If you haven’t pitched your story idea to a publication before, then the freelance writing process can seem a tad overwhelming and nerve-racking.
The major emotion involved when starting something new and unfamiliar is fear. Fear of clicking on that response e-mail and reading the word “no” or perhaps not hearing a response at all. Fear of the publication not liking your idea or not liking your article.
Freelance writing doesn’t have to be scary!
I’m here to tell you, please don’t let fear hold you back from sharing your stories. We all hold a story worth sharing. It takes the right publications to share your stories further.
I’m also here to help you calm that anxiety or fear when pitching to a publication. Follow the steps below to become prepared and confident for your first freelance writing pitch.
1. Seriously research the publication(s)
The success rate a publication will accept your story depends if your story fits the overall theme of the publication. This is why before you pitch your idea, you need to seriously research your options. Once you’ve found the right fit, then you can move forward.
- Determine the niche of the publication. Does your story go along with the overall niche of the publication? For example, you’re not going to pitch a travel story to an online publication about the love of knitting. You’re going to pitch your travel story to a travel publication.
- Read a sufficient amount of articles published through the publication. Editors do not want to publish the same story twice. Use the search bar to type in keywords related to your piece. If there is a already a similar story published, then can your story add more or something different to the conversation?
- Determine the tone and voice of the publication. The more you read articles from the publication, the more you’ll pick up on the tone and voice. Does the publication mainly publish positive or political or up-beat pieces? Once you know, then you won’t be submitting something the publication may not want.
2. Read the Writer’s Guidelines if available
Writer’s guidelines are written just for you – the freelancer! I love when publications include these, because it lays out exactly what to do.
Writer’s guidelines usually include the minimum and maximum word count per post, the types of posts the publication looks for, the amount of time it takes to contact the writer after a piece is submitted, payment options, etc.
If you’re looking for online publications that pay writers, check out this post! Almost all of these online publications have writers’ guidelines to follow.
The editor is more likely to accept your story if you follow the writers’ guidelines and don’t just pitch a piece out of thin air.
Now, not all publications post writer’s guidelines, so again I stress to first research the publication’s tone, voice, published pieces, etc. Secondly, form a pitch from your observations. Do not simply e-mail the editor with your completed attached piece without researching first.
3. Pitch your story to the right person
Search the publication to find the correct person to pitch your story idea. Use that person’s name in your pitch e-mail.
If the online publication has multiple editors for different categories, you want to pitch to the editor of the appropriate category your piece fits into.
Some online publications simply have a form to fill out and submit. That’s okay, too. Fill out the form, and make sure your writing is free of errors or misspelled words. The same goes with e-mails.
There’s nothing like seeing misspelled words or the wrong punctuation in an e-mail or form pitch to turn an editor away from your writing.
4. Create a well crafted pitch
There are many different types of pitching for freelance writing. No matter which pitch you are doing, you want to make sure you present a well crafted pitch.
If you’re a brand new freelance writer, then the most common pitch you’ll be doing is the cold pitch. A cold pitch may be the easiest to get started, because you simply reach out to a publication you’re interested in (with a well crafted pitch of course) and wait for a response.
Mastering the cold pitch:
- Write a desirable e-mail headline
- Personalize e-mail by sending to the correct person
- State the purpose of your e-mail
- Establish credibility by telling them of your work or education background
- Outline the services your offer if you wish to do more than freelance write (ie. marketing)
- Conclude and encourage a response from the editor
Be straightforward in terms of the story you wish to write, which category you think your piece would fit best into, what experience you have, and where the editor can find examples of your work.
This is where having a blog and a social media presence can come in handy. If an editor responds to your well crafted pitch asking for examples of previous work, then it’s as easy as sending a link of your blog/portfolio.
I hope this post calmed the nerves of any aspiring freelance writers out there. All you can do is begin, otherwise you’ll be in the same spot tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a publication with your great story, and don’t be discouraged by “no.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told my story isn’t a good fit. I keep moving forward.
How do you prepare as a freelance writer when pitching to different publications? Share your success stories, please!