I’ve always wanted to write for a highly regarded publication. Part for the money, part for exposure. The rest for the fun.
After strengthening my portfolio, I picked up a publication that specializes in one of the subjects I cover, and studied the content. I got in touch with the editor, and introduced myself. She responded, and asked for pitches. I sent the current trending topics and paired them with the sections, certain she’d be interested. I did not get a response.
Over the following six months, I read every issue. I was determined to write for that magazine because it would not only give me the break I’d been waiting for, but also because I genuinely liked the content, and wanted to be part of creating it. With a much better understanding of their focus, I pitched the editor again. She liked my ideas, and asked me to write about one of the subjects I had suggested. When I sent her the finished piece, she was pleased with the outcome, and asked for more ideas.
I happily pitched and, since I had gained an even better understanding of what she was looking for, I was certain she’d like these ideas as well. No response. Weeks went by and I started getting anxious. Eventually, the editor got back to me with approval of the ideas and an invitation for a dinner they host for their contributors. I would have been a fool not to accept!
During the dinner, I got a chance to speak with the editor, and learned the two things that had really impressed her about me. Even if the topic had been relevant with a good angle, and well-reported results, those were not the things that convinced her.
What first caught her eye was my understanding of the publication. She liked how I presented the content. I then realized why my first pitch was unsuccessful. It wasn’t about the ideas. It was how I had presented them. My presentation didn’t match their style.
The other thing that convinced her to continuing hiring me was my professionalism. She told me stories about how freelancers approached her with unique ideas and good writing, but were extremely difficult to work with. Some were even rude. It was a great turn-off that cost them their chances for continuing work.
A few days after the dinner, the editor offered me another writing job for their sister magazine, and gave me the responsibility of handling two full pages in their main one. In the end, it turns out that nice guys don’t always finish last.
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Isabel Järnström is a freelance writer who covers an eclectic mix of topics. When she’s not reporting on trending cosmetics ingredients or conducting a guide on self-development she’s found reading romantic suspense or enjoying the buzz of city life. Feel free to visit her website: https://www.isabeljarnstrom.com
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