Pitching is the number one skill to turn your freelance writing from money-making hobby into a profitable business. Check out the video, where I share my top pitching tips to get your emails, and your writing, noticed.
Being able to create a great pitch is your path to freelance writing freedom.
So, what exactly is pitching?
Pitching is where you approach publications with an idea for content that you can create for them.
Many online and print publications welcome submissions from writers, and plenty are willing to pay for quality articles.
Having them agree to publish your work can give you a huge rise in earnings as a freelance writer.
Creating a good pitch is an amazing sales tool
If you have been writing for content mills or have been getting one-off gigs through freelance market places such as freelancer.com or Fiverr, getting a handle on pitching can transform your earnings.
Learning how to pitch can transform your freelance writing business, and any high earning freelance writer will tell you the same. It is EFFECTIVE pitching that helps you develop a successful writing career.
Five essential points to remember when creating the perfect pitch
Pitching Tip 1 – Do your research
Any publication they you want to write for, you need to understand it really well. Choose publications based on what you actually want to write about. For example, it is no good writing for a finance website, if you can’t write comfortable on the topic.
Once you understand your own writing niche, you can look for publications that fit. Hint: subscribe to the email list for a list of 50 websites that pay you to write 🙂 .
Get to know the publication you are pitching to really well, so you can create articles that their audience is going to love reading.
To come up with ideas, spend some time reading through the existing article that are already on the website, and take notice of what the audience comments on the most, and what the challenges or problems are that they outline in those comments. You can then create content that addresses those problems. This will allow you to create content that really speaks to that audience, and that is what editors want – well researched, well written articles that really address their audience.
Find the name and the email address of the best person to send your pitch to. Rather than just using a generic contact form or email address, do some digging and see if you can find the name of the relevant person. This helps get your email pitch directly to the person who makes the decisions, rather than it getting lost in an inbox of general correspondence.
Social media can be a really useful tool for contacting specific people, so if the publication has a Twitter or Facebook page, then doing some research there will often bring up some names and email addresses of people to contact.
Sometimes websites will have a link that says ‘submissions’. In that case, read and follow the specific instructions for submissions. The guidelines are there for a reason!
Pitching Tip 2 – Stand Out
Imagine how many pitches editors receive each day. What would make them want to click on your email to read more?
You need to stand out in that list of messages in a cluttered inbox! So how do we do that?
A catchy, interesting subject line is essential. You need it to grab the editor’s attention.
Here are two examples of subject lines:
PITCH: Article about beetroot and health
Now, you might think this does the job – it states what the writer wants to cover in the article. However, this next one is better.
PITCH: How you can use beetroot to improve athletic performance and boost your mood
I don’t know about you, but I would be much more interested in reading more about the second example. It offers more detail and it is intriguing – just what is it about beetroot that can do this?
Follow your subject line with a great first sentence in your email. The first sentence is your hook.
Thanks to the wonders of beetroot, retired man of 72 is taking on his first marathon.
Whoa there! If I was an editor, I would love to know more about this!
This sentence also uses a human interest angle, to make it even more intriguing. You wouldn’t think of a 72 year old being fit enough to run a marathon, but due to the nutritional content of beetroot, he has boosted his athletic performance and became motivated to take on the challenge.
If this was a pitch to a health and fitness publication, then it is likely to get the attention of the editor.
Pitching Tip 3 – Get to the Point!
Editors are busy people. They don’t want to spend a lot of time reading through your proposal.
Keep it brief – two to three paragraphs maximum.
Include the following information:
Possible headline – this helps the editor visualise the angle you are taking and how it might appeal to readers.
The view you are conveying – this is your opinion on the topic you are writing about. For example, if you are proposing an article on the pros and cons of organic food, make sure you include your own view of the subject, whether you think organic food is healthier, or is it a myth?
Why the article will be of value to their audience – what is it that the audience is going to gain when reading it?
Format – Essay, listicle, tutorial etc.
Links to your previous work, and to your personal website – being able to show previous work, whether it is writing that has already been published or if it is a portfolio, it allows the editor to get a feel for your writing style.
Contact details – make it as easy as possible for the editor to contact you. while they can easily just press ‘reply’ on the email, if you also include your phone number and social media names at the bottom of your email, it gives the editor more ways of contacting you.
Call to action – you might be familiar with this when writing articles or blog posts where you add a clear call to action, such as ‘call us today’ or ‘subscribe now’. You can also use a call to action at the bottom of an email to an editor. For example, ‘call me on [phone number] to discuss this more’ or ‘I am available to start, so please reply to discuss things further.’
Pitch Tip 4 – Edit and Proofread
When emailing a pitch, you want to make a good impression and you only get one chance to do so.
You are a professional writer. Don’t send an email pitch without editing and proofreading first!
We’ve all done it… had that ‘oh no’ feeling when we’ve sent an important email, only to read it back and realise there are spelling mistake, and a wrong word used. Auto correct is sometimes not your friend!
The problem is that grammatical mistakes and spelling errors show editors what to expect from the rest of your work. While that might not be true, you always proofread your work really well, having grammatical mistakes and errors in an email just puts editors off from the start.
Read through your sentences for clarity – make sure there is nothing that sounds confusing or jumbled.
Make the tone punchier and upbeat where the writing gets dull. So if you find a sentence that seems to ramble, tidy it up with some better vocab and shorter sentences.
Make sure you have spelled the editor’s name correctly. It might only be a small thing but some people find it really annoying! Also, if you are sending multiple pitches, make sure you don’t leave the name of another editor in your email by mistake! A simple way to avoid doing this is to make sure you don’t send copy and paste pitches, but tailor each pitch specifically to that publication.
Pitching Tip 5 – Pitch often
The most successful freelance writers pitch often, as the more you pitch, the more chances you have of success.
It is worth remembering that editors can take a long time to respond, so keeping up momentum is important for getting regular work as a writer.
If you have sent a pitch and you haven’t had a reply within a week. It is fine to send a follow-up email just as a gentle reminder that your work is waiting consideration.
Aim to send one pitch every day. With practise, you will get faster at pitching and have a regular stream of responses.
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