Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"It Doesn't Hurt to Ask"

I’ve adopted the title of this post as my personal motto over the course of the past few weeks. This simple adage (and following through on it) has netted me considerable work throughout October and likely for the rest of the year. Who knew?!?

I’ve always been pretty persistent at approaching editors and suggesting story ideas, but obviously I’ve stepped up my efforts over these past few months. But as I’ve heard “our budgets are tight” and “we aren’t assigning anything to freelancers at the moment” and “Please send us your resume and if something becomes available we’ll contact you”, that’s just made me get creative with the types of folks I approach.

This belief has helped me to branch out. Much of my workload for October consists of assignments for new-to-me markets (including 2 trade publications)—places I hadn’t heard of six months ago, but now have me on their radar and I’m happily accepting work from them. Three of my four assignments for this month are for publications I’ve never written for before, and I’m also in discussion with a nearby college to do some work for their alumni magazine (depending on how that pans out, that might be another blog post in itself!) I do the occasional piece for the local newspaper, but am not doing as much work as I’d like, so I approached another local paper and asked if they need stringers. Yep, they do. Now I’m on three of their editors’ radar and hope to be covering events for them soon.

So I’m keeping up a steady stream of new work, besides the ongoing assignments and projects from the regular clients. All because I bit the bullet and powered through past the “Sorry, we don’t need people” and the “Sorry, we aren’t hiring freelancers right now” responses. Luckily, I have found places that need people and are looking for new writers, even if those discoveries came in some unexpected places. Nearly all of the projects I’m working on now came about through LOI’s. I’ve sent out an unusually high (for me) number of queries lately, but they haven’t landed me any assignments yet. So I’ll stick with the LOI’s for the immediate future. They’re working for me.

What about you? Have you approached an editor outside of your usual niche and received a good response? Do you have more luck with queries or LOI's?