By Linda Formichelli
“I sent out five LOIs last week and I didn’t get any assignments!”
“I have a really great travel query out there and I’m dying to hear back from the editor.”
“I wrote to my local hospital on LinkedIn a week ago asking if they needed any writing and haven’t heard back.”
“I got a rejection last month and it really hurt.”
Have you found yourself uttering any of these phrases?
If so, here’s the reason you’re not seeing the success you want:
You’re not getting enough out there
You sent out five letters of introduction? How about Julie Knudson, who sent out 300 and ended up with nine regular gigs and 80 requests for her clips?
You got one rejection last month? If you’re not getting lots of rejections, you’re not trying hard enough.
You’re waiting by the phone to hear back on your single all-important query? That means you don’t have enough queries out there.
Too many writers send out a query or LOI here and there, or connect with an editor every once in awhile on Twitter or LinkedIn, and then get upset when they don’t see immediate results. But here’s the thing: If you get a huge volume of stuff out there, you almost can’t not succeed.
Why pump up the volume?
If you send out 300 LOIs (and your LOI is good, of course), you’re pretty much guaranteed to get at least one assignment.
If you have a dozen queries circulating to five magazines each, you’ll have a way better chance of landing an assignment than if you have just one pitch sitting at one magazine. And if you market in volume via LinkedIn, Twitter, queries, LOIs, sales letters, and phone calls, you’ll beat out the writer who relies on only one type of marketing.
Having a lot of work out there also helps cure you of sitting-by-the-phone-itis, where you wait with bated breath to hear back from that one editor on that one query you wrote, and are devastated when you get a rejection.
If you have a dozen queries and you do simultaneous querying, you’ll be able to brush off rejection because you know you have a lot more chances left.
So what’s keeping you from blasting out your work — and how can you get past those obstacles?
It’s hard to churn out a dozen queries when it takes you two weeks to perfect each one, or to send out a boatload of LOIs when you struggle over every bit of punctuation.
You know the expression “Good enough never is?” Well, I like to say “Good enough often is.”
You’ll have a way better chance at success if you send out 20 “good enough” queries than if get none out because you’re still tinkering with them to make them perfect.
I’ve had mentoring clients who labor over every word in their LOI — while I’ve gotten assignments based on queries with typos in the very first sentence.
So do your best, put it aside, read it over a day later — then let it go.
The cure for lack of time
I’ll admit it — it takes a big time commitment to craft and send lots of LOIs, queries, sales letters, and so on. But you need to make that commitment because it’s the only way you’ll be able to make a living as a freelance writer. (Until you’re at the point in your career where you don’t need to pitch much anymore, that is.)
There are ways to trim down the size of the task, however.
For example, you can batch similar tasks like researching a bunch of trade magazines one day and then sending LOIs to all the editors the next — instead of researching one magazine and sending the editor an LOI, then moving on to the next magazine, which isn’t a very efficient way to work.
You can also challenge yourself to, say, connect with 50 potential clients on Twitter in two hours or send out ten LOIs in an hour — and set a timer. This will help you focus and get more work done than if you made the wishy-washy decision to send out an indeterminate number of LOIs in an indeterminate amount of time.
How to fight the fear
This is a biggie.
It’s hard enough to send out even one query if you’re afraid you’re doing it wrong, or generate even one idea if you’re afraid you’re going to make some giant faux pas and be blacklisted from the world of writing forever.
If you feel like you need to build up your skills, Carol and I have come up with a solution. It’ll help you gain the knowledge you need to become a seasoned freelancing pro, with the confidence you need to put lots of your best work out there. We call it 4-Week J-School.
We’ve condensed all the knowledge about freelancing you’d get in two years of journalism school — and that we personally learned through long years of trial and error — and giving you the critical bits in four weeks flat. You’ll learn about how to generate saleable ideas, how to do research, where to find credible sources, how to prepare for and conduct interviews, what ethical snafus to look out for, and much more.
Sign up for the waiting list here.
How do you pump up the marketing volume? Tell us in the comments below.