The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Pitching

By | November 3, 2019

Landing a job is a major concern for freelancers. In reality, many income-related issues do affect freelancers who always bother about the competitive nature of the business, whether they’ll get paid fairly, and where they will get the next job offer.

Pitching is a very useful tool in dealing with such concerns. If you are a freelancer who is trying to land a job, one of the top tactics you should be implementing is pitching. All you need to do is polish your writing portfolio.

This is the stage where a lot of freelancers get off the ladder. Pitching should be one of the major tactics you should utilize.

Though pitching is technical and does take time, pitching requires a lot of work for something that might seem not to pay off.

So why do it? Here are the reasons you need to do it:

  • Interestingly, the paying jobs often materialize from the kind of interpersonal, back-and-forth communication that pitching brings about. No brand will ever put up a $500 writing work on Fiverr. In order to get jobs that pay these big bucks, you’ll have to put in some real effort.
  • If it really works out as planned, this may be the start of a profitable and long-standing relationship. All you need to do is hit the pay dirt once or twice so as to generate true income which is stable with big budgets clients requesting good content. Making headway and career out of freelancing isn’t a small task. Try and get serious.

Pitching is all about the numbers according to freelance writer and Editor Antosz Danielle “You will need to send out a ton to land a few “yes’s” back. I am aware that it does pay off with a good lucrative long-term relationship.

So what do you do? All you need to do is start sending pitches to editors you find on a publication’s “About Us “page? No, it requires a lot more than that.

There are so many types of pitching, each with its pros, cons, nuances, and the best practices. This guide and tips will walk you through the types of pitching out there and how to go about each.

The Four Elements of a Good Pitch

1. You’ve found the Best Editor to Pitch to

If you don’t get used to this ahead of time, you will need to do little research, Visit the site or blog, and look for a “Write for us” or “Contributor Guidelines” link.

If you can’t come up with the right contact through this, visit the publication’s “About Us” or ‘Our Team’ page. You are on the lookout for someone with the blog manager title, managing editor, content strategist, or anyone in the marketing niche.

2. You Have a Great Subject Line

If you have a weak point, they are not going to go through your pitch at all; there is always a rubber stamp subject line that will work out across the board. It does depend on the details of the industry and the specific topic.

3. It is Customized

Never try to write one generic email and send it out en masse to a bunch of email addresses you plugged into the BC field.

This is often known as ‘Shotgun pitching”, and such a method hardly works, swapping out the recipient’s first name in the greeting which is followed by that same pasted-in generic mail.

Your pitches should be written according to the pub’s needs, always endeavor that your pitch is in line with the brand’s vision and mission. Let them get convinced that you really put in some work.

Find a certain angle and give them reasons that will interest and persuade them. State their needs and how you will help them meet goals. Always be explanatory. You can make available the value of X, Y and Z.

4. You Toot Your Own Horn

First you have to create trust, most especially if the publication has never worked with you before time. Add a few links to the relevant pieces of content you have written. List some high profile pubs that have published your work.

Add your Twitter or LinkedIn profile ( only if they are built out; it is better not to send social profiles than to send weak ones).

Types of Freelance Pitching

1. Cold Pitching

This is the biggest crap-shoot as far as pitching is concerned; it requires lesser information to work on. The publication doesn’t have a contact on their website nor a public submission policy.

The best way to go about cold pitching is also directly proportional to the methodology behind account-based marketing.

This is where a sales rep identifies a set of target accounts and tries to work on it and develop it i.e. a tailored, personalized campaign to just land those accounts. You always do something similar:

  • First, identify the specific publications you desire to write for. Since you have an idea of who the owners are in your industry, a Google search for the best blogs about X will narrow it down.
  • Always spend quality time researching existing content for each pub you want to target. Research which topics that have already be written about, which ones are lacking? Where  will you be able to fill in the gaps?
  • Always make use of the information you have to formulate the ideas for the content.

When it comes to cold pitching, competition among writers is less intense simply because there are no guidelines or deadlines to inspire submissions.

But on the reverse side, when you send a pitch to them and hang around, you have a very low chance of hearing back from them, because this type of pub is the least in listening to writers.

Also be informed that some publications and clients do not always accept unsolicited pitches or submissions because of the legal-concerned hanging around copyrights.

You should also invite them to make corrections to your idea, to make it better fit into their needs. You want to showcase that you are very flexible to work with.

2. Casual Pitching

This is also similar to cold pitching, just that the publication openly accepts submissions. You will come across guidelines to follow coupled with instructions on where to send your pitch.

A cold pitch is what you send when you have never worked with a pub. It is likely you have worked with the publication previously in casual pitching.

Always follow the submission guidelines as instructed in your pitch. Since they have taken their time to state the instructions, try as much as possible to comply with them lest your work becomes annoying to the person receiving it.

3. Hot pitching

The publication needs you to either send in your pitches on a particular set of topics or convince them why you are the best writer for that particular project. They always insist on open request for pitches and may likely set deadlines for the submission.

There is a fierce competition among writers at this level of pitching as qualified people are being considered for the job and it means their topic do interest them.

Do always showcase your expertise in your pitch and always explain the dimension you plan to take with one or two genuine points.

4. Relational Pitching

This pitch concentrate less on what you have to write and more on who you know and what you will make out of these relationships by leveraging it to meet the pub‘s needs.

This means the publications do have an idea that requires a certain subject matter expert, celebrity or CEO. It may also be that they have made some contacts with SME or VIP and you need to show that you are experienced and highly professional enough to engage those high-profile persons.

In your pitch, you will need to show that you have what it takes i.e. the public relation skills to convince and secure the requisite SME or VIP. If probably you already have someone in mind, always use that angle for your pitch.

5. Collaborative Pitching

Just as the name implies, this pitch does require a fair amount of back and forth between the writer and the brand.

It mostly occurs when the writer has already built a relationship with a publication and when the content requires special details to be read out such as concluding on subject interviews needed for important research, etc). Collaborative pitching always looks like this:

  • The publication calls for a general topic and needs to choose the best specific angle
  • You convey your expertise and professionalism in the topic and also your ability to research it and pitch the angle.
  • You will jointly arrive at a certain content idea and a special mutual understanding of what will be covered

Always offer your unique and personal take on the subject matter and give them breathtaking ideas. The competition among writers is always limited to a very small pool in these types of pitches and run-of-mill ideas won’t cut it out.

6. Affiliate Pitching

This pitching is often known by so many different names which include guest-post pitching and off-page pitching. In this particular pitching;

  • You desire to write for a publication that has built an authority in the industry.
  • There’s often no pay attached to this type of writing; you want to write for them because they are leaders in the field, and you want your name to be associated with them.
  • There has already been a screened pool of content contributors who regularly want to be in there with the publication.
  • There exists a mutually-beneficial relationship between them, they give them free content and in return, they get a byline linked to their personal website, and the professional bragging right of being involved with them.

In your pitch, you should: Always demonstrate some serious proof high up in the pitch. These pubs do get pitched all week long and it is required of you to establish some street creed immediately or as soon as possible.

7. Influencer Pitching

If you are SME with an appreciable number of social following and you want to utilize this as part of your pitch, then this last and final type of pitching is definitely meant for you. Influencer pitching is all about the influencer you have on a target audience.

And the company you want to pitch with will also want to know where you are most active and how many followers you can boast of there. This type of pitching always facilitates a contract to build high expectations of promotion.

In your pitch, you will need to do your possible best to promote the content through your social channels and do include the data about your following on such channels.

The Challenges of Pitching as a Freelance Writer

Anything that is good and worthwhile is expected to have a few speed challenges and pitching is of no exception

1. Tracking Your Pitches

Always keep track of your pitches in an Excel or Google spreadsheet and provide entries for;

  1. The title and heading off the pitch
  2. How you get to know about the job
  3. The details such as name, email address and job title of whom you sent the pitch to
  4. The date you sent the pitch

If you ever have your pitch declined, it is okay; look around for more opportunities to reframe that  pitch for a different phrase and try over again. If the same pitch keeps getting declined at pub after pub, it is best to retire it because it is pretty obvious that you are not resonating.

Do a follow-up: calm down for a week for them to get back to you, if they didn’t contact you within seven days, send a short follow up email. It is still fair to do a follow up one more time but don’t let it be more than that.

It is not a good feeling to think that a pub can take or steal someone’s expression of an idea, but it does happen. Ideas, most especially, are not protected under copyright laws. Anybody can come up with an idea to create, say or with a guide to pitching. Still, the expression of such an idea is subjected to copyright laws and the execution of that idea always holds more value than the idea itself.

In order to protect and get your ideas secured, it is advisable not to include too many details in your pitch, unless you are paid to do so. You will want to provide enough information, so the publication knows you will be able to execute your ideas well, but don’t show all your legwork upfront. If your legwork is needed, they will hire you.

5 thoughts on “The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Pitching

  1. Adam Jude

    Awesome insights and tips in this article! There are so many different roads to go down, you have given me more ammo for my business. I bookmarked your site as “favorite” after this one. Have you ever tried affiliate marketing? I wonder what your opinion on the validity and ability to make income off affiliate marketing is like.

    Thanks again!

    Ahdam

    Reply
  2. Jomata

    Hello Isreal, such a very detailed and comprhensive post there,  my friend just intriduced me to freelance writing and I thought I should do some research on it,  as most of the terminologies are totally new for me as a newbie,  but getting this sound information from your site has giving me some morale to kick of with my freelancing writing.

    Reply
    1. Israel Olatunji Post author

      You’re most welcome, Jomata! Landing your first gig entails observing those steps carefully. By following them sheepishly, you’ll have a successful pitching attempt!

      Israel Olatunji

      Reply
  3. Christine

    I am so glad I found your article!! I am an author and although I selfpublish, I have sometimes considered querying agents, although I know that it is hard and you need to have excellent querying letters. I have never done it, though, I never know what to write in a query letter and how to please each agent’s expectations, since they vary so much, based on what they are looking for, and even on their personality and likes and dislikes. Your article about pitching gives me excellent tips. 

    I agree that “shotgun pitching” would not work, because every editor has different expectations. It just would be a waste of effort. It may save you time but lose you potential customers. 

    I did not even know that there were several types of pitching. Hot pitching definitely seems to be the most difficult one …

    These are all really good tips, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Israel Olatunji Post author

      Glad you found my pitching tips useful! Much excited! See you succeed in your freelancing business!

      Israel Olatunji

      Reply

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