If there’s one piece of advice a freelance writer needs, it’s to keep looking for jobs. You always want your plate to be overflowing rather than barely having enough work to pay your bills. This means you need to send out the occasional job query. However, there are some things you should know before you get started. Here are five mistakes to avoid when writing job queries.
Using Poor Grammar and Spelling
Nothing will get your query deleted or thrown in the trash can faster than an editor seeing spelling and grammatical mistakes. You need to read over your query several times to make sure it’s the best it can be. You may even want to have a friend read over it to look for any mistakes you might have missed.
Not Following the Guidelines
Whether you’re approaching a magazine or website, you need to follow all the guidelines the company has listed. If the company wants a resume, include one. If they ask for a writing sample, include it. If they want you to fill out a questionnaire about your experience, fill it out. Many companies will not even consider a query that doesn’t follow the guidelines exactly.
Failing to Prove Experience
Even if your writing experience is lacking, you should focus on why you are experienced for the job. For example, if the position is for a culinary writer and you have 10 years experience as a head chef, mention that in your query. Sometimes companies are more interested in the background a person has and the information she can offer.
Sending Unsolicited Queries
It’s a waste of time to type up the perfect article and send it to a company that doesn’t accept unsolicited queries. Some companies want you to contact them about positions and then they will request a writing sample. Whether or not you need to send a writing sample upfront will be listed in the company’s guidelines.
Refusing to Send Unpublished Articles
Many seasoned writers don’t like handing their work over for free. However, many companies request unpublished writing samples. The company may even give you a topic to write about. While you may never be paid for this piece of content, it may be your key to a better job.
Queries are a wonderful way to land a new writing gig, but you need to be careful. A query should not only be free of grammatical and spelling mistakes, but it should follow the guidelines set forth by the company. It should also display your experience in the field, even if you lack writing experience. Last, but certainly not least, sending unsolicited queries can be a waste of time.
Wendi Ginter has been working as a freelance writer for more than 7 years and understands the importance of writing unique queries that show a true passion for your work. She also enjoys writing about finance, insurance, and credit repair.
Jeanne Grunert says
I was with you until the end when you suggested sending unpaid, unpublished samples. NO, no, and NO! Do you walk in to your physician’s office and demand he examines you at no cost to “try him out?” How about your attorney? Why should writers be any different? I’m always happy to send published clips. Having had several unpublished clips stolen and published without pay, I am NEVER sending anyone an unpublished clip again. I have over 20 years of freelance writing experience and have run a successful copywriting agency for the past four years. I do not recommend that anyone writes a sample for free.
Wow. With all the hundreds of PAID articles I have published, why would I want to write an article for free in hopes of getting a gig? They can’t determine if my writing is what they are looking for by reading some of my completed work? No, I won’t be giving any freebies. I didn’t write for free when I was a newbie and I don’t recommend anyone else do it either.
Marye Audet says
:::checks calendar:::: Nope it isn’t April Fools…
Really? Spending a couple of hours writing a 1,000 word article for a potential client is crazy! They can easily see if your style is a good match for their needs by reading other work that you have done. It’s stuff like this that keeps Internet writers some of the lowest paid peons employed today. Would you work at a company for free for a day or two so they could see if you were a good fit? Would you expect your lawyer or doctor to provide services for free so that you could decide if you liked them? Writers are the only people I know that will work for free or be happy making $5 an article just so that they can say that they are writers and yet they would not work at a minimum wage job. It is insanity to encourage that behavior, sorry.
I don’t know. I’m on the fence about the unpaid samples.
I guess it really depends on the situation. I’ve sent short unpublished / unpaid samples before and gotten some pretty decent gigs.