I get asked a lot of questions by people looking to break into freelancing, or just looking to up their game. Many of them have easily accessible answers, so I've put together a resource list that should answer some of my most frequently asked questions. Poke around and if what you're looking for is outside the scope of what's available here, please feel free to contact me about my consulting and coaching services!
How To Pitch:
I generally keep my pitches under 250 words and loosely follow the template I've pasted below. My subject line includes "FREELANCE PITCH: quirky, pithy story subject that will get editor's attention." I put "freelance" in there to differentiate my pitch from PR pitches that editors may get. I always, always follow up on my pitches; editors are busy and their inboxes are overflowing. It's easy for your pitch to get lost, particularly if it's a new editor or outlet that you haven't worked with before. I follow up after 7-10 days (two weeks for print publications), and pitch elsewhere after two weeks (three for print publications). I follow up twice if it's a market I really want to break into. I avoid simultaneous submissions because editors generally frown upon it; if it's a time sensitive inquiry and you decide to send out the pitch to multiple outlets, make sure you note that in the body of the email.
Here are some resources to help you get started and hone your pitching:
- Jessica Reed's Pitch Clinic is great. She dissects pitches that she receives and provides feedback on them. In terms of how to formulate a pitch, I usually use this template, which she outlines here:
Paragraph 1: Your name, your occupation, where you are, the story you have in mind
Paragraph 2: Why it matters, who you can talk to to write it, your sources, if you’re already done some work on it
Paragraph 3: If you’re working with video/photo/multimedia, etc say so
Paragraph 4: Your writing history, your expertise, where your work has been published
- Alanna Massey's Write Pitches, Get Money
- This resource from Ann Friedman on where and how to pitch
- 8 Reasons Your Pitch Got Rejected, According To Editors, via Contently's The Freelancer
- Beyond Your Blog's podcasts are great; they interview editors for information on how to best pitch their publication.
- Writers.com offers a Pitch Like A Honey Badger course.
Where To Pitch:
Research, research, research. Don't pitch a market that you're not familiar with. If you're thinking of pitching an outlet, make sure you've at least read a bit of what they publish and what their tone is so you can be sure your topic would fit for them, and tailor your pitch to match what they run. Pitching an editor directly is always better than sending to a general submissions email (also known as "the slush pile"). However, some places, like The Atlantic, are known to prefer pitches are sent to their general email addresses and they do check that inbox.
In order to find editor's emails, try their website and masthead first. Look for the editor of the section you want to pitch. LinkedIn and Twitter are also great resources for finding editors.
Never pitch an editor on Twitter, but you can always send a tweet asking a) if they are the right person to pitch and b) what the best email to reach them at is.
- MediaBistro memberships can provide a whole host of resources, including who to pitch at both online and print magazines. You can also access their freelance marketplace, which lists job openings.
- Five Tips For Finding Any Editor's Email Address, via Contently's The Freelancer
- Pitching Shark is a Tumblr that aggregates calls for pitches; they also have a newsletter.
- Mridu Khullar Relph put together a list of 70+ publications that pay $1/word. However, turnover is real; always check to see that someone is still at a pub before pitching. Also, many pubs (Hearst mags, for example, like Marie Claire, Cosmo, or Esquire) may pay $2/word for print but their digital rates will be much lower than that. She also has a newsletter called The International Freelancer, which you can subscribe to at the bottom of her "About" page..
If you're looking to find a regular gig, there are several newsletters and message boards that can help you do that. A regular gig is a great way to have guaranteed work, and therefore income, each month. Aside from applying from jobs you can find online, you can always let editors know that you are available to take assignments, and they may reach out when they need things written. For this, it's helpful to have a beat, something that editors know you are knowledgable about.