Everything Freelance Writers Need To Know About Pitching

Want to get some tips on how to pitch? We’ve compiled some of our classic (or are they vintage?) tips about pitching and crafting queries that are sure to grab an editors’ attention. Pitches are the most important part of being a freelance writer, so we want you to develop the skills to become a pitch ninja.

Here are a few tips:

How To Make Your Pitches Perfect

Figure out who the editor of the publication is, and make sure you contact the correct editor. Your letter should not start with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Editor.” Direct the letter to a specific person and use his or her name. When the first words of a query were “Dear Mr. Editor,” I was not only annoyed, but I was definitely not going to be accepting that pitch.

Even if you are pitching the same idea to several outlets, you need to make your pitch letters specific to the publication. As an editor, I received pitch letters that had the names of other publications instead of mine. Of course, I stopped reading those letters at that point. Tell the editor why this story is a fit for this specific publication.

5 Questions Every Query Should Answer

What’s your angle?
It’s not enough to say that you’d like to cover house foreclosures in your area. Will you cover how this impacts other homes in the neighborhood? Will you talk to recently foreclosed families to see what happens after they leave their home? Will you visit local animal shelters to see if they’ve had an influx of pets from foreclosed homes? All of these ideas offer a potential angle, and it’s often smart to focus on one angle instead of tackling a big, broad topic with lots of little threads that can’t be fully developed in a single article.

Building Confidence for the Big Pitch

Do your homework.
The more you know your target publication, the better equipped you’ll be to craft a winning pitch. For online publications, this is pretty easy. You can score magazine subscriptions by cashing in airline miles through MagsforMiles.com or buy subscriptions through sites like Magazines.com. Alternatively, check for back issues at your local library. These should give you a sense of what the publication covers and the writing style it uses, which can help strengthen your pitch and give the confidence of knowing “this magazine last covered X in 2008” or “they typically use anecdotal leads, so I’m going to start my pitch in a similar fashion.”

How to Pitch Podcasts, Slideshows and Multimedia Packages

One way to generate more income as a freelancer is to pitch a package to potential clients. Instead of only pitching an article, throw in a podcast, slideshow, and/or video. But don’t give it away, and charge more if it is edited.

If you’re writing a feature story on an event but you also have great photography skills, ask if you can take photos. But go one step further: propose putting together a slide show. If you also have the equipment and can shoot video, recommend that too. Keep the video clips short though — it’s a good rule to keep videos around two minutes. If you’re covering a local government meeting, tell your client you’ll record the audio of the entire meeting, and they can publish it as a public service on their website. Even better, if you have a laptop and a quality video camera, ask the client if you can “livestream” the meeting so their websites readers can watch it live from their website.

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About Ebyline Staff

Ebyline connects quality content creators around the globe with brands, agencies and publishers in need of trusted, original content. Follow Ebyline on Twitter.