industry. Additionally, I bring X amount of experience to the table, and have completed several projects within your niche in the past. With two quick sentences you can show that you are not overcharging, and that you are more than an average writer with no experience.

Early in my freelance writing career, I always got annoyed when a prospective client would tell me that my fees were outrageous. In fact, I heard this so much that I almost began to believe it. Listen up: do not let others tell you how much to charge. You know how much you are worth, and it is your business. Just as your client sets their own fee schedule, you have every right to do the same.

Nowadays when a prospect tells me that I am overcharging, I briefly explain myself (as noted above) and then wait for their response. If they want to move forward at my agreed upon price or negotiate a bit, that is fine. But for those who still think that I am out of my mind, I tell them to keep me in mind for future work and then move on.

If your freelance writing fees are not being contested you may not be asking enough money. Although that may sound silly, it is the truth. Remember, you are the one who runs your business. Set your freelance writing fees as you see fit, and then work from there. 

4 Comments »Freelance WritingApril 29th, 2008

Freelance for Fun

Although you can earn a lot of money as a freelancer, you should consider moving in this career direction for the “fun of it” as well. When it comes down to it, being a freelancer in any capacity can be a fun and exciting position in many ways. Personally, I would never consider continuing my work as a freelance writer if I were not having a good time.

The question is: how is being a freelancer fun? There are three things that come to my mind when I think of fun and freelancing:

1. It is fun to work with a wide variety of people. As a freelance writer, I have clients all over the world. One second I may be speaking on the phone with a client in Ireland, and the next via email with somebody in a bordering state. Additionally, freelancing gives you the chance to learn about many different industries. There are some days when I write one article on the insurance industry and then another on travel. This diversity keeps my days fresh and fun at all times.

2. I find that it is a lot of fun to work at home and set my own schedule. Can this ever be a pain in the neck? Sure can. But for the most part, having my office a few feet away from my bedroom is a great benefit of being a full-time freelance writer. Many may not feel this way, but until you give it a try you will never know for sure.

3. As a freelance writer I have the chance to wear many different hats. To me, this may be the most exciting part of freelancing. Writing content takes up the majority of my time, but my responsibilities definitely do not end there. I also enjoy other aspects of this career such as marketing, accounting, client communication and much more. The chance to “do it all” is a huge benefit of being a freelancer.

As you can see, becoming a freelancer (writing or not) can be a great career thanks to the fun that you can have. And of course, the money is not bad either! 

2 Comments »Freelance WritingApril 28th, 2008

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