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Get Hired with a Killer Query

By Stacy Smith

Technology is moving faster every minute, it seems. There are more than 1.5 billion total websites, according to Internet Live Stats. Although only about 200 million are currently active, freelance writers handle the bulk of the writing. Whether a corporation needs someone to write a blog or a start-up needs Tweets for a Twitter account, writing is in demand more than ever.

That’s great news if you’re a freelancer. There’s a downside to those numbers, however. There are also more writers than ever, and anyone can apply for those writing jobs. If you find a great writing assignment, odds are there will be up to 50 other people vying for the same project. When it comes to freelance writing, competition is fierce. The job frequently goes to one of its lowest bidders, regardless of skill.

Let’s say that the client wants quality work, though. He knows that it doesn’t come cheap. If you set yourself apart from the other applicants, you have a good chance of getting the job. So how do you distinguish yourself and make the client think you are the right one for the project? One way is with a query letter.

A query letter is a greeting and a sales pitch. It tells the client why you’re interested in the job, and why you’re a great candidate for the job. Even though it takes more time, write a unique letter for each prospective client. Make the reader think you want to work for that company and nowhere else, even if you’re applying for 10 different jobs.

To write a sensational query letter:

Do Some Research
Visit their website. No matter what kind of writing help the business needs, read its landing page, mission statement: all the available pages. Look at its social media. Write down a sentence or two of interesting facts you learn about the company. Visit LinkedIn to get the name and email of the hiring person, if you don’t know it.

Learn the Needs
How could this business get more page views or sell more merchandise or services? Write down some ideas, things that would improve the website in general or specific content. If you want a career here, think about how ways you would be an asset to the company. Businesses need creative, proactive employees.

Email an Introduction
Remember the email address that you found? Email that person a query letter and a brief sample. Tell that person that you learned that the company needs a copywriter/blogger/short story writer, and you have some ideas. Tell him why you think you will create value for the readers.

Explain Why
No hiring manager wants to receive a vague letter. This is where you include the interesting facts. Explain that you are customer-service oriented and you admire the company’s commitment to customer service, for example. Then the reader knows that you’ve done your homework.

No matter how expertly you craft them, query letters don’t guarantee a job, or even a response. However, they distinguish you from people who don’t write one or write a cookie-cutter letter. You get noticed. This means a better chance of an interview.

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