You Ask, I Answer: How Many Queries Do I Need to Send Out Per Week?
During a Freelance Writers Den free teleseminar I hosted a few weeks ago, one caller asked: How many queries do I need to send out each week?
This has got to be one of the top questions I get from writers. Everyone wants to know: How many pitches do I have to do to guarantee a cushy income and stellar freelancing career? They’re waiting to hear that magic number that will skyrocket their success.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Two points I’d like to make about that:
1. The number of queries you need to send out depends on your success rate — and that will change over time.
So if you get one acceptance for every four pitches, you know how many queries you need to send out to get 10 assignments per month: 40. But if you’re having more or less success, those numbers will be different.
Also, as you get further into your career and start developing methods that work for you, you’ll find your hit rate increases so you can send out fewer queries every week.
For example, I’ve been doing this full-time for almost 16 years now — and I rarely send out queries, because at this stage in my career I’m in many editors’ “stables,” meaning they call me when they need help with an assignment.
But at the beginning of my career? That brings me to point number two:
2. However much time you have, that’s how much you need to be marketing.
When I made the leap to full-time freelancing in 1997, I had a few assignments already — and the rest of the time I had, I was pitching.
I was probably researching, writing, and sending queries and sales letters for copywriting around 30 hours per week.
Slowly, my freelancing business built up to the point where I was pitching less and less. This is where you want to be, because doing all the work of nonstop pitching is not the most efficient way to bring in money. Working on paying assignments is. You need to market to sell your work, but it’s basically unpaid — it’s the actual writing that earns cash.
By the way, the same thing goes for Letters of Introduction, LinkedIn marketing, Twitter marketing, cold calls, or whatever form of marketing works for you: Especially when you’re starting out, the more the better. There is no maximum — just go for as much as you can in the time you have, because this business is all about volume. The more you get out there, the more chances you have to succeed.
How about you…have you ever calculated how many queries you need to send to fill your assignment calendar? Let us know in the comments below!