Letters of introduction are an excellent way to cast your nets to find freelance writing gigs. These types of letters work best for trade magazines and custom publications. Consumer magazines generally expect fully developed queries, and these types of publications are hard to break into when you are first starting out. By using a letter of introduction, you are going to reach out to editors and pitch the best story available: the story of YOU!
Keep a few things in mind when you are crafting these letters. Don’t be afraid to get creative when crafting these letters. You want to stand out from other writers. Be professional but avoid being too business-like. Show off your personality. Use the opportunity to grab their attention and strike up a conversation. Whatever you do, don’t be boring.
Make sure you address the right editor for your pitch. This can get very tricky especially when you are introducing yourself to a magazine publication. Look for what section you would most like to write for and then see which editor is in charge of that particular section. Make sure you address the person by name (no Dear Editor) and the person’s name is spelt correctly. Use the person’s full name if available.
If you are sending a letter of introduction in response to a posted job ad, use the post to your advantage when introducing yourself. Focus on the needs of the person you are writing to and then introduce yourself as one who can fulfill those needs. Provide details on the benefits the editor will receive when working with you.
Unless you have an established relationship with the editor or you know that the editor prefers to be contacted by phone, stick to email. Editors just don’t have the time to answer the phone for every freelance writer who wants to get a hold of them. You don’t want to annoy them and risk your chance of getting that gig.
If you do have some story ideas that you would like to share, go ahead and include them in your letter of introduction. This shows that you are truly interested in the publication and its best interests. However, make sure that your story ideas haven’t already been covered by the publication. You want to show that you have done your homework and can provide them with the missing gaps of information that will be relevant to their readers.
Insert a call to action toward the end of the letter. Asking questions is a great way to get editors to respond to letters of introduction. Ask things like, “May I send you some clips?’ or “I would like to schedule a meeting with you to discuss this further. When would be the best time for me to get together with you?” Make sure to follow up in a week or two if you do not get a response.
By doing your homework, crafting and sending a well put-together letter of introduction, and following up, you can greatly increase your chances of landing a well-paying freelance writing gig. So, what are you waiting for? Go get started!
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