If you want to have a successful career as a freelance writer, you need to perfect your freelance writing pitch. Here are the key things to keep in mind when pitching your work to publications.
Learning to perfect the art of pitching is the key to a successful freelance writing career. Here are some key points that will help you get the editor’s attention and master the art of pitching your story.
Find the right place
Find the appropriate publication for your work. Familiarise yourself with the publication’s work, so that you’re certain they will show an interest in the type of story you want them to publish. Look for the editor at that publication who will be interested in reading about the topic you have written about.
Most of the time, the websites of the publication have their team page with contact information of every team member. Read the previous works of the editor and pick the one whom you can pitch your work to. Using Google and social media, search for the editor at your preferred publication and see if they have their contact email listed in their bios.
Grab the attention of the editors
Editors of the big brand publications get a lot of pitches from freelancers each day. You need to stand out from the moment your email hits their inbox. The first thing to do is to address them by their name. It creates a more personal connection with the editor making them welcomed to read your pitch. The content sphere is an informal place, and an overly formal approach suggests that you are not familiar with the content creation industry.
Another way to get the editor’s attention is by getting your name known to them. Follow them on social media, blogs and websites. Interact with their content by sharing, commenting and liking their posts so that they notice your presence. They might have thousands of followers, subscribers and commenters, but the names of their dedicated reader will always ring the bell. Although, beware that you’re not too stalky. Maintain the balance as you make your presence.
Have a descriptive subject line
Subject line is the first part of the pitch that the editor sees. If they aren’t tempted to click it as a headline, it’s not a good pitch subject line.
An email with a subject line that tells the editor what to expect and gives an idea of the article’s content so they can decide if it’s worth opening. Keep it short, compelling, and accurate. In less than 50 characters, it should sum up your piece. If your story is about ‘gender roles in India and how it affects the Indian economy’, then the quirky subject could be “Pitch: What Does Bill Gates Washing Dishes At Home Say About Women In India Economy?” On the contrary, an example of bad pitch subject is “Pitch: F.R.I.E.N.D.S.” when your article is actually about ‘#25YearsOfFriends: What Monica, Rachel And Phoebe Taught Us About Motherhood And Careers’.
If it’s a breaking news story, make sure your subject starts with ‘Urgent pitch’ followed by the enticing headline.
Keep it concise
The structure and tone of the pitch is the most important factor of the pitch. For an email pitch, try to keep it brief and limited to 2-3 paragraphs. Here is a sample structure to format your pitch:
Write a creative, quirky yet clickbaity headline that will appear to the editor as well as your readers. This will most likely be changed by the editor, but make sure you start with a heading that will interest the editor.
Provide a crisp summary of your article. Include the key takeaways and something that will hit to the editor’s interest.
The 5 Ws
In about 500 words, address the 5Ws in classic format and lead to the gold coin of the story. Talk about ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘When’, ‘Where’, ‘Why’ and then state your stance on the topic. Add value to the story by elaborating on the ‘How’ and ‘So What’ of the topic. This is the most important part of the pitch. Convince the editor that your story should be read and adds value to the reader’s life.
Explain the relevance of the piece and why it will connect with readers. Tailor the pitches to the publication’s interest. Tell them why the story is timely, significant and interesting.
Friendly personal introduction
After pitching the story, own your work by introducing yourself in the next few sentences. Be sure to address who you are, what you do, your interest topic to write about and a brief of your work experience. Conclude by mentioning what connects you to the story that you have pitched.
Keeping your introduction genuine and to the point creates a great opportunity to start building trust with the editor.
Show that you can endorse your piece
Every kind of content needs to be promoted. It’s all about the page views, shares and social proof. In this case, a freelance writer who has a big audience to share their work with is worth the attention. If you have an engaged following, present it out simply by including links to your social media in your email signature.
Be considerate of the editor’s schedule
In the conclusion of the email, acknowledge the editor’s busy schedule. Demonstrate your readiness to cooperate with her agenda and propose a date to follow up. Also, mention that you are willing to work on the story as per the editors’ feedback. This will deepen their trust in you and indicate your accountability for the content you pitched.
Other things to keep in mind
Apart from the above mentioned key factors, here are some tips to be mindful of while sending a pitch:
- Pitch to a human being. Try not to pitch to generic submission email addresses mentioned by the publication. Find an exact editor who will read your pitch.
- Pitch a story, not a topic. For example, don’t just say that you are writing about ‘women’s rights in the workplace’, instead, give details that your article is about ‘breastfeeding rights at a workplace in India’.
- Pitch original content. Know what else has been written on the subject and explain why your angle is fresh and noteworthy.
- Never attach a full draft of the story. Wait for the editor’s approval of the pitch. Revisit your article and make changes according to your editors’ feedback before sending the actual story.
- Know that editors will look for you on the internet. Make sure they find your personal website or portfolio easily on google.
- Do not write for free. Know what the publication pays to its writers and discuss about the payment with your editor before you submit your final story.
- Ask for a contract every time you write for a publication and read it before you sign, especially the sections about intellectual property rights and payment.
Writing is still the key to getting published. But these tips will help you get your story noticed in front of the people who have the power to publish it. The few extra steps are worth the efforts.