Does Query-Free Freelancing Work with Larger Media?

on February 12, 2010 in Freelance Writing, News & Updates

In Yo's last post, she mentioned the ups and downs freelancers face. Today I'm going to share a story that incorporates a bit of both. First, it's an excellent case of query-free freelancing attracting more than commercial writing clients. On the other hand, it also shows how breaking one of my own rules ended up being a waste of time on a day when when I really couldn't afford to waste it.

Let's go back to Wednesday of this week. It was my first day back to work after a 5-day vacation. I started that vacation being hit with a blizzard and had just gotten used to being dug out again when bam! -- another blizzard came in on Tuesday night. It snowed all day Wednesday, so I was stuck digging out throughout the day on top of trying to get caught up on client work. It was a busy day -- very busy.

Halfway through the day I checked my email. There was something in my inbox from NPR. They wanted me to whip something up quickly that day on a business-related topic. I didn't pitch them. I didn't contact them at all. They found me and reached out. And that, folks, is exactly how query-free freelancing works -- you make yourself "findable."

I love NPR. I also have a rule against taking on any spec projects, and I'm not technically taking on new projects from anyone right now. But we all have exceptions to our rules, don't we? Isn't there a publication or company you'd practically give a limb to write for? NPR is probably the closest I'll get to that limb-sacrificing state of mind. It's the only radio station I listen to.

So anyway, I made an exception to the rule. On a day when I was overloaded on catch-up work post-vacation and being pummelled by a snow storm I had to deal with, I dropped what I was doing and whipped up the piece. Unfortunately the rush job barely left enough time to track down a source and get a quote, nonetheless go into extensive details. And I'm not a news writer, so sudden tight deadlines aren't my forté. Still, I got it together and sent back by deadline.

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In the end they decided not to use the piece, and I was stuck working ridiculously late to make up for the lost time during my work day (never fun). Rejections aren't as common in query-free freelancing but they still happen, and you still have to be able to handle it gracefully. Disappointing? Sure. Will they come back at some point? Possibly. Would I drop everything and break my typical business rules on spec work again? I honestly don't know. But still, despite the end rejection it was very nice to see the platform approach do its job not only with the small business and corporate clients who find me and want to work with me, but also with a large media outlet I have a huge amount of respect for.

So there you have it -- an example to show you that, yes, query-free freelancing can work with media contacts just like it does with business contacts. Now tell me, what company would you consider breaking your own rules for just for a chance to write for them?

Thanks for sharing!
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. Through her company, 3 Beat Media, she operates All Indie Writers,,, and numerous other blogs.

Jenn has over 15 years experience writing for others, over 11 years experience in blogging, and 9 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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  1. Carol Tice February 12, 2010 Reply

    Funny you ask, I just recently did it…for BNET, part of CBS Interactive. I did apply to them, so it’s not an example of my query-free gigs, though I’m getting an increasing number of those, including a couple inquiries this week.

    I’m at a point in my career where I DON’T do tryouts, but broke my rule for BNET because I thought the potential opportunity for it to become a great, high-visibility, ongoing account was worth it. Ultimately, the pay should turn out to be better than other sites I’m working with.

    So far the relationship is developing well..and I’m thrilled to be on a site with more than 9 million monthly viewers. The big exposure, plus working for a company that’s really stable, made it worth it for me. Here’s a taste:;col1

    Carol Tice

  2. Anne Wayman February 13, 2010 Reply

    Can you see me turning green with envy? I’d have done the exact same thing. Others include Harpers and Atlantic Monthly…

    I would also suspect there’s many more query free assignments than most people suspect. Maybe even more now that we have blogging as a visible platform.

    Wonder what, exactly, are the best ways to be visible enough so this sort of thing happens?

    • Jennifer Mattern February 13, 2010 Reply

      Oh definitely. There is a ridiculous amount of well-paying gigs out there that people won’t ever see advertised, and blogging is a great example. Not only are people launching blogs every day as individuals, but everyone from small business owners to execs in large corporations are getting into blogging to share company information and stay in touch with members of their target market. But blogging takes time that they often don’t have, and they outsource. They’ll search for freelance bloggers, they might ask a blogger they already read in their niche or industry, or often they’ll ask colleagues (or employees) if they know anyone who might be right for the job. That’s why being well-connected is so important. You need people to think of you when they’re asked for those referrals so they can pass you along. That, combined with making sure your site can be found in searches easily, can go a long way towards bringing in those query-free gigs.

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