Whether you just graduated college and are ready to hit the journalism-ground running or you have chosen to change gears with a new career path, or maybe you’re already in the writing-business looking to grow your client-base, the following article will help you more effectively pitch editors to land new gigs. In a perfect world, all you need to do is send an amazing resume with some of your best writing samples to an editor to gain new work. Unfortunately, it takes more effort than that.
For many of you, often it’s the receipt of the much appreciated message that leaves you slightly nervous, “Thank you for your interest in Company XYZ. I look forward to reading your pitch ideas and hopefully working with you.” Let it be known, if you received this message, you are lucky. Some editors won’t even give you the time of day if you send an email without pitches for the publication. Don’t worry, I’ve listed a few examples below to help you think through catchy pitches by avoiding some taboos.
Never serve-up leftover ideas from the past.
Research, research, research. And when you’re done, research some more. Nothing is more aggravating to a busy editor than reading a pitch that has been done before in recent publications. Remember, you are trying to grab your editor’s attention, but also prove you are a savvy writer and thorough researcher. Imagine his or her reaction to your “one-of-a-kind” idea that was sent to print a few months prior. You can guarantee that email will be trashed, so don’t let that happen.
Tip: Visit the publication’s website and peruse all recent articles. Be sure to take a look at style, tone, and overall topics. This may help spark your creativity when coming up with a topic to write about.
It’s also a good idea to research some of the publication’s competitors. What are they offering readers that your editor may have overlooked?
Above all else, think of something that hasn’t been done and go for it. Chances are, your editor isn’t sitting around, thumb-twiddling, waiting to help a new writer out. If you can bring value to the company and free-up your editor’s time that is typically spent on future article brainstorming, there’s no doubt your editor will treat you as an asset to that company.
Count your pitches wisely.
Lucky number one, two, or three. Which is it?
Much like this article you are reading, it’s good to send editors concise and relevant pitches. More than likely, you will be emailing your pitches which brings up the realization of a person’s attention span. Research shows that an individual’s attention span decreases rapidly as time goes by. In fact, your attention span (and mine) is now less than a Goldfish’s attention span, yes, a Goldfish, according to a study done by Microsoft, Corp. That’s why it’s important to keep things short and sweet while still providing solid points.
Here are your options:
- You can send an email with one pitch–but this is too short. It gives off the impression you were in a hurry and didn’t brainstorm effectively.
- In contrast, you can send an email with four, five or six pitches, but truth be known: this just adds stress to your editor’s plate as soon as he or she spots the lengthy-email.
- What’s left? Lucky number three. Here is your sweet spot. An email containing three article ideas gives the editor a chance to see your personality without being too wordy.
One caveat: sometimes one pitch is enough, if it’s a solid, guaranteed win or concept. I wouldn’t recommend it, though, and would stick with three clever points.
Boring headline-writers need not apply.
If you’re thinking about flying-through the development of a catchy headline, you may as well title your pitch “Idea #3.” That’s about as boring as it gets, right? I promise you, this will go in one ear and out the other, or end up in the editor’s “deleted” folder. I know, I know, it’s just a pitch’s headline. What’s the big deal? Shouldn’t you save this witty one-liner for the article itself? Wrong!
Believe it or not, your pitch headline can be as important as the pitch itself. Think of it as a sales opportunity. You are not only trying to sell yourself, your credentials, portfolio, educational achievements, and the like, but you’re also trying to convince the editor you are the ultimate writer for the job. Snazzy headlines will grab the editor and readers.
Now that you have a few tips under your belt for positive ways to catch the editor’s eye, give it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised by his or her response and before you know it, you will be landing more writing gigs.