In some ways, it's similar to a novel query. Address your query to the editor. If you know them personally or was referred to them you will want to mention that in the first line. Then pitch your story in the next paragraph or two, mentioning how long you envision the story will be, etc, who your potential sources are, that sort of thing. Then close with a paragraph addressing why you are the one who should write the article--your writing qualifications, any special knowledge of the subject material, or any special access to the sources.
Bumping this topic to ask a new question but related to the previous one. As I'm looking at potential freelance writing gigs, I've noticed a lot of requests for writing samples. Most of these gigs are non-fiction, either website content writing or other business writing. My question is - would blog posts suffice for these kinds of writing samples or ... ? Does it need to be something that is published (and available online to read by those I'm submitting to) or just something that I wrote? If it doesn't need to be published, I could theoretically write something specifically for the assignment I'm submitting to, but I'd like to minimize time spend (I assume there will be a lot of assignments I won't get) and be able to reuse something that I've already done.
I've done some blog posts around a certain technology, they're posted on my personal blog and on a public blog that gets a large amount of readership/high on google hits for this certain technology. The thing is, they are children/family-oriented posts, informal by nature because they're blog posts. But, they're well-written (in my opinion, naturally, LOL) and showcase my ability to talk about technology and report on events (both were post-event descriptions.) And they're out in the public domain so I can provide links to them.
Any thoughts on this? I really appreciate the feedback/help!
Published articles, along the style and subject matter of the place you are targeting, are best if at all possible. I think blog posts will work, but you might want to put on your query letter how many unique visitors you have per day or something along those lines.
If you are emailing your query links should work. If you are sending them a hard query, you should make copies of any clips (make sure publication name and date are visible, are put them on there), and you should probably print out the pertinent blog posts. Make it as easy as you can for the editor. They are looking for any excuse not to use you.
A word of caution--do not include fiction as clips. I see this in queries we get, and it's kind of ridiculous. If we printed fiction, that would be one thing, but we don't. Ever. As much as possible, you want your clips to reflect you "get" the publication you are shooting for.
This is all my opinion, obviously. I've been working at this magazine now for 9 months, and we discussed this in journalism school, so I have the benefit of my professors' and now colleagues' experiences as well.