My answer to the most common question I hear from freelance writers.
The one thing to understand before you search for freelance writing jobs is that editors who are reading your freelance pitch are busy. It’s the same for CEOs, website owners, and solopreneurs. Their schedules leave them very little time to peruse their email inbox for article ideas.
If you want your freelance pitch to be accepted, make it easy for a potential client to see your idea in their magazine or publication or on their blog. Clients are people just like you and I, they’re often just as busy if not more than we are.
Make it easy for a potential client to read your pitch and see the piece will be a good fit for their audience so they can hit reply and say “yes”.
Send a Freelance Pitch not an LOI
Please stop sending LOIs (letter of introduction) to hundreds of companies or publications if you’re a freelance writer. This may work for other types of freelancers but for writers, it adds an extra step to the process and can increase rejections from busy decision-makers.
Sending an LOI puts the work on the client to review your portfolio and then take time to think of an article idea you could write for them. They’re too busy for that. And they don’t know you well enough so they’re basically guessing.
Instead of an LOI, send a specific pitch for an article you know their audience will love.
Do Your Research Before You Pitch
This means you need to do your research before you pitch. You should be able to answer the following questions about any potential clients before you write your freelance pitch:
- Who is their target audience?
- Do they already have a blog and/or a newsletter? Are they posting content consistently?
- What is the average length of blog posts or articles? What formats/styles are popular? (i.e How-to, Listicle, Guides, Interviews, etc.)
- What special elements are used? (infographics, pull quotes, resources, other)
- What topics or trends are current or popular right now for this subject?
- What’s happening in the world right now that could impact this topic/subject?
- What issue or angle isn’t written about that interests readers? Where’s the gap if any in what’s being covered.
- What questions or information will target readers be interested in about this topic? (Ubersuggest.com or a People Also Ask box for your keyword can help with this)
- Has this topic been covered in the last few months with the angle you are pitching?
- Why am I the best writer to write this article right now?
- What insight or perspective can I offer that most writers/freelancers might not be able to offer?
- Does this company, publication, magazine work with freelancers or only staff writers?
You aren’t going to use all the above information in your pitch by any means. Your pitch will only be half a page, maybe three to four short paragraphs. But all the above information helps you make sure your pitch is targeted and relevant.
Email Subject Line
If the submission guidelines indicate what format to use for the email subject line you should follow the suggested format for that publication or company.
If there’s nothing listed in the guidelines for the email subject line, use something like new pitch: article title/idea, from your name.
Use the editor’s name whenever possible. If the tone and appearance of the magazine/publication or website seems casual, fun, or quirky, use Hello or Dear First Name. For journalistic publications or more formal magazines, use Dear or Hello First Name Last Name
Your first paragraph should introduce your pitch idea and show that you’re familiar with the audience and tone of the magazine or publication or blog.
If you are responding to a specific job posting or call for submission you should indicate that in your intro. Tell the editor how/why you think this article/idea will resonate with their readers/audience. Avoid starting a pitch with your writing qualifications or talking about yourself. Start with the article idea!
Body of Freelance Pitch
Give suggested titles for your article and outline your approach using suggested subheadings or points you will cover. Your outline should include approximate word count/range which fits with guidelines or average article length in the publication.
Provide a few sentences indicating how/why you are the best writer to write this article. You can then give a brief summary of your qualifications but only the ones most relevant to the topic or article you are writing.
If the submission guidelines indicate how to provide samples of your writing, follow those. If nothing is listed in the guidelines, provide a link to your published clips or portfolio. Double check to make sure your contact information is current on your portfolio.
Make your closing sentences positive in nature and provide a way for the client or editor to respond to you. I suggest something such as “I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience so I can add this to my schedule.” or “I look forward to working with you in the coming month.”
Your closing should indicate you are waiting to hear from them in a way that assumes they will want to move forward with the project rather than asking them if they are interested.
Don’t close with statements like “let me know if you are interested”, “reply if you like this idea” or let me know if this idea works”, etc. These are wishy-washy and don’t project confidence.
Instead make it easy for them to say “yes” by letting them know you are ready and waiting to begin. Project confidence in your article with the words you use and the tone. Something like “I look forward to adding your project to my schedule” is great.
Pitch Follow Up
After about 8–14 days with no response, follow up by opening your original sent email and hitting forward. Address the email to the appropriate person and then saying something like “Just wanted to follow up on this pitch before I submit to other publications.”
Follow up once or twice with each publication or client and then move on but keep them on your radar to pitch a different idea in the future if they don’t respond.
A lot of experts will tell you to send hundreds of cold emails to get clients. Trust me you don’t have to do that.
If you start with my no blindfold system for finding freelance clients and then you customize your pitch for each client, you can save time and get better results.
Now go get paid!
Need help finding freelance writing clients? I offer 2-hour webinar for $47, where I share my tips and tricks live and you can join us. Register for How to Find Freelance Clients and Get Paid to get information on the next session.
Meg Stewart has been freelancing for nearly two decades. She’s a multi-passionate skill hoarder and the intersection of freelance writing, technology, and teaching is her sweet spot. Freelance Ladder was founded to help writers get paid and help solopreneurs do business online better. Meg and her family, (along with two dogs, two cats, and two leopard geckos), live in Northeast Ohio. Follow her on Medium or become a Medium member and get unlimited access.