I’ve freelanced on and off for over five years now. Since then, I’ve tackled plenty of the typical freelance obstacles, from managing my time to getting steady gigs, and figured out a system that works for me.
But even still, I’ll admit: the idea of pitching to a new publication gives me sweaty palms and dry mouth.
It’s not even so much the fear of rejection (although that’s certainly real), but overcoming the resistance I’ve built up inside me when I think about pitching to some of my “dream publications.” I already know what works with my steady gigs. Why not just send a quick pitch there? Why waste my time on something that’s not a guarantee? Time becomes such a valuable commodity as a freelancer that the idea of wasting it on an uncertainty seems impractical — and over time, impossible.
Obviously, all of that is just me rationalizing so I can avoid doing something that scares me. And that’s exactly why I was so curious about a course that promised to help me muster up the courage and wherewithal to pitch to not one, not two, but 30 new publications in just one month.
What is 30 Days, 30 Queries?
30 Days, 30 Queries is a self-paced online course designed for both new and experienced freelancers who are feeling stuck.
The instructor knows what she’s talking about: Natasha Khullar Relph (who previously wrote under the name Mridu Khullar Relph) is a prolific freelance writer with bylines in TIME, The New York Times, CNN, Cosmopolitan and many more. (Really, you name it, and she’s probably published there.)
Upon reading the course description, I was comforted to find that Khullar Relph herself has dealt with the very same problem that had plagued me for the last several years. “I was always so busy writing for my existing clients that pitching to new markets, especially hard-to-break-into ones like The New Yorker or National Geographic, just never made it on my list of things to do,” she wrote. “Pitch The New Yorker and wait a year for the rejection, or email my editor at a trade magazine and get a quick assignment and nice paycheck within the month?”
That is, until she challenged herself to send out 30 queries to new publications in 30 days. While she doesn’t claim the course will help you nab all 30, she did reap pretty impressive rewards: She got four new clients — two of which paid $1 a word! — and developed a running dialogue with six other editors at publications like Wired, Parents and O.
Khullar Relph realized the potential of this challenge for other freelance writers and built out a course of 30 lessons delivered via email daily that “will show you in a step-by-step fashion how to send 30 query letters in a month.”
Nearly 600 students have taken the course since she launched it in 2014. Relph says students have bagged bylines at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Marie Claire, National Geographic Traveler, Discover, The Guardian, Afar, GlobalPost, Vice.com, BBC, and CNN Travel.
What features do you get when you sign up for the course?
To start, you get 30 lessons that help you break through the fear of pitching and create pitching habits. Those lessons also provide tips on how to write pitches that get more assignments and money.
Then you also get a few other goodies:
- Lifetime access to the 30 Days, 30 Queries Facebook group. The group includes current and former course participants. Here, you can ask questions, collaborate on pitches, and share resources with other editors and writers. There are over 400 people in this group, so it’s a valuable tool to have at your disposal — and it’s always good to have a community in this zany industry.
- Resources to aid you in your quest. We’re talking samples of query letters, a list of high-paying publications, and links to various resources to help you fine tune your pitches. The query letter samples particularly valuable, as some of them resulted in stories published in major outlets — you can check out dozens of student testimonials to see for yourself.
Other than email coaching with Khullar Relph, which only is available for the 30 days, you get lifetime access to all these elements, so if you don’t think you can do the full course in 30 days, it’s no problem — and if you feel like devouring it in 10, you can do that, too.
What do I like about 30 Days, 30 Queries?
The hardest part of pitching is actually getting yourself to do it — and the first few days of 30 Days, 30 Queries make pitching feel bite-sized, doable and targeted.
The concept of sending out all those pitches to new publications may make you sweat initially, but it turns out you don’t even send out a single query during the first three days.
Instead of having you fire out queries wildly, Khullar Relph encourages you to take time at the beginning to mull over your ultimate goal for the course. It could be anything from writing about a particular topic to making a dollar a word or more, but it has to be specific, actionable and simple so you don’t get snagged in overwhelming details. “Complicated is the enemy of productivity,” Khullar Relph says.
Then, the second lesson encourages you to come up with a list of 30 publications that would meet your goal, and the third helps you develop a “production line approach to querying” to remove as many obstacles from your path as possible right out of the gate. From there, you’re well on your way to getting your pitches out into the world.
What I like so much about this course is that it’s not full of airy, bubbly “You can do it if you set your mind to it!” platitudes — instead, it answers the tough questions.
For example, on day two, Khullar Relph explains how to find the markets that work for you — and it turns out that concept becomes exponentially simpler when you’ve figured out your specific goal.
The course breaks down the process of freelancing and pitching so it feels actionable, possible and like just another part of your day instead of a massive hurdle to get over. As virtually any freelancer can tell you, that’s pretty huge.
That’s not to say the course makes freelancing seem easy. Khullar Relph doesn’t pretend she’s some superhero who feels no fear or psychological barriers when it comes to pitching big publications; instead, she addresses each of these emotions head-on and helps you address them so you can stop working against yourself. The course keeps it real in a way your average how-to, “hustle ‘til you die” guide doesn’t.
Through this course, I’ve gained the much-needed confidence to take on freelancing full time and develop my writing portfolio more and more every day. Another huge bonus was the development of a sturdier, more organized process for pitching — a more mundane element of freelancing that may seem like such a simple concept, but is the first to get lost as inboxes flood, bills come in, and deadlines pile up.
How much does 30 Days, 30 Queries cost?
My singular qualm with 30 Days, 30 Queries is the price of entry: $499. That’s no small concern, considering that for many freelancers, every cent counts.
However, the personalization is unbeatable here. As long as you put the recommended work and energy into this course, your net gain will likely far surpass the cost. And on the plus side, it becomes a lot easier to keep your motivation up when you think about $499 going to waste!
If you want a fire lit under your butt, 30 Days, 30 Queries is worth it to focus your freelancing efforts, send effective pitches, and make every minute count.
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