How to Get Rid of Query Fear Once and For All

In the five years since I first launched this blog — and in the 1.5 years since I began coaching — I’ve learned a thing or two about the things that can hold a freelancer back.

And aside from the lure of a smooshy couch, a good book, or a curated list of sparkly jewelry on Etsy, a lot of the roadblocks we put up around ourselves stem from the pitch process.

You’ve asked me so many questions about query letters over the years:

How do I find publications to pitch?

Which editor should I target?

What do I do if I have no clips/experience/personal connection?

How long should I wait before I follow up?

Is my letter really good enough to send out? 

I had the same questions when I started out and, over the years, I developed my own system for making the pitch to publish process go smoother.

So what’s my trick to busting query fear?

For the past few months,  I’ve been working on 5 Weeks to Freelance Awesome: An Action Plan, a workbook that takes you from idea generation to the building of your freelance brand. This workbook, which will be available for sale in the late spring, will be pretty damn fantastic. But as I worked on it, I couldn’t help but ask myself: Is there a way I can use this information to show gratitude to my loyal word nerd readers? Is there a way I can share this information with readers without ruining the big reveal?

Yesterday, I emailed Word Nerd News subscribers with a download link to Freelance Awesome: A Starter Kit, a FREE mini-workbook containing the five worksheets necessary to jumpstart your freelance writing career. These worksheets comprise the system I’ve put in place for making my own pitch process a helluva lot easier. I use them on an almost-daily basis. They help me:

  • generate story ideas
  • conduct market research
  • write kick-ass query letters, and
  • track pitches and assignments

These worksheets take the self-doubt out of story pitching, and help me keep the freelance momentum going.

Because I don’t want you to miss out, I encourage you to sign up for my mailing list as well. As a subscriber to Word Nerd News, you’ll receive instant access to my starter kit. Not only that, but you’ll receive a once-a-month email containing freelance success stories, solid advice, and valuable resources from around the web. I’d say it’s a win-win.

Once you’ve downloaded my .pdf-powered word glitter, I only ask one thing in return: If you find my starter kit helpful… if you think I have something valuable to offer… if you think my hair is pretty… if you think I could be a service to someone else you know, tell them to sign up for my mailing list, too.

(If you don’t want to sign up right now, you can always come back later. There’s a simple sign-up form in the right-hand sidebar of this blog, and a sign-up button on my professional site as well.)

I should also tell you that, next week (Thursday, February 9 at 12 p.m. PST / 3 p.m. EST), I’ll be appearing on Carol Tice‘s weekly podcast, over at the Freelance Writer’s Den, to talk freelance startup plans. (You may recall that Carol is one of my favorite freelance writing bloggers.) This is a members-only event, so be sure to register beforehand!

Finally, I want to give a big thanks to Lyz Lenz, my writing partner, for ripping my workbook to shreds and then helping me put it back together again; Melanie Ostmo, a fantastic designer, for making my starter kit all sorts of pretty; and Milena Canizares, a former coaching client who was kind enough to read through my kit and give me her feedback before I shared it with the world.

Go forth and rock it, y’all.

Related: How To Pitch: The Basics

How To Fish For (Those Completely Deserved) Compliments

Still trying to build up your freelance biz? There’s (probably) no need to drop your life savings on a slick advertising campaign, or on glossy, high-priced direct mail marketing. Over the years, time and experience have shown that word-of-mouth marketing is best.

Sure, I’ve broken into new markets by cold querying and social media marketing. But word-of-mouth marketing is still how I connect with the majority of my coaching clients. It led to my inclusion in the Young Entrepreneur Council’s inaugural group of members. It’s the primary reason I was asked to be a panelist on that ASJA sex writing panel in the spring. And it’s led to numerous writing and editing projects over the years.

You may believe that word-of-mouth marketing is out of your hands (and to some extent, it is). But if you’re looking to build legitimacy for your business, you can still use those satisfied clients to your advantage in a more deliberate way.

I’m talking testimonials, people. And all you have to do is ask for them.

Maybe you feel weird about asking your clients to talk you up. Maybe you figure that — if they really liked you — they’d do it on their own.

And they might.

But if you straight up ask for testimonials (and you ask for them using the types of thought-provoking questions that make for the most effective testimonials), you can then use them on your website, in your e-newsletter, in your email signature, on your blog… wherever you think they’ll be most visible to your target client.

And these solid endorsements from others will show those still hesitating to open their wallets that you have a proven track record of solving problems just like theirs.

So how can you score those eye-catching testimonials? Promotional wordsmith Alexandra Franzen makes it easy with her latest info-product: Five Scripts to Rake in the Praise.

Remember when I offered those freebie email templates you could use for asking your boss the tough questions? (Questions like Can I telecommute? and Will you hate me if I resign?)

Alexandra’s Five Scripts is sort of like that. Except way prettier. And with templates for multiple testimonial-gathering situations. Such as:

  • confidently requesting a testimonial from a current client
  • prompting your client with the types of questions that make for the most effective love notes
  • scoring a belated testimonial from a long-ago client
  • requesting advance praise for a soon-to-be-released product
  • taking previously written praise and spreading it among your advocates and fans

And like Alexandra herself, the scripts are bold and colorful, including such turns of phrase as “your words of support are like solid gold for my business” and “with wiggly anticipation.” (Seriously. This Alexandra chick is my kinda wordsmith.)

You can send out these scripts word for word… or you can use them as jumping-off points, allowing them to inspire you to new heights of writerly radiance that smack of your own huggable personality.

If nothing else, these scripts will stand as shining examples of what can be accomplished with top-notch copywriting.

Alexandra’s Five Scripts to Rake in the Praise is available for only $15 [not an affiliate link; I just think this product is quality and cool], but one lucky Freelancedom reader will receive it for free. Just leave a comment below with the five adjectives you wish your clients would use to describe you. (Example: Relatable. Honest. Funny. Empathetic. Looks like Zooey Deschanel.)


If you’re more interested in Alexandra’s Five Scripts to Fill Your Client Docket, leave a comment below describing your dream project/client, because I have one of those to give out as well.

Dream big, word nerds! Dream big.*

* I will be excepting entries through midnight on Thursday, December 22. I will email the winners on Friday, December 23.

Related: Want to Work Remotely? How to Ask the Tough Questions