Pitching is an essential part of freelancing. If you don’t pitch, you don’t get work. Plain and simple.
When I first started out, and decided to delve into the world of freelancing, I took this to heart. Each day, I’d pitch idea after idea to anyone and everyone out there. I’d trawl the Internet for editors’ email addresses, and send more than 20 emails a day packed full of article ideas. Frankly, it was exhausting.
My logic was simple – the more ideas I sent out there, the more chance I’d have of someone picking one up. You might say that I was casting my net far and wide, hoping that at least one fish would get trapped within it.
But, it didn’t work. I’d sit there and stare at my inbox, clicking ‘refresh. Nothing was happening.
To an outsider, the problem I was having was obvious. I was pitching any idea that popped into my head. I had no filter.
Often times, I wouldn’t even read the pitches back to myself. I would type away, sign off the email, and then hit ‘send.’ It’s no wonder that I wasn’t getting replies – I was sending editors streams of consciousness rather than well-thought-out, fully-formed ideas.
About a month in, I decided to change tack. I put myself in the editors’ shoes. All they really want is an idea that: a) works for their publication, and b) doesn’t need too much sculpting.
I’d start with a piece of news or a small story idea. Then, I’d look for a new angle on it – one that hadn’t already been covered by mainstream media. So, if there was a story about a new restaurant, I wouldn’t just cover its launch. Instead, I’d offer to cover how it caters to vegans specifically, or the human interest story of its founders. It’s all about being niche.
Next, I’d use Google to see whether the publication I was pitching had already run a similar story. The last thing I wanted to do was show the editor that I hadn’t done my research.
Finally, I’d tailor the header and brief to suit the publication. If the site usually published articles with titles like “Here’s what you need to know about dog bites”, I’d mimic that. If they tended to go for a straight headline like “Dog bites man,” I’d go with that style instead.
This method meant I pitched less. Coming up with one, solid idea would often take me a lot longer than it had to come up with five. However, when I started pitching these niche ideas, I noticed a genuine change. Editors not only got back to me, but they were quick to commission me pieces.
That month, I managed to fill my diary with 10 fresh articles, all of which paid a fee. It was refreshing, and taught me one of the best lessons a freelancer can learn. The more you research your pitch and tailor it, the more likely it is to get picked up. A rule to live by.
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Charlotte is a freelance writer living in Sheffield, UK. Her work has been seen in Men’s Health, Reader’s Digest and Psychologies. When she’s not writing articles, you can find her reading a book or binging Netflix.
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