Welcome to The Copy Shop!
The Copy Shop is Copywriter Exchange’s monthly blog series written by our community members with the goal of sharing advice and insider tips with like-minded copywriters around the globe.
Our first entry was written by Doug Kenck-Crispin.
Doug Kenck-Crispin is a podcaster and freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. He pens features for newspapers and magazines, long reads, website copy, landing pages, email campaigns and other marketing mediums. You can find more about Doug on Linkedin, Twitter, or his website.
Top Four Tips for A Successful Pitch
As a freelancer, making the right pitch can mean all the difference in landing the right assignment — or not. So whether you are attempting to write a travel or lifestyle selection for a regional magazine or an SEO-thick marketing blog on packing materials, how you craft your pitch will determine if those words come to life.
Perfect pitches, or something like that…
Ideally, you already know the publication’s editor that you are pitching to or have a mutual colleague or peer who can introduce the two of you. But sometimes, a cold pitch is called for, and they can be successful if you devote some thought to your initial outreach. In this selection, we will cover the four top tips of a stellar pitch:
- Dial in your subject line
- Tailor your pitch
- Know the publication
- Pitch exclusively, but move on quickly
Tip 1: Dialing in your subject line is critical.
Pitchers are reaching out to busy editors of busy blogs, and the reality is that they may not open their emails if the subject line doesn’t immediately capture their attention. On your pitch email to the editor, begin the subject line with PITCH: all caps. Then provide a brief summary of your subject. Get right to the meat and bones! This isn’t the time to get crafty with metaphors and wordsmithing – be succinct and to the point.
Let’s say you want to write an informative but a bit-tongue-in-cheek article for a nature website about the fascinating reproductive behaviors of honeybees. Try:
PITCH: The fascinating sex life of bees.
PITCH: The bee’s knees on the bee’s needs.
The first is succinct and covers the topic, while the second has some catchy word manipulation but doesn’t really say what the article is about. Keep the wit for the body of your pitch, and make your subject line as unencumbered and to the point as possible.
Tip 2: Knowing the publication is essential as well.
Do they hire freelancers, or do the same staff writers pen their pieces? What is the rough word count of the articles or blogs they typically post? Does your piece fit in with the theme of the blog?
For example, I wouldn’t pitch the article about bee’s reproductive behaviors to a political science publication that has been covering the war in Ukraine for the last year.
Following the paper or magazine on social media is a great way to find out what they publish and how your ideas might fit into their argosy. They may even post a “call for submissions” on their social platforms, giving you more information on their preferred pitch style. You can also follow the individual editor of the outlet, as that may help with name recognition when you send your initial pitch.
Tip 3: Tailor your pitch.
Make sure that your email text reflects this personalization. Tell the editor (use their real name) which of their articles you have read and how the bee-booty-call-broadside might fit with the tone and scientific detail of these former missives. Tell them why their readers will like the piece and how excited you will be to have a feature in (the name of the magazine). This is no place for a generic copy/paste – make it personalized to their publication.
Tip 4: Pitch exclusively but move on quickly.
So you’ve sent your perfect pitch, and you are sure the editor will want to share your fascinating insights on bumpin’ bees with the rest of the world and will obviously get back to you in haste! And then you wait. And you wait. And you wait some more. The desire to send your perfect pitch to another nature magazine/website/newsletter starts building in you until, in a wild crescendo, you quickly send out a second pitch to a second editor. Do NOT do this.
Likely, the initial editor is quite busy with publication deadlines, editing other less accomplished writers’ copy, or laying off current staff. I generally wait a week and then follow up with a “Just circling back…” message. Give them another chance to bite and wait about one more day. Then feel free to tailor your pitch to a different (but appropriate) publication. What you want to avoid is sending out your pitch to 15 other publications and having three of them say, “I like it!” This is bad form that will likely take you out of future consideration.
Bonus Tip: Just Pitch It!
But the biggest tip I can give you is just to do it! Send off that targeted pitch to the periodical you’ve always wanted to write for, and you’ll see that you just surmounted the highest hurdle in the process.
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